After coming off four straight wins, the UCSB softball team (22-24, 6-2) is stealing the conference – literally.
Senior right fielder Leslie Simien recently secured a place in the NCAA record books, propelling herself into 29th place all-time in stolen bases. Simien recorded her 111th and 112th stolen bases last weekend when the Gauchos toppled the UC Riverside Highlanders.
“It feels kind of special and very exciting moving into the record books for stolen bases. I never thought that stealing bases would really get recognized,’ Simien said. “Stealing bases is usually something that isn’t noticed, but I am glad to be recognized for this accomplishment.”
Simien has gone through the requisite ups and downs in her four years here, showing her speed and agility in the field and on the base path. Though she doesn’t think about her record during games, Simien is very proud of her spot in NCAA history.
“I don’t have any specific goals before each game, I just want to go out and play hard. I try to do whatever I can help the team so we can make it to regionals this year,” Simien said.
Satisfaction is something that Simien doesn’t seem to achieve. She is not satisfied being 29th in the record books, she isn’t satisfied having a second place record in the Big West and she still won’t be satisfied until she can lead her team to regionals in her final season and help put her whole team in the record books.
“I think we proved a lot, though we hit a rough road, but now everything is on track and coming together. It’s a beautiful thing to see us all playing together and doing well when it all counts,” Simien said of her team’s Big West surge. “Throughout my sophomore and junior years it was basically the same team, and now this year there is a group of young freshmen who are learning to get to know our style and getting together with our team chemistry.”
On Wednesday, Simien and the Gauchos will face #12 Fresno State (27-12) in a nonconference doubleheader at Campus Diamond starting at 1 p.m.. The games will be a chance for the Gauchos to strengthen their mediocre nonconference record of 16-22. A win over the Bulldogs would do wonders for a Gaucho postseason argument as well as their confidence going into the bulk of the Big West.
If Santa Barbara can continue to pitch and hit as they have in conference play, a win or two over Fresno State would not be too far-fetched. Much credit can be given to the stellar freshmen crop Head Coach Kristy Schroeder brought in – and even someone as fast as Simien can slow down to enjoy the view.
“All the freshman are doing so well and have proved so much. Their nerves are gone and now they can show on the field what they are really all about,” Simien said.