Wrapping up the 2002 season fourth in the Big West after an eighth-place finish the year before, the UCSB softball team received deserved conference recognition.

The Big West named first-year UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder the Big West Co-Coach of the Year after turning around a program seemingly on the decline. Senior shortstop Julia Tamai was also selected for the First Team All-Big West.

Junior catcher Jami Trinidad received the nod for a Second Team All-Big West honor, while the conference selected sophomore rightfielder Leslie Simien and junior pitcher Loren Thornburg to the Honorable Mention All-Big West list.

Head Coach Brian Kolze of University of the Pacific joined Schroeder with the coaching honors. Kolze guided the Tigers to second in the Big West with a 42-15 overall record.

Schroeder replaced Liz Kelly and a listless ballclub before the beginning of the season. Schroeder transformed the attitude of a team that lost only one senior, third baseman Teresa Tolson.

Schroeder led the Gauchos to a 12-12 conference record, dramatically improving on last year’s 4-17 mark. Santa Barbara finished 27-36 overall, an improvement of nine wins over last season. More importantly, the Gauchos contended with the strongest teams while having a chance to clinch third place until the last series of the year.

“I was very surprised by the honor,” Schroeder said. “I feel the team did a good job this season, especially towards the end. This award reflects upon them. I owe a lot to the players and the coaching staff.”

-Nexus Staff Report