Feb. 7, 2008
FULLERTON, CA - The No. 21/24 Cal State Fullerton softball team opens its 29th season of play this weekend, hosting a trio of teams at Anderson Family Field. Six games will be played over the course of three days beginning on Friday night (Feb. 8) as the Titans open against Santa Clara at 6 p.m. On Saturday (Feb. 9), Nevada and No. 5 Oklahoma hook-up at 10 a.m. before both teams take on the Titans at 12:30 and 3 p.m., respectively. Play concludes on Sunday (Feb. 10) as Nevada and Santa Clara meet at 10 a.m. following by the Tians and the Broncos at 12:30 p.m.
MEANWHILE... AT EASTON STADIUM: All three of this weekend's opponents will also compete across the Los Angeles basin, joining UCLA and UC Santa Barbara at Easton Stadium in Westwood. A schedule of those games can be found at www.UCLABruins.com.
IN THE POLLS: Fullerton opens the season ranked No. 21 in the nation according to the NFCA and tied for No. 24 with Texas in the USA Softball coaches poll... Oklahoma is the unanimous No. 5 team in the nation according to both polls... Santa Clara and Nevada are unranked.
MORE ON THE RANKINGS: The Titans are ranked in the preseason polls for the first time since 2004 following a season that saw them post a 41-15 overall record and a 20-1 mark in league play en route to their 22nd postseasn appearance.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?: All four of this weekend's games will be broadcast live over the Internet with Mike Martinez handling the play-by-play at FullertonTitans.com. Log on to the website and click the logo with the microphone on the right-hand side of the page to access the links. Gametracker live stats will also be available for all four games.
WATCH FOR FREE: Fullerton's games against Santa Clara on Friday and Sunday and Saturday's contest against Nevada will be streamed live over the Internet at www.BigWest.tv as part of a free softball preview weekend. Log on to the Big West Conference's website and sign up to catch all the action.
SERIES RECORDS: Fullerton is 2-0 all-time against Santa Clara after posting victories by the scores of 7-4 and 6-0 back in 1999... The Titans are 2-0 against Nevada, including a 4-1 win at Fullerton's Worth Invitational last season... Fullerton leads the all-time series with Oklahoma by a 7-3 count, including a 4-1 mark at home... the two teams haven't met since the Sooners posted a 3-0 win at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in 2003.
SCOUTING THE BRONCOS: Under the direction of first-year head coach Lisa Mize, Santa Clara returns five starters off of last season's squad that finished 12-47 overall and 5-15 in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference. Jackie Morales is the team's leading returning hitter at .232 with a home run and 17 RBI while going 7-13 with a 4.22 ERA and 84 strikeouts in the circle. Jerrica Castagno also saw a lot of time in the circle, going 4-16 with a 3.65 ERA and 71 strikeouts.
SCOUTING THE WOLF PACK: Nevada returns the bulk of its squad from the 2007 season as sixth-year head coach Michelle Gardner has 15 letter winners, eight starters, and a pair of pitchers to work with in 2008. The Wolf Pack (28-31 overall, 9-9 in the Western Athletic Conference) are led in the circle by preseason conference pitcher of the year Jordan McPherson, who went 17-16 with a 2.66 ERA a year ago, and all five hitters who batted better than .300 last season. Tyler Schafer hit a team-high .341 while Brittany Puzey returns as the big bat after slugging 13 home runs and driving in 52 runs.
SCOUTING THE SOONERS: The Sooners return seven starters and three All-Americans from last year's squad that finished 55-8 under the direction of Head Coach Patty Gasso, who is entering her 14th season at the helm. Junior Samantha Ricketts returns to pace the offense after hitting .415 with 18 home runs and 81 RBI while senior right-hander Lauren Eckermann paces OU in the circle after going 37-5 with a 1.66 ERA and 259 strikeouts in 2007.
TITANS PICKED SECOND IN BIG WEST: The Cal State Fullerton softball team was picked to finish second in the Big West Conference according to a vote of the league's coaches. The Titans, who received 55 points overall, were edged out of the top spot by defending league champion Cal Poly (56 points) despite receiving three first place votes to the Mustangs' two. Long Beach State was picked third with 52 points in a tightly-contested race for the preseason No. 1 spot and matched Cal Poly with two first-place votes. Pacific was fourth with 33 points followed by Cal State Northridge with 32 points (and one first-place vote), UC Davis with 28 points, UC Santa Barbara with 20 points, and UC Riverside with 12 points.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Cal State Fullerton returns nine letter winners and seven position starters from last year's team that finished 38-23 overall and 13-5 in the Big West Conference for second place. The Titans travelled to Columbus, Ohio, for postseason play and worked their way out of the losers bracket to upset host Ohio State on its home field and clinch their first regional win since 1995. Fullerton then became the first Big West school to advance to the NCAA Super Regional round, where eventual national champion and No. 4-ranked Arizona ended the Titans' postseason run. Cal State Fullerton welcomes seven newcomers to the field in 2008 - all freshmen.
FIRST LOOK: Cal State Fullerton softball fans will be able to get their first look at the 2008 Titans squad this weekend - the first time since 2002 that they will open the season on their home field.
THE BEST AROUND: The Titans are scheduled to meet 12 teams ranked in the preseason top 25 polls in 2008 - including seven of the top 10 in the USA Softball poll and up to five more schools that are receiving votes.
FOR OPENERS: The Titans are 21-7 all-time in season-openers, including an 8-4 mark at home. However, Fullerton has lost its last three games when opening the season at home dating back to a 12-0 shutout of Cal Poly in 1994 and is just 6-4 overall in its last 10 openers.
NUMBERS ARE FUN: Cal State Fullerton's group of returners hit just .255 a season ago, but the offense brings back 71 percent of the team's runs scored, 87 percent of the extra-base hit numbers (doubles and triples), 78 percent of the team's home runs, and 80 percent of the squad's RBI total.