Titans Host Top-Tier Teams at Easton Invitational

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A LOOK AT THE WEEK: After knocking off No. 7 Missouri last Saturday (Feb. 23) and No. 10 UCLA on Tuesday (Feb. 26), the Cal State Fullerton (6-8) returns to Anderson Family Field to host the Easton Invitational. The Titans welcome nine programs from all over the country to compete from Friday (Mar. 1) to Sunday (Mar. 3). The Titans face Wisconsin, Indiana, Stanford, and Iowa in the tournament and will also play host to CSU Bakersfield, California, Northwestern, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Oregon State.

IN THE POLLS: Stanford comes into the week ranked as the No. 16 team in the USA Today/NFCA poll and No. 15 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches poll. Two teams ranked in the top 25 come to compete in the Easton Invitational. California enters the Easton Invitational as the No. 8 ranked team in the nation in the USA Today/NFCA poll and No. 7 ranked team in the ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches poll. The Golden Bears enter the tournament 11-2. While riding an 11-game winning streak the Oregon State Beavers come to Orange County ranked the 24th best team in the country according to the USA Today/NFCA poll. Neither the Badgers, Hoosiers, Hawkeyes or Titans are ranked in the polls. 

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.

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, fans can view the entire video via Youtube.com/CSFAthletics.

ABOUT WISCONSIN: The Wisconsin Badgers travel to sunny Southern California with a 10-1 record after recently defeating Boston University and Georgia Southern at the Diamond 9 Tournament in Orland, Fla. The Titans and Badgers will face off twice this weekend. Wisconsin will also play Stanford, California, CSU Bakersfield, and Cal Poly. Junior Mary Massei leads the Badgers with a .525 average to go along with four home runs and 17 RBI's. Wisconsin has six players batting over .300 and have a team batting average of .352. In the circle the Badgers are led by ace Cassandra Darrah. Darrah (6-0, 1.02) has 38 strikeouts in 41 innings on the season. Paige-Taylor Stewart (2-0, 0.82) and Meghan McIntosh (2-1, 1.94) also add to a pitching staff that has a combined 1.20 ERA and is only allowing opponent batters to hit .216. 

ABOUT INDIANA: Indiana enters the Easton Invitational with a 10-5 record. Last weekend, the Indiana softball team went 3-2 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla. The Hoosiers picked up wins against UMass, James Madison, and Fordham, while dropping games to UCF and Pacific. This weekend the Hoosiers will take on Cal Poly, Californiam Oregon State, and Stanford, in addition to the Titans. Kassi Farmer leads the team with two home runs and 13 RBI's  Brianna Meyers has added nine RBI's and Jenna Abraham has contributed seven RBI's for the Hoosiers. The Indiana pitching staff features Lora Olson (3-1, 1.38) and Meaghan Murphy (4-2, 3.13). Indiana pitchers combine for a 3.08 ERA and have allowed 37 runs in the 15 games they have played this season. Indiana defeated Georgia Tech twice this season who was ranked 24th at the time. 

ABOUT STANFORD: The 16th and 15th ranked poll in the country travels south to Anderson Family Field to take on Fullerton Saturday, March 2nd. The Cardinal have won 10 of their last 11 games. Stanford will take on Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Indiana this weekend, along with the Titans. Sarah Hassman leads the team with 19 hits. Hassman, Jessica Plaza, Hanna Winter, Jenna Rich all have two home runs apiece. The Cardinal are batting .296 on the season and have scored 95 runs in 17 games. Stanford lean on ace Kelsey Stevens (8-1, 0.99) to take control in the circle. Stevens has tossed six complete games and five shutouts. Teagan Gerhart, sister of NFL running back Toby Gerhart, is 6-2 on the year with a 1.83 ERA.

ABOUT IOWA: After going 3-2 last weekend at the Bama Bash in Tuscaloosa, Ala. the Hawkeyes travel west for the Easton Invitational. Iowa has opened the season with a 10-5 overall and is hitting .256 as a team. In the circle for the Hawkeyes, senior pitcher Chelsea Lyon leads the team with a 5-1 record and a 2.08 ERA. Junior Kayla Massey has thrown 48.2 innings and racked up 27 strikeouts, while also leading the squad with a .405 batting average. Sophomore Megan Blank is hitting .364 and leads the team with 14 RBI and a .591 slugging percentage. Senior Johnnie Dowling paces the team in hits (18) and runs scored (11).

SERIES HISTORIES: Cal State Fullerton is 1-3 all-time against Wisconsin, but havent met since 2010 when Wisconsin defeated the Titans 3-1 in Tempe, Ariz...Stanford leads the all-time series with Fullerton, 15-6, and has won the last six of seven meetings including a 13-1 victory on March 5, 2010...the Titans lead the all-time series versus the Hoosiers, 4-2. Last time the two teams met Indiana won 5-2 in 2011. The first two meetings between the schools occurred in 1983 and 1986 at the Women's College World Series in Omaha, NE...Iowa leads the all-time series versus Cal State Fullerton, 3-1, and has won the last three meetings including a 5-1 victory over the Titans two seasons ago on March 4, 2011. 

CONFERENCE CALL: Cal State Fullerton is 77-34 (.694) all-time against the current configuration of the Big Ten, and 144-144-1 (.500) against members of the current Pac-12 Conference.

EASTON INVITATIONAL: Cal State Fullerton has hosted the "Insert Bat Sponsor Here" Tournament dating back to 1998 under the DeMarini, Worth, and now Easton Invitational monikers, posting a 46-28 (.622) record in that span. The Titans finished 3-1 at last year's tournament posting wins over Florida International, Southern Miss, and Michigan State while falling to Oregon State in 2012. Fullerton's best record in this tournament came in 2002 when it finished a perfect 6-0.

PLAYING SPOILER: The Titans have taken down two top ten ranked opponents in the past week. On Feb. 26th, Fullerton defeated No. 10 11-5 at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles and defeated No. 7 Missouri 5-4 on Feb. 23, 2013 at Anderson Family Field. The last time the Titans took down a top ten team was on March 15, 2009 when they defeated the University of Washington 3-2 at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. 

TAKING DOWN THE BRUINS: After defeating UCLA 11-5 on Feb. 26th the Titans  not only took home a victory to add to the win column, but a new record. The Titans scored the most runs against UCLA since April 25, 1989 when they scored seven runs. The 11-run tally is the most in 73 meetings between the two schools.

WINNING COMBINATION: The Titans are 4-1 when head coach Kelly Ford puts out the starting lineup of Ashley Carter cf, Ariel Tsuchiyama c, Desiree Ybarra dp, Eliza Crawford 3b, Melissa Sechrest 1b, Jasmine Antunez p, Lauren Mario 2b, Leesa Harris lf, Tiffany Sheffler rf, and Samantha Galarza as the flex/ss. The Titans have tried eleven different lineup combinations this season.

GETTIN' ON THE BOARD FIRST: When the Titans score first in a game they are 4-0 compared to 2-8 when the opposing team scores first. The Titans did not score first against Loyola Marymount and Southern Miss. 

WE NEED HITS: The Titans are batting .235 this season, but when Cal State Fullerton out-hits the opponent they are 6-0 compared to 0-8 when the opponent out-hits them. The Titans produced 13 hits against UCLA to score 11 runs at Easton Stadium on February 26. 

TAKE CARE OF THE SOFTBALL: Cal State Fullerton is 4-2 when they commit no errors in a game and 2-6 when they do commit an error. The Titans have not committed an error in four of the past five games. 

STRIKEOUTS: Freshman Jasmine Antunez has started in all, but three games for the Titans in the circle and has struck out 57 batters over 49 2/3 innings. Antunez began the season striking out a batter in her first 17 innings, but that streak was snapped against Portland State on Feb. 15 in the Easton Desert Classic. 

SHOULDERING THE LOAD: In 11 starts as a freshman, Antunez is tied for first in the Big West in appearances (12), third in strikeouts (57), and third in innings pitched (49 2/3). Antunez is holding opponents to a .201 batting average this season, which ranks second in the Big West. 

KEEP THE STREAK ALIVE: Junior Ariel Tsuchiyama leads the team with a .412 average, 14 hits, and tied for a team-high 10 RBI's, while also riding a streak of reaching base in the last 13 games. Tsuchiyama ranks first in the Big West in batting average. Desiree Ybarra has also reached base safely in the past five games.

SECHREST OUT: Freshman Melissa Sechrest has blasted three home runs in her young career as a Titan, which makes her tied for fourth in the Big West for homeruns. The Peoria, Ariz. native is batting .184 with five RBI's on the season and has started every game as the first basemen. 

YBARRA DOES IT ALL: Sophomore Desiree Ybarra was the Titan's ace last season, but this season she has contributed in the circle and at the plate. Ybarra in the circle is 1-3 with one save. Her 2.31 is fifth best in the Big West. Ybarra's bat has been a big addition for the Titans. The Riverside, Calif. native has a .345 average, two home runs, and 10 RBI's. In the last four games, Ybarra has had two home runs and  9 RBI's. She is also tied for second in the Big West with five doubles. 

SOMEONE TURNED UP THE A.C: After blasting a triple to the center field fence in game two versus McNeese State on Feb. 11, 2013, Ashley Carter moved up to fourth on the all-time list  in career triples with nine tieing Carey Hess, who played for the Titans from 1987-90.

IN THE CIRCLE: Even though the Titans are off to a 6-8 start the Titan's pitching staff ranks second in the Big West in  ERA (2.78) behind Pacific's (2.48). Titan opponents are batting .260 against the staff and have held teams to under six hits five times in nine games. 

BETTER IN CALI': The Titans did not fair well in their first road trip outside of California going 1-4 over the last weekend in Las Vegas, Nev. at the Easton Desert Classic. The Titans are 3-3 at Anderson Family Field. 

IRON WOMEN: Catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama has started the last 13 games behind the backstop for the Titans, while leading the Titans with a .412 batting average as the starting catcher. 

RECYCLED NOTES:

NEW ERA: Head Coach Kelly Ford began her first stint as the head coach of Cal State Fullerton softball program on Feb. 7, 2013. Ford recorded her first win in game two versus Southern Miss, 4-2. Fordspent 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. 

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.

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. 

PLAYING JAPAN TOYOTA: The Titans played against the Japan Toyota professional softball team on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at Anderson Family Field, losing 7-1. The Titans and Japan Toyota played seven-inning exhibition contest, as Japan Toyota gets ready for their upcoming season. Team Toyota comes over to the United States annually to play collegiate and professional teams to prepare for the Japan Softball League. Team Toyota features USA Softball Olympians Monica Abbott and Natasha Watley, who have won back-to-back Japan Softball League Championships (2011 & 2012).

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).  

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. 

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. 

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.