Feb. 2, 2010
FULLERTON, CA - The Cal State Fullerton softball team was picked to finish third in a tight race for the 2010 Big West Conference title according to a vote of the league's head coaches released by the conference office on Tuesday.
The Titans received two first-place votes and finished with 50 points overall, just one point behind Long Beach State (one first-place vote, 51 points) in second and six points behind defending champion Cal Poly, which earned four first-place votes and 56 points overall.
UC Santa Barbara (43 points) rounds out the top four followed by Cal State Northridge (1 first-place vote, 28 points), UC Davis (25), Pacific (19), and UC Riverside (16).
Led by 11th year head coach Michelle Gromacki, Fullerton is coming off its 27th postseason appearance in the history of the program a season ago, finishing 30-21 overall and 17-4 in the Big West - just one game behind the Mustangs for second place. Four position starters, three starting pitchers, and 10 letter winners overall return for the Titans, who also welcome eight newcomers to the fold - including a pair of NFCA California JC All-Americans.
The pitching staff is led by junior right-hander Ari Cervantes, one of two 20-game winners in the circle last season in the Big West. A first-team All-Big West Conference selection as a sophomore, Cervantes finished 20-11 overall with a 2.23 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 225.2 innings.
Cervantes is joined in the circle by fellow right-hander Krystal Heinle, an all-conference honorable mention choice as a redshirt freshman in 2009 who finished 10-8 with a 2.82 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 121.2 innings.
Offensively, Fullerton loses three of its top four hitters from a year ago but returns the bat of junior outfielder Torrie Anderson, a first-team all-conference selection who hit .284 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI while scoring 28 runs herself. Sophomore outfielder Trina Harrison (six home runs, 20 RBI) also returns to help pace the offense.
First-pitch of the 2010 season will be thrown on Friday (Feb. 12) in Phoenix, Ariz., as the Titans head to the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State. Cal State Fullerton, which opens the year receiving votes in the preseason USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll, will play a five-game slate beginning with Kentucky and No. 15 Northwestern on Friday, followed by Southern Utah and Wisconsin on Saturday (Feb. 13), and a Valentine's Day finale against No. 6 Arizona on Sunday (Feb. 14).
The Titans' schedule features 13 teams ranked in the preseason USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and nine more squads that are receiving votes.
2010 BIG WEST CONFERENCE PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Cal Poly (4) - 56
2. Long Beach State (1) - 51
3. Cal State Fullerton (2) - 50
4. UC Santa Barbara - 43
5. Cal State Northridge (1) - 28
6. UC Davis - 25
7. Pacific - 19
8. UC Riverside - 16