SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara softball team is headed north this weekend for a five-game slate at the NorCal Kickoff as it gets set to begin its 2019 regular season on Friday.
Just one year removed from a postseason appearance, the Gauchos are coming off a 2018 campaign in which they went 20-34 overall and 7-14 in conference play, the latter being tied with Hawaii for the seventh-best mark in the Big West.
Highlighting the 11-Gaucho returning faction is three-time All-Big West Teamer Sierra Altmeyer, as well as 2018 All-Freshman Team selections Sammy Fabian and Maci Fines. Altmeyer is coming off an All-Conference Second Team selection last year, when she led the Gauchos in runs (33), RBIs (31), doubles (11), home runs (8), walks (28), on base percentage (.420) and slugging percentage (557).
Second-year Gauchos Fabian and Fines return following standout freshman seasons. Playing out of left field last year, Fabian would go on to lead the team in hits (54), batting average (.335) and stolen bases (9), earning All-Big West Honorable Mention recognition in the process. Her 26 runs were also good for third-most on the team. Defensively, she was solid throughout the year, finishing with a .988 fielding percentage after tallying just one error.
Fines meanwhile finished the year with a .290 average (47-for-162) but found a groove against Big West opponents, finishing third in the conference with a .380 batting average (27-for-71) during league play. After settling into an infield position, she came on particuarly strong over the final stretch of the season, hitting .444 (16-for-36) over the last 10 games. She ended up with 11 multi-hit games to go along with a team-high three triples, one homerun, 28 runs, and 10 RBIs.
Also included among the team's returners are outfielders Alyssa Lazatin (34 hits, 21 RBI in 2018), and Rayna Cohen (38 hits, 26 RBI), infielders Kayla Krantz (19 hits, 16 RBI), Melanie Menor (37 hits, 12 RBI) and Genesis Ramirez (38 hits, 28 walks), and pitchers Felisha Noriega, Emily Schuttish and Veronika Gulvin.
Noriega led the Gauchos in the circle with 112 innings pitched as a sophomore last year, posting a 7-8 record as a starter. Her 55 strikeouts were also a team-high. Gulvin, who enters her senior year in 2019, was right behind Noriega, posting six wins to go along with 43 strikeouts. As a freshman, Schuttish finished with three wins and a team-high 3.78 ERA.
UCSB also brings six newcomers to Campus Diamond, including Utah State transfer Devan Sperry Jr. (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) and Mt. Sac standout Carissa Felix (Montclair, Calif. / Ontario HS) along with four freshmen. Sperry posted career-highs across the board as a sophomore last year, finishing with 20 hits, four doubles, three homers and 15 RBI at USU. Felix dominated at Mt. Sac, helping lead the Mounties to a 41-7 record while totaling 59 hits and 41 runs on a .415 batting average.
Rounding out the newcomers are Gaucho freshmen infielders Teah Thies (Laguna Hills, Calif. / Laguna Hills HS) and Ally Nodohara (Morgan Hill, Calif. / Ann Sobrato HS), pitcher Alyssa Molina (Los Angeles, Calif. / Notre Dame S.O.) and outfielder Tyler Goldstein (Agoura Hills, Calif. / Agoura HS).
Head coach Brie Galicinao returns to coach the Gauchos alongside assistant coach Alysia Hendricks. Galicinao begins her 12th season at the helm just nine wins away from 300 for her career.
The Gauchos are scheduled to open the season this Friday at the NorCal Kickoff in Sacramento State with games against Cal State Bakersfield (9:00 am) and Sac State (2:00 pm), dependent on weather. The following day, UCSB will move over to Davis, Calif. for a Saturday game against Montana (9:30 am) and two Sunday games against Nevada (9:30 am) and Santa Clara (12:00 pm).
Next weekend, Santa Barbara will travel south to San Diego, Calif. for five games at the 28th Annual Campbell/Cartier Classic.