FULLERTON, Calif.-- The 35th varsity season of Cal State Fullerton softball opens this week at Anderson Family Field as the Titans kick off the 2014 campaign hosting the Easton Tournament. The Titans will face Loyola Marymount & defending national champions Oklahoma on Friday, Santa Clara & Pittsburgh on Saturday, and wrap up against George Washington on Sunday.
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I NEED STATS, STAT!: Live stats will be provided for all 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.
QUICK SPLASH IN THE BIG WEST: Hawai'i made their re-join to the Big West in 2014 a memorable one. The Warriors finished with a conference record of 20-4, capturing the conference crown. The Titans finished in third place in the Big West with a conference mark of 13-11.
IN THE POLLS: Defending national champions Oklahoma is ranked second in the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Coaches poll and USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll. Neither the Titans, Lions, Broncos, Panthers or Colonials are currently ranked in the polls.
ON THE WAY UP: Coach Ford's Titans endured a challenging 2013 schedule which mirrored a rise in the rankings in RPI to finish 3rd in the Big West and 58th overall in the country. This was a staggering improvement to the 199th rated RPI in 2012. The Titans will face another impressive schedule in 2014, competing against eight of the top 25 teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll. This includes first-ranked Tennessee and second-ranked Oklahoma.
FORD PREVIEWS 2014: Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Kelly Ford sat down with the sports information staff to discuss the upcoming 2014 campaign. Filmed by department videographer Matt Brown, fans can view the entire video via Youtube.com/CSFAthletics.
ABOUT LOYOLA MARYMOUNT: The Lions finished with an overall record of 33-23 while posting a Pacific Coast Softball Conference record of 16-8. Led by senior Meghan Harman, the infielder was able to post a team high in batting avg. (.338), slugging pct. (.597) and on base pct. (.438). The Titans have posted a 12-3 record against the Lions of LMU last playing them in 2013 in Palm Springs, CA being victorious 7-1.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA: The defending national champion Sooners finished off the season with a 57-4 overall mark, 15-2 in the Big 12. The team returns junior infielder Lauren Chamberlain who posted a .458 batting avg., 87 runs scored, 77 hits, 30 home runs and 84 RBI. Lauren finished tops in all five of these categories atop the Big 12 Conference. She was one of three finalists for the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year while also being named on the 2013 USA Softball Women's National Team. The Titans are 9-5 against the Sooners all time, though tasting a 9-0 defeat in the last meeting in 2013.
ABOUT SANTA CLARA: The Broncos return senior outfielder Stephanie Fisher who led the Broncos in batting avg. (.320), runs (17), hits (48) and doubles (12) and RBI (15). The Titans post a 4-1 record against the Broncos, last facing them in 2010. CSF is also undefeated at home against Santa Clara posting 3 wins and a 20-3 scoring edge over those games.
ABOUT PITTSBURGH: The Titans have faced Pittsburgh only once ever, a 3-0 win in 2002 in Poway, CA. The Panthers return sophomore outfielder Tori Nirschl who led the team in batting avg. (.333), runs (35), hits (52), triples (3) and home-runs (11). Junior pitcher Savannah King returns in the circle, posting a 9-16 record along with a 3.64 ERA and 96 strikeouts one year ago.
ABOUT GEORGE WASHINGTON: The Easton Tournament will mark the first ever meeting for the Titans against the Colonials. George Washington was able to set a new program record for wins (27) in 2013 as well as place six Colonials on the A-10 All-Conference teams. Junior shortstop Victoria Valos leads the team while setting single-season records in home runs, RBIs, runs scored and slugging percentage.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Fullerton finished third in the Big West race a season ago with a 13-11 mark in conference play to go along with a 28-28 overall record. The Titans return six position starters and three pitchers while welcoming 18 newcomers to the fold for the 2014 season. Leading the way for returners is senior catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama, an all-conference first-team selection who hit .323 to go along with 50 hits and 25 runs batted in. In the circle, sophomore Jasmine Antunez returns after earning the Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors a season ago, finishing 18-14 with a 2.58 ERA, 174 strikeouts and even a no-hitter on her resume vs. UNLV.
WE'RE HONORED: Cal State Fullerton placed Jasmine Antunez on the 2013 First-Team Big West honors as well as Big West Freshman of the Year. She was followed by a host of teammates on the second-team All-Conference in Ariel Tsuchiyama, Carissa Turang, Gabby Aragon & Eliza Crawford. All five of those all-conference honorees return for the 2014 campaign.
TRIPLIN' TITANS: The 2013 Titans led the Big West in triples with 14, Carissa Turang contributed an all-conference high of five over the season. Offensively, CSF also posted a .263 batting average while eclipsing the prior year totals in hits (378), doubles (58), and stolen bases (65) over the season.
REJUVENATED CIRCLE: Freshman Jasmine Antunez proved to be a key force for the Titans in the circle for the 2013 season being named Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year. Antunez posted 16 wins for the Titans, 11 of which were of the complete game variety accumulating 176 strikeouts over the season. Jasmine highlighted her season with a no-hitter against UNLV on April 20, 2013. Antunez pitched all 7 innings compiling 4 strikeouts leading the Titans to a 3-0 no-no over the Rebels. The Titans ERA improved to a respectable third place (3.00) in the Big West, a staggering improvement from the prior years (5.20) which was worst in the conference.
BIG WEST OUTLOOK: The Titans were picked to finish third in the Big West Conference in 2014 as selected by the eight head coaches in the annual preseason poll. Defending conference champion Hawai'i, collected four first place votes and 76 points overall and are favored to repeat after making a big splash in 2013 by capturing the crown in their return to the Big West after a 16 season hiatus. Runner-up in the polls was Long Beach State who garnered three first place votes and 55 overall. UC Santa Barbara was fourth in the polls with 40 points, while UC Davis rounded out the top five at 30 points.
NEWCOMERS: Although the 2014 Titans return dynamic seniors Jena Rubio, Leesa Harris, Gabby Aragon, Lauren Mario and Ariel Tsuchiyama, there are plenty of young talent on this season's roster. Coach Kelly Ford's team consists of eight freshmen, six of which are position players and the remaining two on the pitching staff. Freshmen Christina Washington is looking to have a promising season pitching in the circle, alongside now sophomore Jasmine Antunez who had similar expectations one year ago. Three Titans have transferred to the 2014 team, one being to watch is University of Washington transfer Missy Taukeiaho. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. native is looking to make an immediate impact to the offensive potency of the 2014 Titans.