Feb. 26, 2009
FULLERTON, CA - The Cal State Fullerton softball team (5-7 overall) will host the first of two regular season tournaments this weekend at Anderson Family Field, welcoming nine other teams to Southern California for the 2009 DeMarini Invitational. Play begins at 9 a.m. Friday morning (Feb. 27) on both diamonds on the Fullerton campus and continues through Sunday (March 1). The Titans are scheduled to play four games against California, Minnesota, Auburn, and Stanford.
IN THE POLLS: Pacific-10 conference powers Stanford and California are the only two teams in this year's tournament field ranked among the top 25... The Cardinal are ranked as high as \#5 in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll while the Golden Bears are ranked as high as \#7 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball... three teams (Nevada, Oregon State, and Auburn) are receiving votes in both the NFCA and USA Softball poll while Cal Poly is getting votes only in the NFCA poll.
I NEED STATS, STAT!: Barring technical difficulties (insert sound of knocking on wood here), Gametracker will be available for all four of Cal State Fullerton's games this week from Anderson Family Field. Links will be available on the softball schedule page of FullertonTitans.com and on the DeMarini Invitational tournament page that can be accessed from the softball page.
TOURNAMENT NUGGETS: This weekend's field enters the tournament with a combined 74-57 (.565) record this season... Stanford has the best record of any of the participants at 13-1... two other teams enter the weekend with double-digit wins already (California at 11-2 and Auburn at 14-2)... aside from tournament host Cal State Fullerton, only Stanford and Oregon State return from last year's field... the Cardinal finished in a tie for second with the Titans in the 2008 event with a 4-1 record while the Bearves were tied for ninth with a 1-4 mark.
TITANS' TOURNEY SUCCESS: Cal State Fullerton has hosted two regular season tournaments in every season dating back to 1998, with this first tournament being held under many monikers over the years. Since then, the Titans have performed very well in this event, posting a 40-18 (.690) record in the previous 11 events, with only one losing record (2-4 in 2004). Cal State Fullerton has won eight of its last 10 games in this tournament over the past two years and has even gone a perfect 6-0 in the 2002 event that jumpstarted a 32-game winning streak that season.
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN BEARS: California enters the tournament with an 11-2 mark following a 3-1 record at last weekend's Cathedral City Classic... the Golden Bears defeated Ole Miss (1-0), NC State (2-1), and Maryland (7-0) while falling to Kansas, 3-2... Jamia Reid leads the Golden Bears offensively with a .349 average to go with five home runs and 13 RBI while twin sister, Ella, is batting .343 with a home run and 12 RBI... Valerie Arioto (3-0, 0.95 ERA) and Marissa Drewrey (8-2, 1.75 ERA) have combined to pack a potent punch in the circle, holding opponents to a .180 average and striking out 114.
THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with California, 23-14... the Titans won the last meeting between the two schools, 1-0, in Las Vegas... the Golden Bears' last win in the series came in an 11-0 romp in 2004.
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN GOPHERS: Minnesota enters the weekend with an 8-8 overall record following a 4-1 showing at the Islander Invitational in Corpus Christi last weekend... Heidi Carls leads the Golden Gophers with a .279 average to go along with a team-best eight RBI... Briana Hassett, who tossed a no-hitter in a 4-1 win over Pittsburgh last weekend, is 8-3 overall in the circle with a 1.34 ERA... Alissa Koch (0-5, 6.51) has also seen time.
THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton has dominated the series with Minnesota, posting an 18-2 record in 20 all-time meetings... The Titans are 15-1 against the Golden Gophers at home, including a 4-0 win in 2007... Minnesota last posted a win in the series in 2003 with a 1-0 shutout that ended a string of six consecutive victories by Fullerton.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS: Auburn enters the weekend with a 14-2 overall record and had won 10 straight until falling to Purdue at its own War Eagle Classic... Myesha Finney leads the team, batting .371 with four home runs and 12 RBI - all tops on the squad... Jenee Loree (6-1, 1.01 ERA) and Anna Thompson (8-1, 1.05 ERA) have split time in the circle, holding opponents to a .172 average and striking out 159 batters combined.
THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton and Auburn have met only once on the diamond with the Titans posting a 4-3 victory in 10 innings during a tournament in Honolulu, HI, in 2001.
SCOUTING THE CARDINAL: Stanford enters the weekend with a 13-1 mark, having won its last 12 straight dating back to a 1-0 loss to Oklahoma State in the second game of the season... the Cardinal were perfect last week, going 4-0 at the Stanford Nike Invitational and then defeating Bay Area rival Saint Mary's, 6-0, in a mid-week contest on Tuesday (Feb. 24)... Alissa Haber leads Stanford offensively with a .532 average, helping the Cardinal to a .337 average as a team... Haber has also slugged eight doubles, three home runs, and has driven in 13... Rosey Neill, who is batting .317, is the team's leading power hitte with five home runs on the year.
THE SERIES: Stanford leads the all-time series against Cal State Fullerton, 13-6... the Titans won the last meeting between the two schools, 1-0, in 2007 behind a no-hitter from Candice Baker in Fullerton... Prior to that, the Cardinal won three straight in the series from 2004-06.
AN EMERGING ACE?: After throwing only 26.2 innings last season as a freshman, right-hander Ari Cervantes has shown that becoming the staff ace isn't far off. Cervantes, who threw just one complete game in 11 appearances a season ago, has already gone the distance in four games, posting her first career wins in the circle against NC State and Nebraska last weekend and struck out a career-high nine batters (just two shy of her entire 2008 total) against No. 3 UCLA on Wednesday. Cervantes leads the Titans with 26 strikeouts this season and entered the week holding opponents to just a .216 average - tops on the team and fifth-best in the Big West Conference.
A "HOL" LOTTA SHEILA: Junior infielder Sheila Holguin had a solid weekend at the plate in the Cathedral City Desert, batting .375 (6-for-16) with three runs scored, a pair of doubles, and an RBI in the Titans' five games. Holguin, who hist just .251 as a sophomore in 2008, is currently experiencing her finest offensive season, batting .282 with four extra base hits and six runs scored from the leadoff spot this season.
YOU'LL ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR FIRST: With two outs and a tie game poised on heading to extra innings, there was a lot of pressure on the shoulders of freshman Trina Harrison last weekend against NC State. However, the situation didn't seem to faze the rookie as Harrison's first career hit turned out to be a walk-off three-run home run, lifting the Titans to a 9-6 victory.
IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY: Following Harrison's dramatic game-ender, sophomore Torrie Anderson did her best to one-up her teammate just 24 hours later, slugging a three-run home run to erase a 2-0 deficit against Nebraska with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Titans defeated the Huskers, 4-2. It was Anderson's second game-winning hit of the season as her fielder's choice against Indiana in the season opener drove home Sheila Holguin with the eventual game-winning run in the Titans' 9-2 victory.
SHE HITS IT HIGH... SHE HITS IT DEEP... IT IS...: Fullerton's last three victories have all been decided by a home run as senior Courtney Martinez's solo shot against Virginia on Feb. 14 in Las Vegas helped lift the Titans to the 1-0 victory.
GOING-GOING-GONZALES: Junior Francesca Gonzales' two-run shot against No. 3 UCLA on Wednesday night was her fourth home run of the season, tying her for the Big West Conference lead alongside teammate Courtney Martinez. It's nothing new for the transfer from Mt. San Antonio College who slugged 23 career home runs en route to a pair of California JC All-America honors in her two seasons for the Mounties.
"WE NEED A LIVE ROO... WAS IT A LIVE ROOSTER?": The hex is certainly on the Titans' gloves in the field thus far in 2009 as they have committed 20 errors in their first 12 games compared to just nine miscues at this last a season ago. Fullerton, which was tied for third in the Big West with a .963 fielding percentage in 2008, ranks seventh out of eight teams at .946 entering this week's games.
TITANS PICKED SECOND IN THE BIG WEST: Cal State Fullerton was picked to finish second in the race for the 2009 Big West Conference title according to a vote of the league's head coaches released on Jan. 21. The Titans received 49 points behind defending champion Long Beach State, which garnered seven of the eight first-place votes and 63 points overall. UC Santa Barbara, which gained the remaining first-place vote, and Cal Poly were picked in a tie for third with 45 points followed by Pacific (28), UC Davis (26), Cal State Northridge (21), and UC Riverside (11).
A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Cal State Fullerton returns seven letter winners, four position starters and one pitcher from last season's squad which finished 27-28-1 overall and 11-10 in conference play, but earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the 24th time in 27 seasons. The Titans also welcome 10 newcomers to the fold - seven freshmen and a pair of transfers from nearby Mt. San Antonio College. Senior catcher Lauren Lupinetti is the team's top returning bat a season after hitting .282 with seven home runs and 33 RBI - the latter two statistics leading the team in 2008. Sophomore right-hander Ari Cervantes is the only returning pitcher for the Titans after she threw 26.2 innings and posted an 0-1 record in 11 appearances.
YOU'RE THE BEST... AROUND: Cal State Fullerton's young roster will be thrown directly into the fire during the 2009 season as the Titans' schedule features 10 teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA preseason top 25 and seven more teams listed among those receiving votes.
HELLO, MY NAME IS...: You can't tell the players without a scorecard and some fans may be asking them to wear name tags until they can get everyone straight. Fullerton's 10 newcomers are the most since the team listed 12 new faces on the roster prior to the 2005 campaign.