After setting the new single-season strike out record at 232 and in pitching 73 percent of UCSB’s total innings this season, junior starting pitcher Jenn Davis is kind of a big deal.

Davis (18-17), a three-year starter for the Gauchos, turned in a remarkable 2006 season performance after the departure of #2 pitcher junior transfer Ginger Gutierrez. The Whittier, Calif. native had a 2.60 ERA on the year, pitching in 37 of UCSB’s 46 games, starting 34 and going the distance in 30 games.

“There was a point in the year that she struggled quite a bit and I thought she did more so than any of the year, but came back and pulled herself together and pitched real well, like she’s capable of,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “The adversity of losing another starting pitcher and feeling the pressure of leading the team got to her a little bit. … I’m real proud of how she finished the season.”

Voted by her teammates in the end of the year awards as team captain, Davis was a leader on the diamond for the Gauchos and will be part of the six-person senior class next year, which has played together since their freshman year.

Davis has outperformed herself every year, improving from her freshman 2.63 ERA, which was good for an All-Big West honorable mention, to post a team-low 2.09 ERA last season with 197 strikeouts, first place in the Big West. In addition to gaining valuable experience in the circle, Davis has also expanded her pitching repertoire.

“She has a little bit of everything, she can throw hard when she needs to. She [is] … one of those pitchers who has all the pitches and throws hard, that’s why she’s capable of having so many strikeouts,” Schroeder said. “She’s just a very capable pitcher, has a lot of athletic ability.”

Davis finished out the 2006 campaign strong, pitching nine consecutive complete games for the Gauchos, posting a 5-4 record along the way. Davis also received Big West Pitcher of the Week accolades twice this season and was nominated to the All-Big West Second Team for the second consecutive year.

While pitching in the circle, Davis also tore up the base paths, hitting a team fourth .246 on the season and a .406 slugging percentage. Davis has helped her cause in more than one clutch situation – she drove in UCSB’s only runs with a solo shot in the May 13 game versus Long Beach State and against Southern Illinois University in Evanston last weekend.

Davis earned the win in Santa Barbara’s biggest victory of the year – a 2-0 win over #5 Stanford – giving up just three hits to the Cardinal, striking out nine batters. The Gaucho workhorse finished the season with an 18-17 overall record, tying for first place in most victories by a UCSB pitcher.

“If Jenn pitches her best game, she could beat anyone in the country,” Schroeder said. “She’s a more all-around athlete than any of the pitchers in our league, even [Texas pitcher] Kat Osterman, that’s why she’s so valuable. If she wasn’t pitching all the time, she’s capable of playing other positions and hitting the ball. … If she’s pitching the way she’s capable of, we really can we can beat anyone in the country.”