Feb. 14, 2008
FULLERTON, CA - After a successful showing during its season opening weekend, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (3-1 overall) faces its first stiff test of the 2008 season deep in the heart of Texas as the Titans travel to Austin as one of four teams at the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational.
The three-day affair is threatened by rain and after a schedule revision the tourney will now open on Friday (Feb. 15) with Cal State Fullerton taking on 2005 NCAA National Champion Michigan at 10 a.m. CST and follows with the Titans locking horns with Penn State at 2 p.m. CST. The balance of the tourney schedule will be contingent upon the weather.
IN THE POLLS: Thanks to its solid opening weekend, Cal State Fullerton made a jump in both the USA Today/NFCA and the ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches polls entering this week's play... The Titans moved up four spots to No. 17 in the NFCA poll and four spots to No. 20 in the USA Softball poll... Michigan is the unanimous No. 12-ranked team in the country... Texas is No. 24 according to the NFCA and is receiving votes in the USA Softball poll... Penn State is unranked this week.
DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS: For those who can't make the trip to Austin, the University of Texas will be providing live stats for all of this weekend's games on its website at TexasSports.com. Links for Fullerton's games will also be available on the Titans' website at FullertonTitans.com.
SERIES RECORDS: Cal State Fullerton is 5-2 all-time against Michigan, but the two teams haven't met since 2005 - a 3-2 loss to the then-No. 5 ranked Wolverines at home...prior to that, the two schools hadn't met since a 7-3 win by the Titans in San Diego during the 1996 season... Fullerton leads the all-time series with Texas by a 7-3 count and is 2-0 against the Longhorns in Austin... Texas posted a 4-1 win last season in Fullerton to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Titans... Cal State Fullerton is 2-1 all-time against Penn State, falling 6-5 in nine innings at the Judi Garman Classic last season... Fullerton posted an 8-0 win in six innings over the Nittany Lions at the 2003 NCAA Regionals and a 1-0 win in 10 innings back in 1991.
SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES: Michigan enters the weekend with a 4-1 overall record, winning its last three straight at the Florida Atlantic Kick-Off Classic in Boca Raton, Fla... The Wolverines posted wins over Massachusetts (1-0), South Carolina (3-2), host FAU (5-2), and Maryland (5-2)... Michigan is hitting just .230 as a team, but is led by a pitching staff that has allowed only eight runs through five games (0.46 ERA)... Nikki Nemitz is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in three starts, striking out 19 and holding opponents to a .173 average... Jordan Taylor is 1-1 without allowing an earned run, striking out 17 in 19 innings and holding the opposition to a .213 average... Molly Bausher leads the Wolverines with a .471 average while Teddi Ewing (.364) is the only other player hitting better than .300 thus far this year.
SCOUTING THE LONGHORNS: Texas enters the weekend after winning two-of-three in a series with Texas-San Antonio, splitting a doubleheader on Saturday (3-1, 2-3) before winning the series with a 10-2 triumph on Sunday... The Longhorns will host Texas State on Wednesday (Feb. 13) before opening tournament play... Texas is hitting .392 as a team with six players hitting better than .400, led by Shelby Savony, who is batting .600 with a home run and three RBI... Meagan Denny leads the pitching staff, posting a 2-0 record last week with a 1.91 ERA and 26 strikeouts to only four walks in 11 innings of work... Opponents are hitting just .183 against the Longhorns' pitching staff thus far this season.
SCOUTING THE NITTANY LIONS: Penn State will open its 2008 season this weekend in Austin... the Nittany Lions are led by 12th year head coach Robin Petrini, who is 316-251-1 in 11 years at the helm... PSU returns six position starters and a pair of pitchers off of last season's squad that finished 26-25 overall and 5-9 in the Big Ten Conference... junior outfielder Danielle Kinley leads the returning offense after earning second-team All-America honors in 2007, hitting .375 with three home runs and 31 RBI... senior right-hander Ashley Esparza, a three-time All-Big Ten selection, is a dual threat in the circle (12-13, 2.14 ERA, 166 K's) and at the plate (.333-7-21) while senior right-hander Jenn Reynolds also saw significant time in the circle last season, going 13-11 with a 3.46 ERA and 100 strikeouts.
AT LAST WE MEET AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME: Friday night's meeting with Texas will be a reunion of former Titan champions as Longhorns' Head Coach Connie Clark, Broderick Award-winning pitcher on Cal State Fullerton's 1986 NCAA National Championship team, matches managerial wits with her catcher on that national title team in Titans' Head Coach Michelle Gromacki. The two have met on the field as head coaches nine times since 2000 with Gromacki holding a 7-2 edge.
WHEELER NAMED BIG WEST PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cal State Fullerton senior outfielder Jenna Wheeler was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Monday afternoon following a huge opening weekend at the plate for the Titans. Wheeler hit a team-best .583 on the weekend, including multiple hits in each of the team's last three games on the weekend. She also scored four runs and drove home three - including a pair in a huge second inning to help Fullerton to an upset of No. 5 Oklahoma. Wheeler also led the team in slugging (.667) and on base percentage (.583) on the weekend.
IMPRESSIVE: There aren't very many better ways to open your collegiate career than against a nationally-ranked top-five team in front of your hometown fans, but that's exactly what freshman right-hander Christine Hiner got this past weekend at Anderson Family Field - and she did not disappoint. Hiner held No. 5 Oklahoma to just three hits and carried a shutout into the fifth in helping the Titans to the 10-2 win in five innings. However, her impressive weekend didn't end there as Hiner followed that performance up by holding Santa Clara to only an infield single while striking out six, picking up her first career shutout with a 7-0 win over the Broncos.
UPSET: Cal State Fullerton's win over No. 5 Oklahoma marked the highest-ranked opponent that the Titans have defeated since they handed No. 3-ranked UCLA a 4-3 loss on Feb. 5, 2005.
OUT OF THE BLOCKS: Four games played and four early advantages for the Fullerton offense as the Titans have jumped out to early leads in each of their games thus far this season. Through the first four innings combined, Fullerton has outscored its opposition by a combined count of 24-0 and has outscored opponents 28-10 overall thus far this season.
OFFENSE OFF TO A GOOD START: The bats came alive in a big way for the Titans in their opening weekend of play, hitting a combined .380 in four games helped in part by seven regulars hitting better than .360 last weekend. Fullerton reached double digits in hits twice - including a season-best 13 against Santa Clara on Feb. 10 - and outhit opponents 41-14.
EXTRA! EXTRA! RUN ALL AROUND IT: Of Fullerton's 41 hits on the weekend, 15 of those went for extra bases - 12 of those doubles. Jessica Doucette and Katie Gollhardt each finished with three doubles on the weekend while Courtney Martinez and Ari Cervantes each logged triples.
FROSH FIRSTS: Freshmen Ari Cervantes (vs. Santa Clara) and Torrie Anderson (vs. Nevada) each logged their first career hits on the weekend while each drove in a pair of runs against No. 5 Oklahoma during a huge 10-run second inning. Cervantes also made her first career start in the circle versus the Wolf Pack, allowing three runs on three hits in four innings while earning a no decision.
NO HITS FOR YOU: Fullerton's pitching staff held the opposition to a .157 batting average in four games this past weekend while the defense was stellar, making only one error in 115 chances (.991 fielding percentage).
WELL THAT'S NEW: Senior infielder Katie Gollhardt has started all 173 games she has appeared in as a Titan - and in 170 of those games, she has been a rock at first base. This past weekend, fans got a new look at the Fullerton defense - one that now has Gollhardt starting across the diamond at third base and Jessica Doucette also moving across the diamond to first when she's not pitching. Gollhardt last played a different position as a sophomore in 2006, starting three games in right field near the end of the regular season.