Titans Open 2013 Season on Thursday

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FULLERTON, Calif.--The 34th varsity season of Cal State Fullerton softball opens this week at Anderson Family Field as the Titans kick off the 2013 campaign against Southern Miss on Thursday, before hosting McNeese State on Friday.

NEW LOOK BIG WEST: The Big West Conference Board of Directors announced on Dec. 10, 2010 that Hawai'i will re-join the Big West as of July 2012. The Warriors, women's programs were previously part of the Big West from 1984-96. 

BE A FOLLOWER: Fans can keep up with the latest in Titan athletics by following us on Facebook (CSUF Athletics), Twitter (@FullertonTitans) and Youtube (www.youtube.com/CSFAthletics). Also follow the softball Twitter (@CSUFsoftball).

I NEED STATS, STAT!: Live stats will be provided for both games this week. To access live stats for the games, go to www.FullertonTitans.com and go to the softball schedule then click live stats.

IN THE POLLS: Neither the Titans, Golden Eagles, or Cowgirls are ranked in the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Coaches poll or USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll.

FIRST PITCH: The Titans are honored to have Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Lea Jarnigan throw out the first pitch on Thursday at 3 p.m. vs. Southern Miss. Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Berenca Johnson Eanes will throw out the ceremonial first pitch against McNeese on Friday at 3 p.m.

NEW ERA: Head Coach Kelly Ford begins her first stint as the head coach of Cal State Fullerton softball program. Ford spent 11 seasons at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., recording a 455-102-1 record overall (.812 winning percentage). Prior to her time at Mt. SAC, Ford worked under former coach Michelle Gromacki as an assistant in 2000 and 2001. 

FORD PREVIEWS 2013: Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Kelly Ford  and Associate Head Coach Dee Dee Kingsbury sat down with the sports information staff to discuss the upcoming 2013 campaign. Filmed by department videographer Matt Brown.

ABOUT SOUTHERN MISS: The Golden Eagles return two position starters, one starting pitcher, and five letter winners overall for the 2013 season after posting a 13-34 record (4-19 Conference USA) a season ago...sophomore Caroline Walker returns to lead the offense after batting .336 with one homerun, 13 RBIs, and 25 runs scored...Walker is joined by infielder Mackenzie Sher who produced four home runs and 22 RBIs...senior right-hander Beth Dietrich (7-16, 3.62 ERA, 82 K's) leads a pitching staff that combined for a 4.11 ERA last season...Co-Head Coaches Jon Malgradi and Kirsten Voak return for their second season with Southern Miss.

ABOUT MCNEESE STATE: The Cowgirls return seven starters, two pitchers, and 11 letterwinners overall off of last season's squad that finished 34-21 overall and 12--8 in the Southland Conference for third place...junior outfielder Alanna DiVittorio returns to lead the offense after batting .321 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs...sophomore catcher Ashley Modzelewski also helps pace the offense returning from a freshman campaign where she batted .269 with five home runs and 28 RBIs...senior right-hander Meagan Bond (16-8, 3.36 ERA) returns to the circle for the Cowgirls...Head Coach Mike Smith is entering his second season for McNeese State after eight seasons at California Baptist University in Riverside, Calif., where he recorded over 600 collegiate victories. 

SERIES HISTORY: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Southern Miss 2-0, winning the last meeting 4-2, on March 2 at the 2012 DeMarini Invitational in Fullerton...Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with McNeese State 4-0, winning the last meeting back on April 10, 1999 6-3...The Titans and Cowgirls have always played in a neutral location, making this the first trip for the Cowgirls to Fullerton...Friday's Meeting with McNeese State will be the first meeting between the two programs in 13 years.

CONFERENCE CALL: Cal State Fullerton is 3-2 (.600) all-time against the current configuration of Conference USA and a combined 12-8 (.600) against current Southland opponents.

FOR OPENERS: Cal State Fullerton is 24-9 (.727) all-time in season opening contests, having won five of  its last seven after a 23-0 loss vs. Texas last season at the Texas Classic. 2013will mark the first time since 2009 that the Titans have opened up the season at home, last time beating Indiana 9-2 on February 8, 2009. 

PRESEASON POLL: The Cal State Fullerton softball team was picked to finish sixth in the race for the 2013 Big West Conference title according to a vote of the league's head coaches released on Jan. 30, 2013. The Titans received 33 points to finish behind newcomer Hawai'i, which received four first-place votes and 76 points to top defending  champion Long Beach State (73 points).  

A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Fullerton finished sixth in the Big West race a season ago with a 8-13 mark in conference play to go along with a 20-31 overall record. The Titans return six position starters and three pitchers while welcoming nine newcomers to the fold for the 2013 season. Leading the way for returners is senior outfielder Ashley Carter, an all-conference first-team selection who hit .325 to go along with 55 hits and 27 runs scored. In the circle, sophomore Desiree Ybarra returns after earning all-conference honorable mention accolades a season ago, finishing 13-17 with a 4.66 ERA and 87 strikeouts.

WE'RE HONORED: Cal State Fullerton placed seven players on the 2012 Big West Conference all-league honors: Ashley Carter, Leesa HarrisNicole Johnson, Morgan LeMond, Adriana Martinez, Desiree Ybarra, and Anissa Young). Three of those all-conference honorees return for 2013: Ashley Carter, Leesa Harris, and Desiree Ybarra. 

WRATH OF THE TITANS: Among the league's top offensive teams in 2011, 2012 wasn't anything different as the Titans finished second in runs scored, second in stolen bases, and third in RBIs. The 2012 Titans finished with a .280 batting average topping 2011's .275 average. Cal State Fullerton also produced the most hits (365) in program history since 2007. 

COMMANDING THE CIRCLE: Freshman Desiree Ybarra proved to be a key force for the Titans in the circle for the 2012 season. In a weekend series vs. Cal Poly (March 31-April 1) Ybarra, held the Mustang offense in check, going the distance in both of her victories and finishing 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 14 innings of work.

KEEP THE STREAK ALIVE: Dating back to the 2011 season, junior catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama has a seven-game hitting streak entering the 2013 season. Tsuchiyama missed the 2012 season with a shoulder injury.  

NOTHING BUT THE BEST: According to the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Coaches poll and USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll the Titans will face eight teams ranked in the preseason top 25. 

FIVE SIGN WITH CAL STATE FULLERTON FOR 2014: Cal State Fullerton softball Head Coach Kelly Ford announced that high school standouts  Sydney Colenzo, Megan Estacio, Olivia Martinez, Delynn Rippy, and Kayla Silverstein have signed National Letters of Intent to continue their academic and athletic careers with the Titans beginning with the 2014 season. 

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