When something good happens on the field for the UCSB softball team, there’s a good chance that junior catcher and first baseman Jami Trinidad had something to do with it.

At the end of the ball game with runners on base and the game on the line, Trinidad is the player the Gauchos want in the box.

“Jami is really athletically talented. She reacts well and has good instincts, especially at the plate,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “She has done a lot of good things for us this year, especially with runners in scoring position.”

After a sophomore campaign where she led Santa Barbara in most offensive categories, Trinidad is at it again. Only now she is even more efficient.

She has already matched last season’s number of hits with 38 while only playing in nine conference games. She has also driven in six more runs than last year’s output with 25 RBIs. Amassing a .319 batting average and hitting a stellar .400 clip during Big West play, Trinidad has stepped up against Big West foes. Of her 38 hits, she has eight doubles, a triple and five homers.

“Jami is a great hitter. She is really composed out there,” junior outfielder Natalie Adame said. “She never lets things bother her. She can have a really bad at-bat, and then hit a home run the next time she goes out there. She is really consistent.”

Trinidad began playing softball when she was four years old, when her parents and older brother Jason, a baseball player, introduced her to the sport. Her mother earned an All-CIF honor at softball in high school as a catcher and eventually taught her daughter the skills of the position at an early age.

“I never really looked up to any professional athletes,” Trinidad said. “But I really looked up to my mom as a woman athlete when I was growing up.”

Trinidad grew up just a few hours south of Santa Barbara, in Norwalk, California, where she attended St. Paul High school. She competed on the varsity softball team all four years. Trinidad raked in four First-Team All-Del Rey League awards, two all-CIF accolades and the Whittier Daily News Player of the Year her senior season.

Yet it was only by a last minute chance that she ended up here in Santa Barbara. Trinidad was primarily recruited by schools outside of California. Trinidad eventually decided to attend college close to home. Late in her senior year of high school, UCSB finally came knocking on Trinidad’s door. And without even making a visit to the campus, Trinidad signed on as a Gaucho.

Trinidad cites the competitiveness and many physical and mental dimensions of softball as the aspects that continue to draw her to the sport. But the thing that has kept her on the diamond is simply the enjoyment of the game itself. The element of fun was tried in her first two years with the program. The Gauchos struggled mightily the two previous seasons.

That all changed this year for Trinidad and the rest of the Gauchos with the installment of a new coaching staff in Schroeder and Assistant Coach Becky Newbry. Their combination of teaching fundamentals while positively motivating the players has taught the 2002 Santa Barbara squad not only to have fun, but to compete at a higher level with certainty and poise in all the players’ abilities.

“This year when I go up to bat, I am very confident,” Trinidad said. “I just have the feeling that I can hit against any of the pitchers I face.”

Trinidad is majoring in sociology and minoring in history with aspirations to one day become a college history professor. She enjoys American history the most, citing the Roaring ’20s as an era she would have liked to have seen.

Though Trinidad finds most of her time devoted to being a student-athlete, she still finds time for things besides studying and softball.

Trinidad has also been known to take her vocals one step beyond shower singing, never missing an opportunity to put on a karaoke show at teammates Davis Beck and Julia Tamai’s house.

“She does a great rendition of Madonna and the Spice Girls,” Beck said.

All jokes aside, when it comes down to game time, Trinidad is all business.

“She is a real fierce competitor,” Schroeder said.

Senior captain and second baseman Kim Sawyer shares a similar sentiment about Trinidad’s competitive edge.

“She’s got the most beautiful smile complete with dimples and everything off the field,” Sawyer said, “but she can look pretty vicious on the field.”