Gaucho Softball Signs Four Student-Athletes

Dec. 11, 2006

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara head softball coach Kristy Schroeder recently announced the signing of Katie McWhirter, Jessica Beristianos, Mary Episcopo and Kelsey Bruder to National Letters of Intent. The foursome is expected to join the Gauchos for the 2007-08 season.

McWhirter, who is capable in the infield or outfield, is currently a senior at Monrovia High School. The two-time First-Team All-Rio Hondo League pick and 2005 league co-MVP, has led her high school team in RBI's for the past two seasons helping her earn back-to-back All-CIF First Team honors. A two-time All-San Gabriel Valley selection, McWhirter also excels in the classroom, having received Scholar-Athlete honors during her freshman through junior years. She also competes with Filly's Gold summer ball squad.

"Katie is one of the toughest outs in the class of 2007 and she can hit for average and power. She possesses a strong arm and has a great work ethic and passion for the game that will be a great addition to our team," said Schroeder of the recruit.

Beristianos, a senior at Newark Memorial High School, has helped her team to three consecutive Mission Valley Athletic League titles (2004-06) as well as the North Coast Section finals in 2006. Playing shortstop at Newark, Beristianos is a three-time all-league first team selection. The senior is also an eight-year member of the Strike Zone 18 Gold summer ball squad.

"Jessica is one of the top hitters out of Northern California and has great range, quick hands and a strong arm. She loves the game of softball and is a very hard worker," said Schroeder.

Episcopo, who has been recruited to play in the outfield but may see time at first base, attends Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, Calif. where she has received Offensive MVP honors the past two seasons. An All-Palomar First Team selection as well as a two-time First Team All-CIF pick, Episcopo has been named by the San Diego Union Tribune as one of the top players to watch in 2006. The high school senior also competes with the San Diego Breakers for summer ball and helped her team to a top-10 finish in the 2006 Gold Nationals.

"Mary is a great all around athlete and possesses great speed, a strong arm and great range. She has the ability to slap and hit for power. She has a lot of talent that I feel is untapped," commented Schroeder.

Rounding out the early signings is Bruder, a senior at Santiago High School who was recruited to play first base when not pitching. Bruder is a two-time All-League as well as All-Area selection (2004-2005) and competes with USA Athletics in the summer.

"Kelsey is a great power hitter and a very poised and confident player. Her addition will give us more depth on the mound and she has excellent movement on her pitches," remarked Schroeder.

Additionally, each of the four recruits has a high school grade-point-average of 3.8 or above. Also notable is the fact that three of the players - McWhirter, Episcopo and Bruder - bat left and Episcopo is a true lefty, hitting and throwing left handed.

"All four players have good speed and can hit for average and power," said Schroeder. "Overall this ranks in the top two recruiting classes that I have had while here at UC Santa Barbara and this is definitely the top offensive recruiting class since I have been here."