Softball Stays Local for Long Beach Invite

March 8, 2012

FULLERTON, CA -

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THIS WEEK...
Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State Invitational
Friday-Sunday, March 9-11, 2012
Fullerton, Calif. | Long Beach, Calif. | Lakewood, Calif.

Game Coverage:
March 9 vs. Michigan State: Gametracker | Audio
March 9 vs. Charleston Southern: Gametracker | Audio
March 10 vs. UNLV (Long Beach, Calif.): Gametracker
March 11 vs. Utah State (Lakewood, Calif.): Gametracker

BATTER UP!: Four games in three days at three different Southern California locales is what's next for the Cal State Fullerton softball team as the Titans (9-13 overall) stay local this weekend to participate in the 12-team Long Beach State Invitational hosted by Big West Conference rival Long Beach State. Fullerton opens the tournament at home by hosting three games on Friday (March 9) beginning at 3 p.m. as Michigan State and Charleston Southern face one another before both take on the Titans at approximately 5 and 7 p.m. later that day. Fullerton then meets UNLV on Saturday (March 10) at 3 p.m. at the 49ers Softball Complex in Long Beach before closing out the tournament on Sunday (March 11) at 11:15 a.m. against Utah State at Mayfair Park in Lakewood, Calif.

IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor its opponents are listed among the national polls entering this weekend's contests.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Mayfair Park is located at 5720 Clark Ave., in Lakewood between Candlewood and South St.

NEW LOOK BIG WEST: The Big West Conference Board of Directors announced on Dec. 12, 2011, that San Diego State will return as the conference's 11th member effective July 1, 2013. The Aztecs, whose women's teams were members of the league from 1985-90, were an original member of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association from 1969-78, and will join Hawaii as the league's "newest" members. The Warriors, whose women's programs were part of the Big West from 1984-96, were introduced as the 10th member of the league on Dec. 10, 2010, and will officially compete as a member of the Big West in July of 2012.

BE A FOLLOWER: Fans can keep up with the latest in Titans athletics by following us on Facebook (CSUF.Athletics), Twitter (@FullertonTitans) and Vimeo.com (vimeo.com/fullertontitans).

I NEED STATS, STAT!: Live stats via CBS College Sports' Gametracker interface will be available (barring technical difficulties) for all of Cal State Fullerton's games this week. Links to live stats for this weekend's tournament games will be posted on the tournament page as they become available.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? GOOD!: Thanks to a partnership with Arizona-based Stretch Internet, select Cal State Fullerton softball contests will be broadcast live over the Internet at FullertonTitans.com. To access the links, click on the headphones icon in the upper right-hand corner of FullertonTitans.com.

CAN YOU SEE ME NOW? EVEN BETTER!: For the seventh consecutive season, live streaming video for select Cal State Fullerton softball contests will be available (on a subscription basis) live over the Internet courtesy the Big West TV platform. For a monthly subscription of \$9.95 or an annual subscription of \$79.95, fans can catch all the exclusive action from the comfort of their home computers. For more information, please visit www.BigWest.org/TV or access the video player at www.fansonly.com/schools/bigw/allaccess/index.html.

LOOKING AHEAD: After this weekend's tournament, Cal State Fullerton will welcome a star-studded field for the 2012 Judi Garman Classic at Anderson Family Field beginning on Wednesday (March 14) and running through Sunday (March 18). A complete schedule for the tournament is available here: http://www.fullertontitans.com/sports/w-softbl/2012-judi-garman-classic.html.

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans enter the tournament with a 5-12 overall record after finishing 1-3 at the DeMarini Invitational last weekend and posting a 15-6 win over UC Riverside in five innings on Tuesday... Michigan State faces UCLA on Wednesday before returning to Fullerton for two games on Friday... Kylene Hopkins leads all regulars with a .342 average while Mary Kate DiVirgilio and Sarah Bowling have each driven in eight runs to pace the team... Carly Nielsen (2-5, 4.34) and Cassie Layne (2-3, 9.51) have seen the majority of time in the circle.

ABOUT CHARLESTON SOUTHERN: The Buccaneers enter the weekend with a 10-7 overall record, having lost three-straight since winning five-in-a-row, including a 2-0 win over South Carolina... Linzy Rother leads the team with a .407 average while Jana Matthews (.328) has homered twice and driven in a team-best 15 runs... Morgan Dowdy is the ace of the staff, posting a 6-3 record with a 1.66 ERA, holding opponents to a .244 average this season... Opponents overall are hitting just .256 against CSU this season.

ABOUT UNLV: The Rebels enter the tournament at 9-10 overall and will face North Carolina, Eastern Kentucky, and Pittsburgh before meeting the Titans... UNLV has lost its last three contests to Florida Atlantic, Illinois, and Seton Hall... Paige Emerson leads all players with a .400 average to go with eight extra base hits and 12 runs scored... Six of Pauline Monreal's 10 hits this season have left the yard, driving home a team-best 13 runs... Amanda Oliveto (6-5, 2.01) has pitched the majority of innings this season, striking out 56 and holding opponents to a .208 average.

ABOUT UTAH STATE: The Aggies enter the tournament at 8-8 overall after going 3-2 at the San Diego Classic last weekend with wins over Long Beach State, Cal Poly, and St. Joseph's... Utah State will also face Pittsburgh, North Carolina, and Michigan State before taking on Cal State Fullerton... Kelley Kaneshiro leads the team with a .440 average, scoring six times and driving home seven... Lindsey Marquez has driven home a team-high 10 runs... Shelby Tyteca (4-3, 3.50) and Mandy Harmon (3-4, 4.88) have split the majority of time in the circle for the Aggies.

SERIES HISTORIES: Cal State Fullerton is 4-1 against Michigan State all-time, including an 11-7 win on March 4 to close out the DeMarini Invitational... three of the five all-time meetings have been played in Fullerton... Friday's meeting with Charleston Southern will be the first between the Titans and Buccaneers in softball... Fullerton is 38-21-1 all-time against former conference rival UNLV, having won seven of the last eight meetings, but the two programs haven't met since a 5-1 win in Fullerton in 2006... the Titans are 20-10 at home against the Rebels all time... Fullerton holds a 46-21 lead in the series against Utah State, having won two straight after a 2-1, eight-inning, victory in Fullerton last season.

BEACH BUMS: This weekend will mark the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Titans will compete in their Big West rivals' tournament, going 1-1 last season with a win over Utah State and a loss to UCLA, a 3-1 mark in 2009 with wins over Syracuse, Florida International, and Longwood, as well as a 1-2 mark in 2008 with a win over Rutgers and losses to Northwestern and Notre Dame.

ALL SHE DOES IS IT WIN (AND, PERHAPS, TIE): Senior Nicole Johnson's bat played a pivotal role in the Titans' three victories last weekend at the DeMarini Invitational as her two, two-run home runs against Florida International and Southern Miss proved to be the game-winning hits while her three-run shot against Michigan State tied the game and was the big blast in an eight-run fifth that propelled the Titans to an 11-7 win. Johnson, who hit .417 in the tournament, led the DeMarini Invitational in slugging (1.250), RBI (7), home runs (3), and total bases (15) while also ranking among the tournament's top 15 hitters. The performance helped extend her hitting streak to six games (which was subsequently snapped against East Carolina on Tuesday) and raised her overall season average 30 points to .350 on the year.

DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK: Since missing Fullerton's six-game trip to the Central Valley in mid-February, senior Nicole Johnson has been seeing the ball well, batting .300 (9-for-30) with eight runs scored, 10 RBI, four extra-base hits, and a trio of home runs in 11 games.

POWER RESTORED?: Cal State Fullerton's offense entered the DeMarini Invitational with just two home runs as a team on the year, but found the juice that had been lacking all year, slugging a tournament-high five home runs in four games. The three home runs hit in their win against Michigan State were the most for the Titans in a single game since the slugged four round-trippers against UC Santa Barbara on April 2, 2010.

SHOW ME THE GLOVE: Fullerton's defense, which entered the DeMarini Invitational with a somewhat dismal .941 fielding percentage (29 errors in 489 chances), committed just one error in four games (130 chances) during the tournament, leading the field with a .992 fielding percentage and a tournament-best five double plays.

WALK WHICH WAY?: Sunday's DeMarini Invitational finale against Michigan State is the only time in 22 games thus far this season that the Titans have failed to draw a walk as a team.

HAPPY RETURNS: Senior Anissa Young made the most of her first start since Feb. 25 last weekend against Michigan State, showcasing the power that helped her lead SEC power LSU with 10 home runs a season ago. Young finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored, four RBI, and a pair of home runs (including the game-winning two-run shot as part of the team's huge fifth inning) against the Spartans in the tournament finale.

DOUBLE DIGIT RARITY: The 11 runs scored against Michigan State marked only the second time this season that the Titans have double digits in the runs column (13 vs. Colorado State on Feb. 10) while the 14 hits marked only the fourth double-digit performance by the Fullerton offense this season -- the most since the Titans finished with 15 hits against Santa Clara on Feb. 18 during the Fresno State Round Robin. On the flip side, opponents have already reached double figures in runs five times had collected double-digit hit totals in 13 of the 22 games this season.

CAUGHT RED HANDED: Senior Adriana Martinez was caught stealing for the first time in 2012 in the Titans' win over Michigan State, snapping a 13-for-13 start on the basepaths for the speedy infielder. Still, the 13 stolen bases, aside from being a career high, rank 10th on the school's single-season list as Martinez needs just one more to match Rachel Olvera (1997) and Chenita Rogers (1986) for the No. 8 spot. Martinez's 32 career steals now rank Martinez in a tie for fourth with Julie Watson (2001-04), needing five more to match Rogers for third place after Chentia stole 37 bases from 1986-87. The career record is held by Jstone Vines (1991-94) with 59 swipes.

IRON WOMEN: Outfielder's Ashley Carter and Leesa Harris along with infielders Emily Vizcarra and Adriana Martinez are the only four Titans to start all 22 games at the same position on defense this season, but Carter is the only player to hold on to her same spot in the batting order, hitting leadoff in all 22 contests.

JOHNSON WITH A TARGET ON HER BACK...: And her knee, and her thigh, and her arm... you get the picture. Senior Nicole Johnson is within striking distance of a rather dubious school record, entering this week's games with 39 career hit by pitches across her first three-plus Division I seasons. Johnson, who was bruised a team-high 15 times last season as a junior (tied for the fourth-highest total in the school's single-season record books), ranks third all-time in school history, needing just 17 more HBPs to match Crystal Vieyra's school record of 56 accumulated from 2005-08.

GET HER ON, GET HER IN: Aside from her 19 hits this season (which rank tied for second on the team), redshirt freshman Eliza Crawford has simply found a way to get on base, ranking fourth in the Big West with a .434 on base percentage, helped out by nine walks (tied for third in the league) and five hit by pitches (tied for the league lead). That has paid big dividends for the Titans as she has scored a team-high 12 runs -- good for fourth in the league with teammates Ashley Carter and Adri Martinez.

TRIPLE THE FUN: Johnson's triple against Boise State on Feb. 23 was the seventh three-bagger of her career, moving her into a five-way tie for seventh place on the school's career list alongside Missy Coombes (1987-90), Candice Baker (2004-07), Courtney Martinez (2006-09), and Sheila Holguin (2007-10). However, the senior does have some work to do to catch career leader Sue Lewis, who legged-out 20 career triples from 1981-84. Three more triples for Johnson, who slugged a career-best four triples in 2010, this season would make her only the fourth Titan with double digits in the category, joining Lewis, Terri Oberg (16 from 1985-86), and Rose Garces (10 from 1992-95).

A.C. A CHILLING SIGHT FOR OPPOSING PITCHERS: Junior Ashley Carter has picked up right where she left off as a sophomore, building off her career year in 2011 and entering the week's contests with a league-high 26 hits (already better than halfway to her career-high 43 hits from a year ago) and 12 runs scored while standing sixth in the Big West with a .342 average through 22 games. Carter, who led the team with 16 multi-hit games last season en route to a career-best .312 average, leads the team in that category once again in 2012 with five, two-hit games and a pair of career-high three-hit performances against Colorado State (Feb. 10) and Bakersfield (Feb. 17).

PRESEASON POLL: The Cal State Fullerton softball team was picked to finish third in the race for the 2012 Big West Conference title according to a vote of the league's head coaches released on Jan. 31, 2012, by the conference office. The Titans received 42 points to finish behind defending champion Pacific and Long Beach State, which received four first-place votes and 59 points apiece to stand tied atop the poll. UC Santa Barbara (37 points) was picked a close fourth followed by Cal State Northridge (34), Cal Poly (26), UC Davis (20), and UC Riverside (12).

A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Fullerton finished third in the Big West race a season ago with a 12-9 mark in conference play to go along with a 23-24 overall record. The Titans return seven position starters and a pair of pitchers while welcoming seven newcomers to the fold for 2012. Leading the way for the returners is senior infielder Nicole Johnson, an all-conference honorable mention selection who hit a team-high .331 to go with five home runs, and 17 RBI a season ago, as well as junior all-conference outfielder Ashley Carter, who hit .312 with a trio of triples, 14 walks, and eight RBI. In the circle, junior Katey Laban returns after earning all-conference honorable mention honors a season ago, finishing 5-7 overall with a 3.40 ERA and a .270 average against. In conference play, Laban was 5-3 with a 2.66 ERA and a .268 average against in 12 appearances.

GOING, GOING... BACK, BACK... TO CALI CALI: Perhaps one of the biggest offensive additions to the Titans' lineup this year is senior infielder Anissa Young, who returns to her native Southern California after playing for the last three seasons at LSU. The Fontana native (Bloomington HS) completed her best offensive season as a junior 2011, batting .272 in the ultra-competitive SEC with team high's in home runs (10) and RBI (42) while helping the Tigers to an NCAA Regional berth. During her career at LSU, she started every game but one (171 of 172), batting .252 for her career with 20 doubles, 26 home runs, 117 RBI, and 67 walks. One of those games during the 2009 season came against Cal State Fullerton at the NCAA Regional in Tempe as the then-freshman finished 1-for-3 with an RBI in a 3-2 victory over the Titans.

THREE SIGN WITH CAL STATE FULLERTON FOR 2013: Cal State Fullerton softball Head Coach Michelle Gromacki announced that high school standouts Jasmine Antunez, Samantha Galarza, and Melissa Sechrest have signed National Letters of Intent to continue their academic and athletic careers with the Titans beginning with the 2013 season.

"We are very excited about this incoming class of student-athletes," Gromacki said. "We couldn't be more confident that this recruiting class is one of the best we've had."

California natives Antunez, a 5-4 pitcher/outfielder from Garden Grove, and Galarza, a 5-5 utility player from Moreno Valley, join Arizona native Sechrest, a 5-foot-8, left-handed infielder/outfielder from Peoria, for the 2013 campaign as true freshmen.