Titans Roll the Dice at UNLV's Desert Classic

Titans Roll the Dice at UNLV's Desert Classic

Feb. 17, 2010


FIRST PITCH: Another week, another trip to a desert locale as the Cal State Fullerton softball team looks to improve on its showing at last weekend's trip to Tempe with a five-game schedule this weekend at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic hosted by UNLV from Feb. 19-21. Tournament games actually begin on Thursday (Feb. 18), but the Titans won't open play until Friday morning as they take on opponents from the Pac-10, Big 12, Mountain West, and Western Athletic Conference.

LOUISVILLE SLUGGER DESERT CLASSIC SCHEDULE: The Titans' five-game schedule breaks down as follows. Four of the team's five games will be played at Stephanie Lynn Craig Park at the corner of Russell Rd. and Galleria Dr. in nearby Henderson, NV, while Fullerton's game against Utah on Saturday will be played at Eller Media Stadium near campus at the corner of Swenson St. and Harmon Ave. A complete schedule, directions to the complex, and map is available on the UNLV softball page at www.UNLVRebels.com.

Friday, Feb. 19 vs. Oregon - 11:15 a.m. (SLC Field 3)
Friday, Feb. 19 vs. Oklahoma - 1:30 p.m. (SLC Field 3)
Saturday, Feb. 20 vs. Utah - 9 a.m. (UNLV's Eller Media Stadium)
Saturday, Feb. 20 vs. BYU - 1:30 p.m. (SLC Field 3)
Sunday, Feb. 21 vs. Hawaii - 11:15 a.m. (SLC Field 2)

IN THE POLLS: Cal State Fullerton is not listed in either the USA Today/NFCA nor the ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches polls this week... Oklahoma is the highest-ranked opponent for the Titans this weekend, ranked No. 13 by the NFCA and No. 12 by USA Softball... BYU is receiving votes in both polls while Hawaii is gaining votes in the NFCA poll... Oregon and Utah are not listed in either poll.

I NEED STATS, STAT!: For those unable to make the trip to the desert, selected tournament games from Las Vegas will be available via CBS College Sports' Gametracker interface depending on reliable internet connections. Check the schedule page at FullertonTitans.com for the links.

ABOUT OREGON: The Ducks enter the tournament after posting a 4-2 mark at the Kajikawa Classic last weekend in Tempe... Oregon has wins over Notre Dame, Creighton, Western Michigan and Cal State Northridge while falling to San Diego State and Texas Tech... the Ducks are hitting .283 as a team bolstered by four regulars hitting better than .300 on the year... Sam Pappas leads the way, batting .389 with four runs and three RBI... Brittany Rumfeldt is perfect in the circle, posting a 2-0 mark without allowing an earned run, striking out 11 in nine innings.

ABOUT OKLAHOMA: The Sooners enter the week with a 2-1 mark after a rain-shortened National Collegiate Softball Invitational in Florida last weekend and will meet St. Gregory's, the 2009 NAIA National Runner-Up, on Wednesday before heading to Las Vegas where they open against Cal State Fullerton... Oklahoma opened with wins over Florida Atlantic and Chattanooga while falling to Tennessee after games against Michigan and Central Florida were rained out... Chanae Jones and Haley Nix lead the team offensively, batting .571 through the first three games of the year... Jessica Shults leads the team with a home run and six RBI... Keilani Ricketts started all three games in the circle, posting a 2-1 mark with a 2.27 ERA and 18 strikeouts to only two walks in 12 1/3 innings.

ABOUT UTAH: The Utes enter the weekend with a 5-0 record after sharing the title at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, UT, last weekend... Utah posted wins over San Jose State, Northern Colorado, Idaho State, Seattle, and Tulsa... Kara Foster leads the team on offense, batting .615 (8-for-13) with six runs, a pair of home runs, and five RBI... Tia Palauni is second on the team in average (.538), but has slugged three home runs and driven in 11 on the year thus far... Ashley Smuda started all five games in the circle, posting a 0.93 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 30 innings, holding opponents to a .176 average.

ABOUT BYU: The Cougars are 5-0 to start the year after sharing the title at the Red Desert Classic with Utah last weekend... BYU posted wins over San Jose State, Seattle, UC Santa Barbara, Maine, and Tulsa... the Cougars have slugged 12 home runs on the season, led by Andrea Ramirez's three while three other players have two apiece... Alexandra Hudson leads the team with a .600 average to go with three runs and four RBI... Angeline Quicho and Delaney Willard lead the team with eight RBI each... Paige Affleck (3-0, 3.44 ERA) and Christie Zinanti (2-0, 3.86) have combined to record all the Cougars' wins this season... opponents are hitting just .237 against BYU's pitching staff thus far this season.

ABOUT HAWAII: The Rainbow Wahine enter the week with a 3-2 overall record, claiming the championship of their own Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic last weekend with an 11-5 win over Stanford... Hawaii has also posted wins over Texas A&M-Corpus Cristi and McNeese State... eight players have combined to slug 10 home runs already this season, while Katie Grimes (who has two of those) has driven in eight... Alexandra Aguirre (.500), Amanda Tauali'I (.462) and Grimes (.400) are the team's top hitters... Kaia Parnaby is 1-0 and has allowed two unearned runs in two starts in the circle this season, striking out 18 and holding opponents to a .152 average... Stephanie Ricketts is 1-2 with a 2.00 ERA, striking out 10 in 21 innings.

SERIES RECORDS: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Oregon, 13-5, including posting a 6-5 come-from-behind win against the Ducks last season in this very same tournament... the Titans are 9-3 against Oklahoma, defeating the nationally ranked Sooners, 4-3, at last season's Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton... Fullerton is 12-10 all-time against Utah, but has lost the last two to the Utes, including a 6-4 defeat in Las Vegas last season... the Titans are 0-1 against BYU, falling in the only meeting between the two schools by a 5-2 score in the 2006 edition of this tournament... Fullerton is 46-9 against Hawaii in the history of the series, but the two schools have not met since 2007 at this tournament - a 3-2 win for the Titans.

VEGAS, BABY! VEGAS!: Cal State Fullerton will be competing in the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic for the fourth time in the last five years and will look to improve on last year's showing when the Titans were just 2-3 with wins over Oregon and Virginia. Fullerton is 22-12 all-time in tournaments hosted by UNLV: 2-3 in 2009, 3-2 in 2007, 3-2 in 2006, 4-1 in 2003, 4-2 in 1992, and 6-2 in 1986.

IN THE SILVER STATE: Including the aforementioned tournament games, the Titans are 37-23-1 all-time in games held in the state of Nevada, posting a 15-11-1 record against former conference rival UNLV.

MILESTONES ON THE HORIZON: With 18 more wins this season, Cal State Fullerton will be the first school in league history to compile 1,000 victories as a member of the league... the Titans are also 18 wins short of 1,300 all-time in school history, entering this weekend with a 1,282-587-5 (.685) all-time record in the history of the program.

ONE OF THE BEST, EVAH!!!: Fullerton's 1,280 wins entering the season positioned the Titans as one of the winningest programs in the history of the NCAA, ranking fourth behind only UCLA (1,471), Texas A&M (1,329), and Florida State (1,308). Fullerton enters the year as one of only 15 programs in the country with more than 1,000 victories. Our thanks to Bonnie Senappe at the NCAA for compiling the list.

GROMACKI CLOSING IN ON ANOTHER: Last season, head coach Michelle Gromacki became just the fourth coach in Big West Conference history to win 350 games and 150 conference contests during a career. In 2010, the Titans' 11th-year head coach has her eyes set on yet another milestone, needing just 31 more victories to log her 400th career coaching victory. Gromacki currently carries a 369-211-1 (.636) all-time record in over 10 years at the helm of the Fullerton program.

NEWCOMERS MAKE THEIR MARK: Four of Fullerton's newcomers had successful debuts at the plate this past weekend in Arizona as junior transfer Natalie DeLeese and freshmen Ashley Carter, Gabby Aragon, and Ariel Tsuchiyama all tallied their first career hits at the Division I level. Aragon had two hits in the Titans' win over Southern Utah while DeLeese had hits in each of Fullerton's wins against Southern Utah and Wisconsin. Carter tallied her first career hit in the five-inning win over the Thunderbirds while Tsuchiyama had one of the team's three hits against No. 6 Arizona. Sophomore transfer Chloe Valenzuela also made her debut in the opener against Kentucky, making her first career start at shortstop.

WELCOME!: Freshman Aly Fascetti made a splash in her Division I debut last weekend in the desert, allowing just four hits and two unearned runs while striking out three in 5 2/3 innings of work in Fullerton's first three games of the tournament against Kentucky, No. 15 Northwestern, and Southern Utah before getting roughed up a bit in relief against No. 6 Arizona. Fascetti earned her first career start against the Thunderbirds, allowing just two hits in two innings of work in Fullerton's 14-1 win.

WELCOME BACK!: After appearing in just three games before undergoing arm surgery last season, redshirt freshman Katey Laban made her return to the circle this past weekend, earning the win in the Titans' 14-1 victory over Southern Utah, allowing just one run on two hits in three innings of relief. It was her first appearance in the circle since Feb. 15 of last season when she earned the start against nationally ranked Northwestern.

HIGH ON HEINLE: Redshirt sophomore Krystal Heinle picked up right where she left off last season when she won five of her final seven decisions en route to All-Big West Honorable Mention honors. Heinle made three starts in Arizona, posting a 1-2 record and a 3.50 ERA, but baffled opposing bats in the process, striking out 21 batters to only five walks in 16 innings, holding the opposition to a .242 average (15-for-62). She struck out 10 batters in a complete-game four-hitter against Wisconsin and added nine more strikeouts against No. 15 Northwestern. The 10 K's were just one shy of her career high of 11 set in a win over Bowling Green on March 13 last season and the 21 strikeouts are almost a quarter of her entire 2009 season total (92).

QUITE A START: Sophomore Nicole Johnson hit just .200 at the plate in her rookie season, but if last week's performance in Arizona was any indication, the Canyon Country native is poised for a big second season with the Titans. Johnson led the Titans with a .429 average in five games, going 6-for-14 with a pair of runs scored, her first career triple, and an RBI, slugging .571 on the weekend with a stolen base to boot. After going hitless in the openers, Johnson found her stroke against Southern Utah, finishing 3-for-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI while following that up with a 2-for-3 night against Wisconsin. Against Arizona, Johnson was 1-for-1 with a first-inning single before leaving in the fourth due to injury.

A WHOLE LOTTA HOLGUIN: Senior Sheila Holguin had herself a big day against Southern Utah last week, going a career-best 4-for-4 with two runs scored and a pair of RBI in the Titans' victory. One of only two seniors on the roster for the 2010 season, Holguin was second on the team with a .417 average for the weekend which included a pair of walks. Oh, by the way, all of this while making her first career defensive starts at third base after 41 career starts at second and 47 starts in the outfield.

RETURN OF THE LONG BALL: Cal State Fullerton's Torrie Anderson and Trina Harrison are bringing the long ball back to the Titans' lineup after combining to slug 17 of the team's 46 home runs a season ago. Anderson, who led the team with 11 round-trippers as a sophomore in 2009, led-off the Titans' victory over Southern Utah with a solo shot while Harrison went over the wall twice with solo home runs against Wisconsin and No. 6 Arizona. Anderson's home run gave her 15 for her career - just six shy of breaking into the school's all-time top 10. Jodie Cox (2000-03) currently stands 10th on the list with 21 career home runs during her stellar All-American career.

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. 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).

A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Cal State Fullerton is coming off its 27th postseason appearance in its 30-year history as the Titans finished 30-21 overall and 17-4 in Big West Conference play for second place. Fullerton advanced to the Tempe Regional hosted by defending national champion Arizona State where the Titans sandwiched an 8-2 win over San Diego State in between losses to nationally ranked LSU (3-2) and the host Sun Devils (7-0). Four position starters, three pitchers, and 10 letter winners overall return to the fold for Fullerton, which also welcomes eight newcomers to the roster - including a pair of NFCA California JC All-Americans.

GROMACKI PREVIEWS 2010 SEASON: Cal State Fullerton 11th year head coach Michelle Gromacki sat down in front of the camera with the sports information staff and team photographer Matt Brown to discuss her thoughts on the upcoming campaign. Shot in rich and vivid high definition, the complete interview is now available for free on FullertonTitansTV on Vimeo.com. To see the complete interview, log on to vimeo.com/fullertontitans.

YOU'RE THE BEST... AROUND: Head Coach Michelle Gromacki's long-held mantra of "to be the best, you have to play the best" will hold true once again in 2010 as the Titans' schedule features 13 teams ranked in the preseason USA Today/NFCA top 25 and nine more squads that are receiving votes.

SWIMMING IN THE DEEP END: While still a relatively young team, the Titans' depth for the 2010 campaign will be the envy of many squads around the country. Cal State Fullerton's roster lists 21 players for the upcoming season - the largest roster in the history of the program dating back to its inception in 1980. The Titans have carried 20 players three other times (1987, 1991, 1998) and have had no fewer than 15 players twice (1983 and 2003).

RUNNING CIRCLES: Cal State Fullerton should be "well-armed" for the 2010 season as the Titans return three starting pitchers and welcome a freshman arm to the circle for the upcoming campaign. Junior Ari Cervantes heads the list after earning All-Big West honors last season while posting a 20-11 overall record and a 2.23 ERA after appearing in only 11 games (three starts) as a freshman. She is joined in the circle by redshirt sophomore Krystal Heinle, who was an honorable mention all-conference selection after finishing 10-8 with a 2.82 ERA. Redshirt freshman Katey Laban returns for another stab at a rookie season after injuring her arm after just three appearances while true freshman Aly Fascetti adds depth after posting a 16-2 mark and a 0.56 ERA as a senior at Vista Murrieta HS.

TORRIE, TORRIE, TORRIE: Despite losing three of its top four bats from a season ago, Fullerton returns a great deal of pop from the lead-off spot with the bat of junior Torrie Anderson. The Castaic, Calif., native was a first-team All-Big West selection as a sophomore after batting .284 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI while scoring 28 runs. It was a breakout year for Anderson, who hit only .240 with three home runs and 19 RBI as a freshman in 2008.

TITANS PACK SOME POP: Fullerton's 46 home runs last season ended the season as the best in the Big West Conference and ranked seventh on the school's all-time list - the most since the Titans slugged 50 round-trippers in 2007. Most of that punch returns for the 2010 campaign as Fullerton brings back over half of that total in the form of Torrie Anderson (11), Trina Harrison (6), Morgan LeMond (4), Nicole Johnson (2), and Ari Cervantes (1). The Titans hit multiple home runs in a game 10 times last season, including a school-record five bombs against San Diego State on May 16 in an NCAA Regional contest in Tempe.


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