March 5, 2009
FULLERTON, CA -
BATTER UP!: Currently in the midst of the longest losing streak in the history of the program, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (5-11 overall) looks to rebound this weekend with a quartet of games in the Long Beach Invitational. The Titans will host two games of the tournament at Anderson Family Field, welcoming Syracuse on Friday night (March 6) at 6 p.m. and Iowa on Sunday (March 8) at 9 a.m. Fullerton will play two games against FIU and Longwood University on Saturday (March 7) at Mayfair Park in Lakewood, Calif., at 11 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., respectively.
WAS THAT A LEFT AT THE LIGHT?: Mayfair Park in Lakewood, Calif., is located at 5720 Clark Ave. in Lakewood, Calif. (zip code 90712). From the Cal State Fullerton campus, take the 91 freeway west and exit Bellflower. Turn left on Bellflower and travel for 1.1 miles (as the crow flies) before making a right on South St. After a half a mile, turn left on Clark Ave. and the park will be on your left.
IN THE POLLS: Iowa is the only team on the Titans' docket this weekend receiving national acclaim, as the Hawkeyes are receiving votes in both the USA Today/NFCA and the ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches polls... Cal State Fullerton, FIU, and Longwood are not listed this week.
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 and Mayfair Park. Links will be available on the softball schedule page of FullertonTitans.com.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? GOOD!: Both of Fullerton's games from Anderson Family Field this weekend will be broadcast live over the Internet at FullertonTitans.com. Mike Martinez will handle the play-by-play for both games against Syracuse and Iowa.
PEEK-A-BOO... I SEE YOU!: As it goes with the Internet audio stream above, live video will also be available for both of this weekend's home contests (on a subscription basis) by logging on to BigWest.org/TV and signing up.
SCOUTING THE ORANGE: Syracuse enters the weekend with a 9-4 record following a 4-1 mark at Central Florida's tournament in Orlando last weekend... the Orange have won two straight... freshman infielder Stephanie Watts leads all regulars offensively, batting .452 with four triples, four home runs, 10 RBI and 20 runs scored... Angie Sagnello is 3-0 in the circle without allowing a run in 13 innings this season... Brittany Gardner (3-2, 1.29 ERA), the reigning Big East Pitcher of the Week, and Jenna Caira (3-2, 3.00) have split the majority of time.
THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Syracuse, 2-1, winning the last two straight meetings... the two teams haven't met since 2006, a 3-2 win by the Titans in Arizona that followed a 2-0 win at home in 2005... the Orange's lone win in the series came in 2004 by the score of 6-3 in Arizona.
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN PANTHERS: FIU enters the weekend with a 10-10 overall record, having lost four straight... The Golden Panthers were swept in a Sun Belt Conference series with Western Kentucky last weekend by the scores of 6-0, 4-3, and 4-1... Freshman Jenny Welch leads the team offensively with a .327 average and 11 RBI... Kasey Barrett (4-2, 1.90) and Jennifer Gniadek (5-6, 2.24) share the workload in the circle while Ashley McClain (0-0, 1.20) and Paige Cassady (1-2, 3.71) have seen some action as well.
THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton has won the only meeting with FIU in the history of the two programs, posting a 4-3 win in San Diego in 2002.
SCOUTING THE LANCERS: Longwood University is an independent Division I school located in Farmville, Virginia, with an enrollment of just 4,500 students... The Lancers enter the weekend with a 6-4 overall record, winning two games at their own Lead Off Classic before rain ended the tournament early... Courtney Long leads the team offensively, batting .476 with a pair of doubles and four RBI to help Longwood to a .289 average as a team. Briana Wells (5-3, 2.40 ERA) has seen the majority of time in the circle for the Lancers.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the first-ever between the Titans and Lancers on the diamond.
SCOUTING THE HAWKEYES: Iowa enters the weekend with a 12-3 overall record having won its last six straight, all by shutout, and posting a perfect 5-0 at the K-Club Classic hosted by Kennesaw State in Georgia last weekend... Erin Riemersma leads Iowa offensively, batting .357 with a paif of home runs and leads four teammates batting better than .300 on the season... Garden Grove, Calif., native Brittany Weil leads the team in the circle, posting an 8-2 mark with a 0.67 ERA and 95 strikeouts... she is holding opponents to a .099 batting average this season.
THE SERIES: The series between the Titans and Hawkeyes is tied at 1-1, but the two teams haven't met on the diamond since 1995... Fullerton won the first meet in 1989 at home, 2-0, while Iowa was victorious in the last meeting, eliminating the Titans from the Women's College World Series with a 6-5, nine-inning win in Oklahoma City.
AND THEY'RE ON THE BOARD: Cal State Fullerton freshmen Krystal Heinle and Nicole Johnson became the latest Titan newcomers to notch their first career Division I hits this past weekend. Heinle singled back up the middle in her second career at bat against Minnesota to finish 1-for-3 and added another knock against Auburn the next day in a 1-for-2 outing at the plate. Johnson also found Gophers pitching to her liking as she killed two birds with one stone against Minnesota, logging her first career hit and extra base hit with a double down the left field line to lead-off the seventh inning.
NO MIDAS TOUCH: The Titans have struggled against the favorite teams of King Midas, going 0-2 against "golden" teams thus far this season. Fullerton fell to both the California Golden Bears (2-1) and Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-0) last weekend at the DeMarini Invitational and will look to snap that streak this weekend when they take on the Golden Panthers of FIU in Lakewood, Calif. Fullerton is 56-18 all-time against "golden" teams: 23-15 against California, 2-0 against the Canisius "Golden Griffins", 2-0 against the Tulsa "Golden Hurricane", 18-3 against Minnesota, and 1-0 against FIU.
NO POWER SHORTAGE HERE: Despite its struggles offensively, there has been no drop-off in the power numbers for the Titans' offense as it enters the week with 12 home runs on the season - tied for the top spot in the Big West Conference with UC Santa Barbara. Fullerton slugged two more long balls last week as junior Francesca Gonzales had a two-run shot against No. 3 UCLA and Torrie Anderson added a solo home run to spoil the shutout against Auburn. Gonzales and Courtney Martinez ranked tied for the league lead with four apiece while Anderson is tied for sixth with three.
PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER: Although the Fullerton starting lineup has been taking its hacks this season (to the tune of the Big West-worst 118 strikeouts this season), there have been glimmers of good plate discipline by the Titans, who rank third in the league with 43 walks thus far this season. All but two players have logged at least one walk this season while junior Francesca Gonzales and sophomore K.C. Craddick rank tied for fifth in the league with a team-best eight walks apiece.
THIS IS GONNA HURT... AGAIN: After leading the Big West Conference in 2008 with 53 hit by pitches as a team, the Titans look like they're on track to repeat as league champion in that category. Cal State Fullerton, which has led the league in HBPs in each of the last three years, leads the conference again with 16 hit by pitches this season (three more than second-place Cal State Northridge) and has had eight players been plunked at least once. Individually, freshman Nicole Johnson is second in the conference with four, while Lauren Lupinetti and Torrie Anderson rank tied for third with three apiece.
THE LONGEST DAY: Technically, it's lasted five days, but we're not going to be picky. Cal State Fullerton's seven-game losing skid is the longest in the 30-year history of the program, surpassing the previous worst of six straight defeats set four times in 1980, 1996, 1997, and 1998.
SLOW START: The Titans' 5-11 record marks the team's slowest start since they began the 2004 campaign with the same record through the first 16 games. Fullerton ended that season at 18-34 overall - the first-ever losing season in the history of the program.
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.
"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 24 errors in their first 16 games (second most in the Big West) compared to just 11 miscues at this time 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 .952 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.