UC Santa Barbara Hosts Hawaii In Key Softball Series
Winners of seven of its last eight contests, UC Santa Barbara has moved into sole possession of second place in the Big West softball standings, trailing league leader Long Beach State by two games. The Gauchos host Hawai‘i this week as they continue their chase on the top spot.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Big Accomplishment: The Mustangs became the first team to sweep Hawai“i in a conference road series since 2011. Cal Poly overcame deficits in the first two games to pull out victories, and led wire-to-wire in the series finale. Boise State swept UH on the islands in April of 2011 when both schools were members of the Western Athletic Conference.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Taukeiaho Moves Up Chart: Sophomore Missy Taukeiaho smacked her league-leading 14th home run of the year in Cal State Fullerton’s 8-0, run-rule victory over Long Beach State. She moved into a tie for sixth place on the Big West single-season chart with five others. Taukeiaho’s next roundtripper will slide her into a fifth place tie with UNLV’s Kim Rondina (1995).
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Elder Reaches Milestone: Junior Brianna Elder picked up two victories against UC Riverside to become Cal State Northridge’s first 20-game winner since 2001 when Sarah Farnworth posted a 25-16 reord. Elder improved to 20-8 on the year. The program’s Division I record for wins belongs to Amy Windmiller, who went 26-2 in 1994.
LONG BEACH STATE
Still In First: Long Beach State’s winning streaks of 11 in a row overall and nine consecutive in Big West play fell by the wayside as the 49ers lost the first two games in their series with Cal State Fullerton last week. However, the 49ers (10-2) still lead the Big West by two games as they attempt to capture their second conference championship in the last three seasons.
Home Run Threat: Junior Amy Nunez and sophomore Kelly Zboralske launched back-to-back solo homers as part of a five-run fourth inning, helping the Aggies notch a 5-2 victory against UC Santa Barbara. It was Zboralske’s team-best sixth roundtripper. The designated hitter has accounted for one-third of the team’s 17 long bombs.
Roadrunner: Senior Dionne Anderson stole a pair of bases for the third time in the last four contests, and leads the Big West with 11 multi-steal games. In addition to leading the conference with 41 steals, Anderson ranks among the leaders in average (5th - .382), runs scored (t-3rd - 31), hits (7th - 50) and walks (2nd - 26).
UC SANTA BARBARA
Momentum Shift: UC Santa Barbara has followed up a six-game losing streak with wins in seven of its last eight games. The recent success lifted the Gauchos into second place in the Big West at 8-4, and two games out of first. The Gauchos play six of their last nine games at home, including a season-ending showdown against first place Long Beach State.
Le’ili’i Keeps Raking: Hawai‘i ranks second in the Big West with 47 home runs, only one behind leader Cal State Fullerton. Junior Leisha Li’ili’i is No. 2 league-wide with 12 home runs, and is only one off her career high of 13 she set in 2013.
Three Finalists For NFCA Freshman Of The Year: The Big West boasts three representatives for the inaugural NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy – UC Santa Barbara outfielder Kristen Clark, Cal State Northridge outfielder Taylor Glover and Cal Poly pitcher/designated player Sierra Hyland.
The three inclusions on the 25-member list ranks the Big West third among conferences for most representation.
Clark leads the Big West in hits (69), ranks second in average (.416) and stolen bases (25), and is tied for third in runs scored (31). She is on pace to break the school records for average (.417) and hits (75) set by current UCSB assistant coach Christine Ramos in 2009.
Glover has sparked the Matadors in her initial collegiate campaign. She tops the Big West with 44 RBI and 11 multi-RBI games, and also sports a league-best and Division I program record six triples. Glover ranks No. 2 among conference players with 37 runs scored and 62 hits, and No. 5 in average (.388). Her 17 stolen bases are three away from setting a new CSUN Division I record.
Hyland is the third 20-win pitcher in Cal Poly history, and is tied for second in single-season victories with 21. The right-hander leads the Big West in ERA (1.76), wins, strikeouts (221), complete games (23) and innings pitched (202.2). Hyland ranks No. 9 nationally in strikeouts and is tied for No. 10 in victories.
The 25-player list will be trimmed to the top 10 finalists on Thursday, May 8, while the top 3 finalists will be announced on Thursday, May 22. The winner will be presented on May 27 during a live ceremony prior to the start of the College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Hyland’s Historic Season Propels Mustangs: Cal Poly freshman Sierra Hyland is having one of the finest seasons in school history. After posting a pair of wins at Hawai‘i last weekend, Hyland improved to 21-7 and continued to lead the Big West in victories. Additionally, Hyland joined two-time All-American Desarie Knipfer (1997) as the only Mustangs to post a 200-strikeout, 200-inning, 20-win season.
Simply The Best: UC Riverside senior Dionne Anderson successfully rewrote the Big West record book last weekend after stealing four bases during the Cal State Northridge series. The four pilfers gave her a Big West single-season record 41, surpassing UC Santa Barbara’s Leslie Simien, who had held the record of 39 since 2002. Anderson will not be able to touch Simien’s Big West career record 121 steals, but she should be firmly entrenched at No. 2. Anderson and San Jose State’s Noleana Woodard (1989-93) are tied for second all-time with 80 steals.
||Leslie Simien, UCSB
||Dionne Anderson, UCR
||Noleana Woodard, SJSU
Scorching: Cal State Fullerton sophomore Missy Taukeiaho has posed as a nightmarish challenge for opposing Big West pitchers. Through 12 conference games, Taukeiaho is No. 1 in average (.537), runs scored (14), hits (22), RBI (14), on-base percentage (.607) and slugging percentage (.927).
30-For-30: The Big West is seeking four 30-win programs for the first time since the 2007 season. Long Beach State is already there with a 33-13 record. But Cal State Northridge (29-19), UC Santa Barbara (28-17), Cal State Fullerton (26-18-1) and Cal Poly (25-16) are all closing in on the mark. The last time at least five schools logged 30 victories in one season? That was 1997 – when six programs achieved the mark.