Softball Welcomes Nation's Best to 2007 Judi Garman Classic

March 14, 2007

FULLERTON, CA - Cal State Fullerton once again welcomes some of the nation's best collegiate softball teams to southern California to compete in one of the country's most prestigious tournaments.

The 2007 Judi Garman Classic presented by Coach USA, named after the former Titan Hall of Fame Head Softball Coach and widely regarded as the premiere mid-season collegiate tournament in the country, will be held at the dual diamond Titan Softball Complex -- Anderson Family Field and the South Field -- on Wednesday, March 14, to Sunday, March 18.

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The tournament features 16 teams meeting face-to-face in a three-day pool play format consisting of four pools of four teams each. Results from pool play will seed a pair of eight-team championship brackets with two winners crowned on "Championship Sunday" at 1:30 p.m.

A LOOK AT THE FIELD: This weekend's tournament field features former NCAA National Champions Oklahoma (2000), Fresno State (1998), and Michigan (2005), along with seven-time defending National Champion Arizona (1991, 1993-94, 1996-97, 2001, 2006) and host Cal State Fullerton (1986). The Judi Garman Classic features nine former tournament champions in Arizona (1988, 1995-96, 1998), Arizona State (1999), Cal State Northridge (1993), Fresno State (1990), Louisiana-Lafayette (1994), Oklahoma (1997), Washington (2000, 2004), Michigan (2005), and 2006 champion Texas that will compete along with the host Titans (1981-82, 1985-87, 1991-92, 2001-02) for this year's title.

IN THE POLLS: Cal State Fullerton was listed among those teams receiving votes in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball and USA Today/NFCA Coaches polls for the week of March 5. New polls will be released beginning on Tuesday (March 13). This year's tournament field features nine teams ranked in the top 25 and three more among those receiving votes according to last week's rankings.

TITANS AT THE PONY... ERR... KIA... UMMM... JUDI GARMAN: The Titans own a 102-45 (.694) all-time record in their showcase event since 1981, but have not posted a winning record in the tournament since going 7-0 and winning their last tournament title in 2002. The tournament has operated continuously since 1981 under the PONY, Cal State Fullerton Showcase, Kia Klassic and, now, Judi Garman Classic monikers with the host Titans claiming nine tournament titles.

BAKER SWEEPS NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS: In addition to her second Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week award, Cal State Fullerton senior right-hander Candice Baker was named both the USA Softball and NFCA National Player of the Week last week after helping the Titans to a 4-1 record at their own Worth Invitational. Baker allowed only an unearned run on four hits in 21 innings of work, including posting wins over No. 8 Stanford and No. 11 Oregon State. She also held opponents to an .060 average and struck out 20 batters on the weekend.

BAKER JOINS THE NO-NO CLUB: Baker's National Player of the Week ballot got a tremendous boost after the senior tossed her first collegiate no-hitter in the Titans' 1-0 shutout of the Cardinal. She almost added her second two days later after throwing 5 2/3 innings of no-hit softball in a 1-0 win over the Beavers. The no-no was the 56th in Cal State Fullerton history and the first since Marissa Marzan's six-inning perfect game in 10-0 Titan victory over Pacific on April 23, 2006.

A LOOK BACK: Cal State Fullerton split a pair of wild mid-week contests last week as the Titans came from behind to defeat Loyola-Chicago, 6-2, before No. 12 UCLA used five home runs to beat Fullerton, 8-1. Against the Ramblers, sophomore Lauren Lupinetti and junior Katie Gollhardt hit home runs in the win, but a baserunning miscue by Loyola-Chicago in the second inning negated a bases-loaded triple and erased three runs off the board to keep the Titans within a run at 2-1. Fullerton then went on to score three runs in the fourth to take the lead for good and add two more runs in the sixth. Against the Bruins, Krista Colburn, who finished 3-for-5 for UCLA, led off the game with a home run and was joined in the long-ball club by teammates Julie Burney, Kaila Shull, Megan Langenfeld, and Jaisa Creps en route to the win. Fullerton's lone run came in the fourth on a sac fly by Kiki Munoz, scoring Ashley Van Boxmeer to spoil the shutout bid.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS?: No... more like pitching and defense. Cal State Fullerton ranks first or second in the Big West entering the week in ERA (2nd), opponent batting average (1st), strikeouts (1st), strikeouts looking (1st), fewest hits allowed (2nd), fewest runs allowed (2nd), fewest earned runs allowed (2nd), fielding percentage (1st), fewest errors (1st), and double plays (2nd).

THE ART OF THE "0": Two more shutouts for Baker at the Worth Invitational brings her Big West-leading total to seven this season, one more than she had all of last year and one fewer than her career total of eight entering her senior season.

GET `EM ON, GET `EM HOME... FAST: The Titans have gotten into the swing of scoring early this season, outscoring their opponents, 40-20, in the first three innings and posting a 13-1 record this season when scoring first.

SEND `EM UP... SIT `EM DOWN: Candice Baker extended her league-leading strikeout total to 112 last week - becoming the first and only Big West pitcher thus far to reach the century mark in strikeouts in 2007. Her 565 strikeouts rank her fifth on the school's all-time list with current Titans' assistant coach and two-time All-American Gina Oaks (685 career strikeouts) next on the list.

TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM: Seems we have a new Crystal Vieyra on the team. Sophomore Lauren Lupinetti has inherited the title of "target" thus far this season as she has been hit by a pitch a team and Big West-high nine times in 23 games in 2007 - including five times at the Palm Springs Classic in February. Vieyra, who has played in only five games this season due to injury, has ranked in the top five in the nation the last two seasons in the HBP category - including leading the NCAA with 17 HBP's as a freshman in 2005 - and stands 11 shy of the school record with 36 in her two-plus seasons.

GIVING ONE FOR THE TEAM: Sophomore Courtney Martinez, who leads the team in runs batted in with 12, has also been adept at giving her teammates chances to drive home runs as she also leads the team with 13 sacrifice hits (to go along with one sac fly) and has advanced runners in 67 percent (28-of-42) of her at bats this season. Last season, Martinez had 13 sacrifice hits (and one sac fly) to lead the team as a freshman.

COMING UP CLUTCH: Senior Ashley Van Boxmeer has been the Titan to turn to when Fullerton needs the clutch hit. "Box" leads the team in hitting with two outs with a .407 average and a team-high seven two-out RBI.

VAN BOXMEER MOVES INTO TIE FOR FOURTH: Van Boxmeer's four home runs this season give her 27 for her Titans' career, moving her into a tie for fourth place with Amanda Hockett (2000-03) on the school's all-time list. Van Boxmeer needs two more to match Monica Lucatero (1999-02) for third place and six more to catch Jenny Topping (2001-03) for second place all-time. Fullerton's career record is held by former All-American Yasmin Mossadeghi, who hit 47 in her four-year career for the Titans from 1999-02.

THE "JUNIOR JINX"?: After avoiding the dreaded "sophomore slump" with breakout seasons offensively in 2006, Fullerton's Katie Gollhardt and Jenna Wheeler have found hits hard to come by in 2007 as juniors. Gollhardt, who hit .318 with 10 home runs and 45 RBI last season, is hitting just .191 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 2007. Wheeler, who led the team in hitting at .339 to go with seven home runs and 24 RBI as a sophomore, has struggled to just a .179 average with two home runs and nine RBI.

SHOW ME SOME GLOVE: The Titans' defense has been stellar to start the 2007 season as Fullerton has committed only nine errors in 621 chances for a .986 fielding percentage - 18 points better than second place Cal Poly. This after a 2006 season that saw Cal State Fullerton post the best fielding percentage in school history (.972) and the fewest errors in a season (49).

STINGY WITH THE HITS: All three of Cal State Fullerton's starting pitchers this season have been bullish against opposing batters, helping the Titans to a league-low .182 batting average against. Seniors Candice Baker and Brooke Weekley, along with junior Jessica Doucette, all rank among the Big West's top 10 in batting average against with Baker leading the way with a .148 average against. Weekley ranks seventh with a .221 average and Doucette is right behind her in eighth place with a .224 average against.

GOTTA WIN THE CLOSE ONES: Cal State Fullerton has been in just about every game it has played this season as 11 of its 23 contests have been decided by two runs or less. However, the Titans are just 5-6 in those contests, hitting just .249 as a team and .221 with runners in scoring position.

TITANS PICKED TO REPEAT AS BIG WEST CHAMPS: The 2007 Cal State Fullerton softball team was picked to repeat as champions of the Big West Conference according to a vote of the league's coaches released on Jan. 24 by the conference office. The Titans received six of the seven possible first-place votes and 48 points overall to outdistance second-place Cal Poly, which received 35 points. The two were followed by last year's runner-up Long Beach State (33 points) in third and UC Santa Barbara and Pacific, which tied for fourth with 25 points apiece. Cal State Northridge (17 points) received the remaining first-place vote and was picked sixth followed by UC Riverside (13 points) in seventh.

BAKER IS ONE TO WATCH FOR: Senior right-hander Candice Baker was one of 50 players named to the initial watch list for the sixth annual USA Softball National Player of the Year Award on Jan. 23. The list is comprised of players representing 33 schools and 11 different NCAA Division I conferences. Baker, a two-time All-West Region First-Team selection as a utility player, was 22-10 in the circle as a junior with a 2.16 ERA and a Big West best 259 strikeouts and a .194 batting average against. The list will be pared down to 25 names on April 4 and will shrink yet again to 10 players on May 9. The three finalists will be announced on May 23 with the winner named prior to the start of the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.

THE "TITAN FAMILY": Family ties reign supreme at Cal State Fullerton in 2007. Cousins Jenna Wheeler and Courtney Martinez will play together for the second straight season... Yvette Fernandez's cousin is former Fullerton All-American Monica Lucatero... Jessica Doucette's mother, the former Teri Young, was a member of the Titans' first-ever softball team in 1980... Dana Crucil's father, Jeff, was an offensive lineman for the Titans' football team in the early 1970s.

VAN BOXMEER NAMED EARNS SPOT ON CANADIAN NATIONAL TEAMS: Cal State Fullerton senior Ashley Van Boxmeer was named to Canada's 17-member World University Games team that will compete on Aug. 8-18 in Bangkok, Thailand, and will also compete with the Senior Women's National Team at the 2007 Canada Cup.