SFT: Clark named top freshman in Big West

UCSB’s Kristen Clark was named Big West Freshman of the Year and six Gauchos were chosen to the all-conference team.

Clark, Kathryn Pilpil, and Shelby Wisdom were all named to the All-Big West First Team, while MeShalon Moore earned second team honors. Listed as all-conference honorable mentions were Lauren Boser and Emily Brucelas.

The recognition from the conference is coming off the heels of one of the best regular season finishes in UCSB softball history. The Gauchos finished 2014 with the best winning percentage in program history (.630) at 34-20. The 34 wins also tie the school record for most wins in a single season.

Kristen Clark was named Big West Freshman of the Year.

Kristen Clark was named Big West Freshman of the Year.

Clark put together one of the best seasons ever by a Gaucho, let alone a freshman, as she set the program records for single season hits (90) and single season batting average (.437). Those hits rank her third in the Big West record book, while they are also the most by a conference player since 1990. Her batting average was fifth in league history and was the best since 2007.

Clark also led UCSB with four triples (third in the Big West). Equally a threat on the bags as she is at the plate, the outfielder picked up 25 stolen bases this year, finishing second in the conference.

Her prolific numbers drew the attention from those outside the Big West, as Clark was also named as a finalist for the National Freshman of the Year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

For the second time in three seasons, UCSB has produced the Big West Freshman of the Year, as Clark follows teammate Shelby Wisdom (’12).

Wisdom is now a two-time All-Big West First Team honoree after leading UCSB with 22 pitching victories. Not only did the junior become the first Gaucho to record two 20+ win seasons, but she also became the program’s all-time winningest pitcher with 63 wins. She led the conference with 14 wins and 138.2 innings pitched in Big West play.

Aside from her work in the circle, Wisdom had one of the biggest bats on the UCSB roster, as she paced the team with 30 RBI, seven homers, and 19 extra base hits. In conference play, she hit for .381, slugged for .667 (fourth in the league). With her team-high 22 walks, Wisdom ranked fourth in the Big West with her .512 on-base percentage.

Kathryn Pilpil was named All-Big West First Team for the first time, as she has earned all-conference honors in three seasons through her career. The senior led UCSB with 37 runs (fifth in the Big West) and finished second on the team with 51 hits and 19 walks. She elevated her play during the conference schedule, as she hit for .344 in the Big West (trailing only Clark’s .446 mark). She also recorded a .467 on-base percentage during league play, which ranks her sixth among conference players.

Her best series of the season came on a 3-0 road sweep of Cal State Northridge when she hit for .600, five runs, and three RBI. She was named the Big West Field Player of the Week after going 6-10 at the plate with four doubles that weekend.

Catcher MeShalon Moore was named All-Big West Second Team after being tied for the conference lead with 14 doubles. The sophomore was also second on the Gauchos with both 51 hits and 19 walks. She improved throughout the season and even raised her batting average from .291 in nonconference play to .344 during the Big West schedule. She was terrific behind the dish, as she finished the season with a .980 fielding percentage.

Moore was voted as the Big West Field Player of the Week after leading UCSB to a 3-0 sweep of UC Riverside (May 3-4). She hit for .600 in the series and led the Gauchos with a .800 slugging percentage and four runs. In game three, she went 4-4 with two doubles and accounted for four of UCSB’s five runs in its 5-3 victory.

Lauren Boser ends her Gaucho career with her second consecutive All-Big West Honorable Mention. The senior co-led the team with 30 RBI and was second on the team with 11 doubles (tied for fifth in the Big West). She was also tied for second in the league with nine sacrifice hits. As one of the most consistent players in UCSB’s infield, Boser finished the year with a .993 fielding percentage, while leading the conference with 404 put outs.

One of Boser’s most memorable hits of the season was during the Gaucho Classic II when she cranked a grand slam in the sixth inning to cap off a 13-2 victory over Portland State (3/15).

Along with making the all-freshman team with Clark, shortstop Emily Brucelas was an All-Big West Honorable Mention. The freshman was tied for the team lead with 30 RBI and was also second with five home runs. She hit for .304 during conference play and again led the team with 16 RBI and 14 walks. Brucelas started and played shortstop for all of UCSB’s 54 games.

Perhaps her biggest moment of the year came in the Hawai’i series when she drove in the game-trying run to force extra innings in back-to-back games. First, in game one, she belted a two-run homer to help UCSB complete its 9-8 comeback win over the Rainbow Wahine. In the following game, she capped off a six-run seventh inning with an RBI single to right field to tie the game at 8-8.

Elsewhere, Cal State Fullerton’s Missy Taukeiaho was named the Player of the Year, while Sierra Hyland was tabbed as both the Pitcher of the Year Freshman Pitcher of the Year.