You should always look at the bright side of things.
Yes, the UCSB softball team (32-31) ended its postseason play with two quick losses, but the team’s accomplishments over the course of the season are astonishing.
At the season start many looked at the Gaucho roster and witnessed a rarity as the team showed freshman or sophomores taking ten of the seventeen roster spots. Most would see this as a problem but Head Coach Kristy Schroeder believed in her team, knowing that even though they were young they could perform out on the field. As the first weeks of the season began and things didn’t go as smoothly as predicted, Schroeder and the team knew they just needed some time to gel.
“When we first started the season no one really knew each other and how they played which made things kind of difficult,” freshman left fielder Jessica Hejna said. “We grew as a team and have a bright future. It is sad to the seniors leave and they have taught us a lot that we can use for the rest of our time at UCSB.”
A key loss this season will be senior right fielder Leslie Simien, who has led the Gauchos with a speed and performance that the team has needed at the one spot in the roster. Simien was named to the NFCA All-West Region Second Team after breaking the NCAA record books. She stole her 111th and 112th career bases, moving her to 29th in NCAA softball history. Other key losses for the Gauchos include senior center fielder Davis Beck and senior first baseman Heather Nobbe.
“Leslie has been the team leader since day one,” freshman catcher Shelby Hensler said. “Heather and Davis also were such big contributors each day providing us with encouragement on and off the field.”
This season, spectators witnessed a few underclassmen that played like they have been at the collegiate level for the past four years themselves. Freshman pitcher Jennifer Davis jumped into a major role, showing her command and power on the mound early in the season. Davis finished with a 16-16 record, a mere 2.83 ERA and 199 strikeouts on the season. Shortstop Kendra Singley, another freshman, was the added power the Gauchos needed at bat. She belted seven homeruns and chipped in 33 RBIs. Junior Lindsey Herrin was amazing on the mound and at the plate the entire season. Herrin posted a 2.75 ERA with a 7-2 record, while breaking the Gauchos home run record with 10 home runs on the year.
“We should have a great team next season because we are so young,” Hejna said.
The Gauchos have already added two new players to next year’s roster in Danielle Meyers from Lodi High School and Chelsi Bush from Escondido High School. Bush will replace Simien and is expected to cause trouble batting first in the lineup next season. Meyers will compete for the third baseman role next season in addition to posting stellar command at the plate for the Gauchos.
“They are both great competitors and are used to being the one on their teams to make things happen,” Schroeder said. “We are extremely excited to have Chelsi and Danielle join the team next fall. They will bring both speed and power to the Gauchos. These two players are capable of making big contributions immediately, both Chelsi and Danielle will be great additions to the UCSB softball program.”
Though the team lost quickly in Tucson, UCSB accomplished more than any other Gaucho softball team in history, making their first-ever postseason appearance and a second place finish in the Big West. The future is bright on the softball field for next year.