Long Beach Tournament Up Next For Titans

March 10, 2011

FULLERTON, CA -

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PLAY BALL: A busy week comes to an end this weekend as the Cal State Fullerton softball team (6-10 overall) plays an abbreviated schedule as part of the Long Beach Marriott Invitational beginning Friday night. The Titans open with a single game against Utah State on March 11 at 6 p.m. at Anderson Family Field before heading to Mayfair Park in Lakewood on Saturday (March 12) to take on No. 9 UCLA and BYU at 3:45 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Saturday's contests will be played at Mayfair Park, located at 5720 Clark Ave. in Lakewood, CA on the corner of South St. and Clark Ave.

IN THE POLLS: UCLA is the highest-ranked team the Titans will face this weekend, entering the tournament ranked No. 9 by the NFCA and No. 10 by USA Softball. Cal State Fullerton, Utah State, and BYU are unlisted in this week's polls.

I NEED STATS, STAT!: Once again in 2011, live in-game statistics via CBS College Sports' Gametracker will be available for all Cal State Fullerton home games and selected road contests this season (barring technical difficulties). Fans can access the links from the softball schedule page at FullertonTitans.com.

COACH GROMACKI ON LEAVE: Head Coach Michelle Gromacki is on a leave of absence and will not be with the team in Cathedral City. "Our head coach is on leave and not available for this tournament," said Director of Athletics Brian Quinn. "We are hoping she will be back soon. Coach (Dee Dee) Kingsbury is in charge of the team."

I SEE YOU!: For the sixth consecutive season, fans can watch live streaming video over the Internet thanks to a partnership between the Big West Conference and CBS College Sports. Live video streaming of selected Cal State Fullerton softball home and road contests will be available on a subscription basis and can be accessed by visiting www.BigWest.org/TV. A monthly subscription of \$9.95 or an annual subscription of \$79.95 delivers exclusive coverage of every home and conference women's volleyball and men's and women's basketball contests along with selected men's and women's soccer, baseball, softball, and Big West Conference championships.

LOOKING AHEAD: Following this weekend's tournament, the Titans will return home for nine straight games to close out non-conference play, five of those as part of the 2011 Judi Garman Classic at Anderson Family Field that runs from March 16-20. A complete schedule for the tournament is available here: http://www.fullertontitans.com/sports/w-softbl/2011-judi-garman-classic.html. Fullerton will then host Ohio and Canisius on Saturday (March 26) before taking on Cal State Bakersfield in a doubleheader on Sunday (March 27).

THE WEEK THAT WAS: Cal State Fullerton finished a successful weekend at the DeMarini Invitational, winning three of its four games over the weekend to finish tied with California and stand just behind tournament champions Stanford and Northwestern, which finished unbeaten at 5-0. The Titans posted wins over IPFW (2-0), Southern Miss (5-1), and Oregon State (3-2) while falling to Iowa (5-1) during the tournament, finishing in the middle of the pack in batting average (.256) and fourth in team ERA (2.00) while committing just two errors in 124 chances (.984) to lead the tournament in fielding. Fullerton then stumbled out of the gate to start this week, dropping a midweek non-conference doubleheader to visiting Troy University by the scores of 4-0 and 13-4.

ABOUT UTAH STATE: The Aggies enter the weekend with a 5-14 overall record and are coming off a four-game split with Cal State Bakersfield, posting wins of 9-6 and 3-1 against the Roadrunners while falling 4-3 and 4-1 in the other two games... Utah State has lost eight of its last 10 contests, ending a six-game losing streak with a win over Bakersfield in the opener... Kelly Kaneshiro and Kassandra Uchida lead the offense with a .341 average while Kaneshiro leads the team in runs scored (11) and home runs (5) while standing second in RBI (9)... Mandy Harmon has seen the majority of time in the circle for the Aggies, posting a 4-10 record and 5.92 ERA in 10 starts... she has thrown 71 of the team's 119.1 innings thus far this season.

ABOUT UCLA: The ninth-ranked Bruins enter the weekend with a 16-4 overall record after finishing 3-1 at the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego last week, posting wins over BYU (5-2), San Diego State (3-1), and Cal Poly (4-0) while falling to Baylor (5-1)... freshman Alyssa Tiumalu leads UCLA offensively, batting .463 on the year with a pair of home runs and 11 RBI while standing as one of two Bruins (Kellie Fox, .456) to enter the weekend hitting better than .400 on the season... UCLA is hitting .319 as a team, outscoring the opposition by a 130-45 count and slugging 28 home runs thus far this season... In the circle, freshman Jessica Hall has seen the majority of time, posting a 10-3 record with a 2.05 ERA and 62 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .201 average... senior Donna Kerr has also seen significant time, posting a 5-1 record with a 1.36 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 46.1 innings.

ABOUT BYU: The Cougars enter the tournament with an 8-12 overall record after posting a 1-4 mark at the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego last weekend... BYU downed Cal Poly, 5-0, in its tournament finale after falling to No. 25 Houston (4-0), Long Beach State (1-0), No. 23 Fresno State (7-3), and No. 6 UCLA (5-2)... Jessica Fitu leads the Cougars' offense, batting .471 with 12 runs scored, seven doubles, five home runs, and 23 RBI... BYU is hitting .267 as a team with a 97-91 advantage in the scoring column... In the circle, Paige Affleck has shouldered the load, starting 13 of the team's 20 games while posting a 5-8 record with a 3.51 ERA, 60 strikeouts, and a .237 average against.

SERIES NOTES: Cal State Fullerton holds a 45-21 record all time against Utah State, but the two programs haven't met since 2006 - the year after the Aggies left the Big West Conference - posting an 8-0 win at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas... Utah State has won five of the last seven meetings in the series, however, sweeping a conference series from the Titans in 2004 and taking two-of-three in 2005... UCLA leads the all-time series with the Titans, 38-32-1, having won the last three straight from Fullerton - including a 9-6 win at Easton Stadium last season... the Titans haven't defeated the Bruins since a 1-0, eight-inning victory in Los Angeles on March 12, 2008... Cal State Fullerton has lost both of its meetings with BYU all time, falling 5-2 in 2006 and 10-3 in 2010 - both meetings coming in Las Vegas.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY AT MAYFAIR PARK: This weekend will mark the fourth time that the Titans will take part in a tournament at Mayfair Park in Lakewood, posting a 2-2 record at the Stacey Winsberg Memorial Tournament in 2005 hosted by UCLA (splitting a pair of games each against the Bruins and Georgia) while going 1-2 in 2008 (win over Rutgers and losses to Northwestern and Notre Dame) and 3-1 in 2009 (wins over Syracuse, Florida International, and Longwood with a loss to Iowa) at events hosted by Long Beach State.

TITANS CLAIM A "GRAND" VICTORY: Fullerton's win over Oregon State to close out the DeMarini Invitational delivered a bit of Big West history for the Titans' program as it became the first school to win 1,000 games as a member of the Big West Conference. Fullerton is now 1,000-547-3 all-time as a conference member, way ahead of second-place Long Beach State, which enters the week at 933-561-1.

EIGHT IS GREAT FOR CRADDICK: A .246 career hitter entering her senior season, K.C. Craddick is currently enjoying her finest season at the plate in her four-year collegiate career, batting .400 with a home run and eight RBI,and takes a team-best eight-game hitting streak into this weekends tournament in Lakewood. During her streak, Craddick is batting a robust .579 (11-for-19) with five runs scored and six RBI while walking another seven times. Her eight-game streak is the longest for a Titan since Torrie Anderson's eight-game streak from Feb. 21-March 5 last season and is twice as long as the next longest streak by a Fullerton player this season (Ashley Carter and Lauren Mario with four-game hit streaks each).

SUPER MARIO SETS THE TABLE: Freshman Lauren Mario has made quite an impact at the top of the Titans' lineup as of late, reaching base safely in the team's last 10 consecutive games while batting .308 (8-for-26) with seven walks during that stretch. Mario has scored nine of her team-best 10 runs over the last 10 games, including the game-winning runs last weekend against Southern Miss and Oregon State. Overall, Mario is batting .265 with a team-high five extra-base hits and ranks third among regulars in slugging (.441) and on base percentage (.405).

ARI SHARES PITCHER OF THE WEEK LAURELS: Senior right-hander Ari Cervantes was named the Big West Conference Co-Pitcher of the Week on March 7 after a stellar weekend at the DeMarini Invitational. It was the second career weekly pitching honor from the conference office for the Tustin native, but her first since her sophomore year when she was 3-1 at the 2009 Judi Garman Classic with wins over nationally-ranked Texas, Oklahoma, and Washington. At the DeMarini, Cervantes saw significant action in all four of the Titans' contests, posting three complete-game victories and a 1.08 ERA while holding opponents to a .144 average in four appearances. She tossed a three-hit shutout in the opener against IPFW and allowed just two hits in a 5-1 win over Southern Miss. In the tournament finale, Cervantes scattered just four hits in a complete-game win over Oregon State. Her ERA ranked fifth among tournament pitchers and she also finished third in average against, led the tournament in innings pitched (26), and tied for the lead in wins (3).

RECOVERY IN THE CIRCLE: Cervantes, who enters the weekend with a 5-5 record in the circle in 11 appearances this season, is just one victory shy of her entire 2010 pitching total when she muddled through a 6-19 season as a junior. This season, Cervantes has an almost 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (41 strikeouts to 11 walks) and her strikeout total is just 11 shy of her total from 2010.

K.C. DEMOLISHES DEMARINI PITCHING: Craddick was the Titans' offense hero during last weekend's DeMarini Invitational, batting .556 with five RBI (including all three runs in a tournament-ending win over Oregon State) for the event with hits in all four games while posting a .692 on base percentage and a 1.000 slugging percentage as Fullerton finished 3-1. Against Southern Miss, the senior also slugged her first career home run (to the opposite field, no less) in the first inning to stake the Titans to a 2-0 lead en route to a 5-1 victory over the Golden Eagles. She also walked four times while finishing fourth among all tournament players in average, tied for fourth in slugging, second in on base percentage, tied for fourth in RBI, and tied for fourth in walks.

TITANS STRONG AGAINST NATION'S PREMIER SOFTBALL CONFERENCE: Fullerton's win over Oregon State on March 6 marked the Titans' second win over a Pac-10 school this season - the first time that has happened since they posted wins over Washington and Oregon during the 2009 campaign. Fullerton, which also defeated the Ducks on Feb. 13 to close out the Kajikawa Classic, snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Pac-10 with its win over Oregon and has one more game against one of the nation's strongest softball conferences this weekend against UCLA. A win over the Bruins on Saturday will give the Titans their most wins over the Pac-10 since 2008.

JOHNSON COLLECTS QUARTET OF HITS: Junior Nicole Johnson had herself a career night in game two of a non-conference doubleheader against Troy on Tuesday (March 8), going 4-for-4 at the plate against the Trojans as part of a 12-hit Titans' attack to set a new career high. It was the first four-hit game by a Fullerton batter this season and the first since Trina Harrison finished 4-for-4 and a triple short of the cycle against Louisiana-Lafayette on March 21 last season. Johnson, who tied for the top average on the team in 2010 after hitting .287 for the season, is second on the team this year with a .325 average overall with a pair of doubles, a home run, and five RBI.

"FASTER THAN FAST, QUICKER THAN QUICK": They are speed. Cal State Fullerton enters the weekend with 14 stolen bases in 16 games thus far this season, well-ahead of last year's pace that didn't see the Titans swipe their 14th base until game 24 against Saint Mary's. Fullerton, which entered the week fifth in the Big West in steals, is led by fleet-of-foot senior Sammie Dabbs, who is a perfect 6-for-6 on the year and stands as one of six players with at least one stolen base on the season.

POWER RESTORED?: After hitting just two home runs all season entering last weekend's tournament, the Titans finally found that homerun swing at home, as three different players have left the yards in the team's last four games, snapping a string of eight consecutive contests without a home run dating back to Natalie DeLeese's second of the year against Oklahoma State on Feb. 12.

GET `EM ON, GET `EM OVER: Sophomore Ashley Carter has shown she is the ultimate team player at the top of the Titans' lineup this season, moving runners up into scoring position with a Big West Conference-best nine sacrifice hits thus far this season - almost halfway to breaking into the school's top 10 in the category for a single season. She has two games with a pair of sacrifice hits and has at least one sacrifice in four of her last six games. It's just one part of a big offensive year for Carter, who is batting .289 overall (better than 100 points higher than her .180 average as a freshman) with a double, two triples, and an RBI.

HOW'S THIS FOR A START?: After enduring one of the most difficult seasons in the history of the program, things don't get much easier for the Titans in 2011 as they will face 16 teams either ranked in the preseason top 25 or among those receiving votes among their first 26 games overall.

AND THE HITS (BY PITCH) JUST KEEP ON COMING: Two more bruises for junior Nicole Johnson in Cathedral City has the Canyon Country, CA native rapidly ascending the Titans' all-time charts as her 26 HBPs (eighth all-time) stands just one back of Lauren Lupinetti (2007-09), Katie Gollhardt (2005-08), and Candice Baker (2004-07) for fifth place all-time. Johnson, who leads the team and ranks second in the Big West Conference this week in the category with five, led the team with 13 HBPs last season and ranked as one of four Big West players to be hit 10 (or more) times last year. Johnson's 2010 total was just seven off the school single-season record, standing in a four-way tie for sixth.

NO NEED TO PANIC: Slow starts are nothing new to senior Torrie Anderson. Despite hitting just .154 (6-for-39) - but leading the team with eight RBI - to start the 2011 season, things are bound to look up for the Castaic native, who has finished strong after struggling to open the year the last two seasons en route to All-Big West First-Team honors each time. As a junior, Anderson opened just 3-for-27 (.111) in 2010, but finished batting .287 with 11 home runs and 27 RBI in 53 games. As a sophomore, Anderson opened the year 6-for-31 (.194) at the plate, but hit .284 for the year with 11 home runs and 35 RBI. Her best start to a season came as a freshman in 2008 when she opened her career 10-for-27 (.370) at the plate in the first 10 games with seven runs scored and eight RBI.

THE PRINCESS OF POP: Senior Torrie Anderson, a two-time All-Big West Conference First-Team honoree, enters her final season in a Titan uniform ranking as one of the top sluggers in the history of the program. Anderson, who has led the team in home runs, RBI, and runs scored in each of the last two seasons, ranks tied for sixth with her 25 career home runs, just two back of Amanda Hockett (2000-03) for fifth place and 22 dingers behind all-time leader Yasmin Mossadeghi (1999-02), who finished with 47 for her career. Anderson, a career .275 hitter, also ranks fifth all-time in slugging (.513) and just outside the top 10 in five other offensive categories.

SPEAKING OF THE LONG BALL: The Titans once again led the Big West Conference with their 36 home runs last season, marking the fifth consecutive season that Fullerton has slugged at least 30 home runs in a season. Individually, senior Torrie Anderson led the Big West with her 11 home runs last season after finishing second as a sophomore in 2009 - the first time a Titan led the league in round-trippers since Ashley Van Boxmeer tied for the top spot with 13 in 2006 en route to Big West Co-Player of the Year honors.

DEFENSE IS HER MIDDLE NAME: Senior K.C. Craddick has been an invaluable cog to the inner workings of the Titans' infield during her career, proving to be one of the program's most spectacular defenders as she enters her final season. Craddick, who has started every game at first base over the last two seasons, enters the 2011 campaign ranked fourth on the school's all-time chart with a .989 fielding percentage while standing eighth with 1,037 career chances. Her .993 fielding percentage as a junior last season is the ninth-best single-season mark in school history.

BEHIND THE MASK: Put under the gun behind the plate in her first full season at the Division I level, sophomore catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama did well helping direct the Fullerton defense, posting a .995 fielding percentage (10th in the Big West Conference and seventh in a single season in school history) in 183 chances while leading the league by throwing out 14 would-be base stealers.

ARE YOU FROM OUT OF TOWN?: Freshman Chelsea Durgin joins the Titans for her rookie season all the way from Summit, NJ - one of only a handful of Fullerton players to hail from outside the state of California. Durgin joins former Titan JoAnn Ferrieri (1983-86) as New Jersey natives and is only the 14th non-Californian to compete for Cal State Fullerton in softball - the first since Jessica Maloney (Phoenix, AZ) in 2000. In all, there have been five players from Arizona (Maloney, Tammy McKinney, Connie Clark, Tracy Tousley, and Buffy Sanchez), two each from New Jersey and Washington (Chris Gage and Stephenie Little), and one apiece from Michigan (Kathy Van Wyk), Nevada (Rina Foster), and Hawaii (Alani Silva) as well as international players from Japan (Miho Sasamoto) and New Zealand (Debbie Mygind).

GROMACKI ADDED TO USA SOFTBALL COACHING POOL: Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Michelle Gromacki has been selected as one of 24 coaches to be included in the USA Softball Women's National Coaching Pool for the 2011-2012 seasons the organization announced on Jan. 28. Gromacki has long been involved with various women's national teams over the years, dating back to her days as a player and on into her tenure as a coach with Cal State Fullerton, most recently helping the Red, White, and Blue to a seventh-consecutive, and ninth overall, gold medal at the International Softball Federation's Women's World Championships in Venezuela as well as a fourth-straight KFC World Cup of Softball title in Oklahoma City.

TITANS PICKED SIXTH IN BIG WEST RACE: The Cal State Fullerton softball team was picked to finish sixth in the Big West Conference according to a vote of the league's coaches released on Feb. 1. The Titans collected 31 points and a first-place vote to finish ahead of UC Santa Barbara (22 points) and UC Riverside (16) in seventh and eighth, respectively, and just behind Pacific (34) in fifth place. It is the lowest predicted finish for Fullerton since Head Coach Michelle Gromacki took over as interim head coach in 2000, surpassing the fifth-place predicted finish in 2005 when the Titans eventually finished third in the conference and advanced to the final day of NCAA Regional play before falling to UCLA. Aside from that season, the Titans were selected no lower than third in any of the other 10 preseason polls, including five first-place finishes and a quartet of second-place finishes. Cal Poly and 2010 co-champion UC Davis each received three first-place votes, but the Mustangs collected 54 points to the Aggies' 51 to finish atop the preseason poll. Cal State Northridge (41 points), the other half of last year's co-championship, was third followed closely by Long Beach State (39).

A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Fullerton is coming off of one of its most difficult seasons as the Titans finished just 14-39 (.264) overall and 9-12 in Big West play for sixth place. They return 13 letter winners overall and eight position starters off of last season's squad and three pitchers who saw time in the circle in 2010. A talented class of five freshmen (three infielders and two outfielders) and a redshirt from a season ago (Latisha Dedeaux) completes the roster as all look to make an immediate impact. A pair of All-Big West selections return led by the big bat of senior outfielder Torrie Anderson, who hit .287 with 11 home runs, 27 RBI, and 33 runs scored while starting all 53 games. Senior Ari Cervantes was an honorable mention utility selection a season ago after posting a 6-19 mark in the circle and a .303 average at the plate while the Titans will miss the services of sophomore Gabby Aragon, who is out for the year after off-season surgery. She finished her rookie season batting .288 in 44 games overall (.388 in conference play) to earn second-team honors.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!: The 2011 season marks the 25th anniversary of Cal State Fullerton's 1986 NCAA National Championship and the Titans will celebrate that squad with a reunion prior to their game against Texas (and Longhorns' Head Coach Connie Clark, who helped pitch Fullerton to that national title) on Saturday, March 19, at the Judi Garman Classic.

TITANS-49ERS PICKED UP BY ESPNU AGAIN: The Big West Conference announced that the doubleheader between Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State from the 49ers Softball Complex on May 7 will be broadcast live on ESPNU beginning at 12 p.m. The matchup pits two programs which have combined to win 10 of the last 13 Big West Conference softball titles and will mark the fifth consecutive season that the Titans have appeared on national television after the ESPN family of networks carried Fullerton's super regional contests against Arizona in 2007, the Titans' regional games at UCLA and Arizona in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and the Fullerton-Long Beach doubleheader on May 8 last season.