UCSB Kicks Off 2017 Campaign at Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational

Left to Right: Melanie Menor, Lena Mayer, Sierra Altmeyer (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Left to Right: Melanie Menor, Lena Mayer, Sierra Altmeyer (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

The Schedule
Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 at 1:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Wichita State
At Cougar Softball Stadium
All-time record vs. Shockers: 6-2
Last time: W, 2-1 (2/21/14)
Live Stats

Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Houston
At Cougar Softball Stadium
All-time record vs. Cougars: 2-2
Last time: L, 12-10 (3/6/15)
Live Stats

Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 at 11:30 a.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Wright State
At Cougar Softball Stadium
All-time record vs. Raiders: 0-0
Live Stats

Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Wichita State
At Cougar Softball Stadium
All-time record vs. Shockers: 6-2
Last time: W, 2-1 (2/21/14)
Live Stats

Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017 at 8:30 a.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Boston College
At Cougar Softball Stadium
All-time record vs. Eagles: 0-0
Live Stats

Houston Invitational Preview

The Gauchos will open the 2017 season up at the Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational this weekend. On Friday, UCSB will kick things off against Wichita State before facing tournament host Houston later that night. Saturday will see the Gauchos face Wright State before playing Wichita State for the second time in two days. They will then close out the tournament against Boston College on Sunday morning. This weekend will see UCSB's first ever matchups with Boston College and Wright State.

2016 Recap

Last year, UCSB finished with a 28-28 overall, 11-10 conference record. Of the five Gauchos that were named All-Conference in 2016, senior Kristen Clark (First Team) and sophomore Sierra Altmeyer (Second Team) are the only returners for the 2017 season. A program record three Gauchos were also voted to the All-Freshman team, including Altmeyer, Veronika Gulvin and Melanie Menor. Santa Barbara finished in fourth place in the Big West standings.

Preseason Poll

UCSB was selected to finish sixth in this year's Big West Preseason Coaches Poll. Reigning Big West champion Cal State Fullerton (57) was just slightly ahead of Long Beach State (55) for a first place prediction.

Gauchos In The Outfield

All three of the Gauchos' outfield starters from last season will be back on the field this weekend, led by three-time All-Big West recipient senior Kristen Clark. Last year, Clark continued to write her name all over the UCSB record book, finishing with the program's third-best single-season marks in batting average (.403) and hits (72) while becoming the first Gaucho ever to bat .400 in two different seasons. Alongside her are junior Jessica Johnston (.322) and senior Jacqueline Hinojosa (.308), who finished second and third on the team in batting average, respectively. As a sophomore, Johnston was second on the team with 14 extra base hits and had the highest fielding percentage among starting outfielders with a .975 mark. Hinojosa tied for the team-lead with nine sacrifice hits, tallying 41 hits and 11 RBIs in all.

On The Inside

Infielders Sierra Altmeyer, Emily Brucelas and Melanie Menor all return to action this weekend as well. In 2016, Altmeyer established herself as UCSB's top power hitter, earning a spot on both the All-Big West Second Team and All-Freshman Team in just her freshman year. She ended the year with team-leading marks of seven home runs and 42 RBIs. The seven homers were the fifth-most in the conference, while the 42 RBIs made up the third-highest total in Gaucho history. Brucelas meanwhile tallied a second-leading five home runs and 26 RBIs, while Menor added 21 RBIs and tied for the team-high with nine sacrifice hits.

A New Role & Some Newcomers

Sophomore Veronika Gulvin figures to fill in as the starting pitcher following the departure of Ashley Ludlow. As a freshman last year, Gulvin pitched the second-most innings (113.1) on the team, finishing with a 3.52 ERA, one save and an 8-12 record. Newcomers who could potentially make some noise out of the gates in their freshman season are pitcher Felisha Noriega, infielder Alyssa Diaz and catcher/utility Genesis Ramirez.