When Leslie Simien came to Santa Barbara, her father predicted that she would break the university’s stolen base record.
With three games and 21 innings left, Simien needs to snatch up one more base to own the single season Big West record.
Considering the Rickey Henderson clone had pilfered more bases than anyone else in the history of Laguna Hills High, doing the same in a Gaucho uniform shouldn’t have seemed too far out of the question.
So when Simien broke the record a couple of weeks ago against UC Riverside in only her sophomore year, she surprised herself.
“I didn’t even know I had broken it until after the game,” Simien said. “I’m really excited about it, but I’m not going to let that kind of thing go to my head.”
That’s a good thing, too, because with her 37 steals, Simien is one away from breaking the single season Big West record set in 1996 by Andrea Banford of New Mexico State.
Through all her running, Simien has never attempted to steal without the sign from her coach. Then again, she’s never really had to.
“I almost always get the sign,” she said.
And why not? Simien has successfully stolen base 37 of 44 times this season. That’s almost a guaranteed extra base every time she gets on.
“She’s the best base stealer that I’ve ever been around,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “If she can get that same jump on fly balls, she’ll be unstoppable in the outfield too.”
Simien has already become an anchor in the outfield. She had to move from center field to right field in the middle of the season, but adjusted well according to her coaches.
“She’s already in a leadership role out there,” UCSB Assistant Coach Becky Newbry said. “And we’re just hoping for more of the same in the future.”
Softball, however, isn’t Simien’s only talent. The base swiper can also karaoke. According to junior outfielder Sarah Brown, Simien “does the best Scary Spice impression I’ve ever seen. It’s probably better than the real thing.”
In addition to singing, Simien also enjoys watching synchronized swimming.
“I really like watching it during the Olympics,” she said. “It looks like it takes a lot of skill.”
When Newbry found out, her only reaction was to laugh.
“I hope that’s a joke,” she said. “Hey, maybe she can try it in her fifth year.”
Simien also has an interesting nickname, and it’s not the Flash.
“One day she came to practice with her hair in cornrows and somebody called her Snoop Dogg,” senior infielder Julia Tamai said. “I guess it just stuck.”
Simien didn’t exactly help herself out in trying to shed the nickname, though. After all, she uses Snoop’s “What’s My Name” as her theme song when she comes up to bat.
Despite her teammates’ playful roasting, Simien recognizes the value of her teammates.
“I’m really proud of this team,” Simien said. “And I’m really going to miss the seniors.”
The team will be playing in its last regular season series beginning Friday at Sacramento State. Senior infielder Kim Sawyer knows how big the series is in determining whether or not the Gauchos will enjoy postseason action and whether her career as a Gaucho will continue.
“We’re sort of on the bubble for regionals,” Sawyer said. “But we can totally sweep Sac State this weekend.”
The Gauchos are 26-34 on the year and11-10 in the Big West headed into the final regular season series.