Brimming with confidence after a breakout season in 2002, the Gauchos will run onto the diamond with a little more sparkle in their eyes.

UCSB softball Head Coach Kristy Schroeder, last year’s Big West Softball Co-Coach of the Year, recruited three true freshmen and one junior college transfer. The four additions hope to be major contributors for the Gauchos (27-36, 12-12 in the Big West last season) in what could be the deepest and most talented squad in school history.

Freshman Kim Iverson, a promising hitter from Pismo Beach, can play any infield position. Iverson exhibits power at the plate and defensively she possesses a very good arm, according to Schroeder. While the Gauchos’ skipper praised the freshman for her versatility, Iverson seems more interested in lauding the rest of the team.

“I think we’re gonna be awesome,” Iverson said. “We should definitely be top two in the [Big West] conference. I know Cal State Fullerton is our big rival. Since I’m a freshman I don’t really understand the rivalry, but I understand that we really want to beat them and I definitely think we can.”

Iverson, who hopes to go to medical school after college, also spoke about how unique her experience at UCSB has been.

“I like school a lot more than I expected,” she said. “I thought people wouldn’t take it seriously. I was surprised to see how many people came to get a good education.”

Freshman Alicia Thompson is an experienced catcher from Mission Viejo and will give the Gauchos plenty of depth behind the plate.

“I’ve been catching for a long time,” Thompson said. “I call a good game, so I’d like to think that I will bring up the pitchers when I’m in the game. Hopefully, my hitting will be awesome. I can hit for power, but I’m mostly a line-drive, hit-for-average player.”

Thompson couldn’t be happier with life at school so far.

“I love it, this place is a blast!” Thompson said. “The team really helps out too. It’s a great group of girls. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Lodi native and freshman pitcher Carly Harmon will add depth to the pitching corps. Harmon possesses what Schroeder calls one of the best knuckleballs of any pitcher in her recruiting class.

“I like to throw junk pitches with a lot of movement,” Harmon said. “This year I just want to improve my pitches and help out wherever the coach needs me. As for the team, I definitely think we’re in the top two in the league. Let’s just see what happens.”

Harmon enjoys the girls on the team, as well as living with other athletes at Tropicana Gardens.

Heather Nobbe, a junior transfer from New Mexico State, should step in immediately at the shortstop position. Schroeder considers Nobbe, already voted a team captain, a natural leader.

“I think I’m a good communicator,” Nobbe said. “I have good hands defensively and I have a lot of sense for the game. Personally, I would love to make the All-Big West team but most importantly we want to win the conference.”

Nobbe is ecstatic about being at Santa Barbara instead of New Mexico and loves the team’s camaraderie.

With the expansion of 64 teams in NCAA postseason play, Schroeder has nothing but high expectations for the Gauchos.

“It’s a great opportunity for us [to make the postseason] if we play to our ability,” she said.