Aztecs Up Next as Titans Look to Keep Rolling

March 19, 2009

FULLERTON, CA -

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BATTER UP!: After tying for the best record at last weekend's Judi Garman Classic, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (12-13 overall) concludes the non-conference portion of its schedule with a home-and-home "doubleheader" against San Diego State this weekend. The Titans travel south for a single game at the SDSU Softball Stadium on Friday night (March 20) at 6 p.m. before returning the favor and hosting the Aztecs on Saturday afternoon (March 21) at 1 p.m. at Anderson Family Field..

TITANS BACK IN THE POLLS: Thanks to its 4-1 mark against some of the nation's toughest teams last weekend, Cal State Fullerton has made its way back into the national spotlight. The Titans are receiving votes in both the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll (2) and the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll (1) entering this weekend's games. San Diego State is also receiving votes, getting eight nods in the NFCA poll.

I NEED STATS, STAT!: Barring technical difficulties (insert sound of knocking on wood here), Gametracker will be available for both of Cal State Fullerton's games this week. Links will be available on the softball schedule page of FullertonTitans.com.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? GOOD!: Cal State Fullerton's home contest against San Diego State on Saturday will be carried live over the Internet at www.FullertonTitans.com. Veteran Titan play-by-play man Mike Martinez will handle the call live from Anderson Family Field.

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.

A LOOK AT THE AZTECS: San Diego State enters the weekend with a 19-13 overall record, winning eight of its last 10 contests after splitting a doubleheader on Tuesday with Texas Tech at home... Brittany Knudsen leads all regulars offensively, batting .278 with a team-high 14 RBI... Felicia Reifschneider is batting .424 in 24 games, mostly off the bench... Bailey Micetich (10-4, 1.87) and Samantha Beasley (9-9, 2.19 ERA) have split time in the circle this season, holding opponents to a .228 average this year.

THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with San Diego State by a 45-12 margin, but the Aztecs have won the last two meetings, emerging victorious in nine innings by a 2-1 margin last season and 3-2 in eight innings in 2007... Fullerton's last win in the series came in 2006, taking the second game of a doubleheader in San Diego by an 8-0 score... the Titans are 23-4 all-time against the Aztecs at home and 21-6 all-time in San Diego.

FORMER TITANS CLASH: This weekend will mark the second straight week that a pair of former Titan players-turned-coaches will meet on the diamond as former Fullerton catcher and current head coach Michelle Gromacki (1985-87) will meet former Titan pitcher, 1982 Broderick Award winner, and San Diego State Head Coach Kathy Van Wyk (1982). Van Wyk, an assistant coach for Cal State Fullerton from 1983-87 and again from 1991-94, is 7-6 all-time against her alma mater since assuming the head spot at SDSU in 1997, but the series between Van Wyk and Gromacki is tied at 5-5.

SUCCESS CONTINUES AT THE GARMAN: The Titans continued to shine at their showcase event, as their 4-1 record this past weekend at the Judi Garman Classic improved their overall record to 108-52 (.675) in the tournament that has been held under numerous monikers since 1981. The Titans were 74-22 at the PONY Tournament, 5-5 at the unsponsored Cal State Fullerton Tournament, 20-16 at the KIA Klassic, and are now 9-9 since the event was renamed to honor Fullerton's Hall of Fame Head Coach Judi Garman in 2006.

DOLLARHIDE CASHES IN: Cal State Fullerton freshman Samantha Dollarhide was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week after emerging as one of the top hitters at the 2009 Judi Garman Classic. The rookie from Tustin, Calif., batted .538 for the five-game weekend, slugging a pair of doubles, her first career home run and driving home five runs to help Fullerton's cause. She ranked among the top 10 in the tournament in average (3rd), slugging (5th), on-base percentage (5th), hits (7th), and total bases (9th).

CERVANTES ALSO HONORED: Cal State Fullerton sophomore right-hander Ari Cervantes earned her first career Big West Pitcher of the Week honor on Monday, sharing the award with Cal State Northridge's Debbie Duran. Cervantes posted a 3-1 mark on the weekend with a 1.50 ERA and wins over nationally ranked Oklahoma and Washington and tossing a three-hit shutout over Texas, which was receiving votes in both the national polls. Cervantes held opponents to a .176 batting average on the week, finishing ranked among the tournament leaders in ERA (8th), opposing batting average (6th), innings pitched (2nd), and wins (t2nd).

TITANS ON A ROLL: Hold the mayo. Since losing a school-record seven straight games earlier this season, Fullerton has rediscovered its winning ways, claiming victory in seven of its last nine contests. The Titans, who were hitting an anemic .188 entering the Long Beach Invitational two weeks ago, have upped their batting average 25 points over the course of the last two tournaments to .213 overall. In that time, Fullerton has slugged 10 home runs and 23 extra base hits in that nine-game stretch while the pitching staff has held the opposition to a .205 average.

"ARI"-ING IT OUT: Cervantes has continued to shine in the circle over the past two weekend, posting a 6-2 record and a 1.51 ERA in her last eight appearances, including throwing her first career shutouts and surrendering only 12 earned runs on 37 hits in just under 56 innings of work. A 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio has also helped as the right-hander has held opposing batters to just a .189 average.

NEW GAME, DIFFERENT HERO: In Cal State Fullerton's 12 victories this season, the Titans have had seven different players account for the game-winning RBI while nine different Fullerton baserunners have come around to score the game-winning run.

CAUGHT LOOKING: Fullerton's pitching staff ranks second in the league in strikeouts looking with 45 on the season, trailing only Long Beach State (53). Cervantes ranks second in the league, as 27 of her 66 strikeout victims left with the bat on their shoulder, while Heinle is ninth in the Big West with 17 batters caught staring this season.

NO POWER SHORTAGE HERE: The Fullerton lineup continues to generate power this season as five more home runs this weekend has boosted the Titans' Big West-leading total to 22 entering this week's games - besting second place Cal Poly by five long balls to start the season and standing as one of five conference teams with double-digit home run totals. Three Titans rank among the league leaders as sophomore Torrie Anderson (who hit two home runs this past weekend) is second in the league with seven while senior Courtney Martinez and junior Francesca Gonzales stand in a tie for fifth with four apiece.

"SPEAK SOFTLY...": Cal State Fullerton sophomore Torrie Anderson is carrying the big stick for the Titans in 2009 as her seven home runs leads the team and stands just four shy of breaking onto the school's single-season top 10 list. The last time a Titan reached double digits in the home run column was in 2007 when Jessica Doucette slugged 11 round-trippers to help Cal State Fullerton to the NCAA Super Regionals.

GOOSE EGG: Fullerton's 1-0 shutout over Texas last week was only the Titans' second shutout of the season and the first since they blanked Virginia by the same score on Feb. 14 at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic.

WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: Three of Cal State Fullerton's four victories this past weekend at the Judi Garman Classic (and four of the five games overall) were decided by a single run as the Titans improved to 6-2 this season in one-run contests. Fullerton is hitting .241 and slugging .448 in those contests while holding opponents to a .216 average in eight games. Freshman Morgan LeMond is the team's leading hitter in one-run contests, batting .438 while four other players are batting better than .300 in those games. Sophomore Ari Cervantes has been masterful in the circle, posting a 4-2 record with a 1.45 ERA and 23 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a .196 average. Krystal Heinle is also 2-0 in one-run games in the circle.

WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER: Cal State Fullerton's current three-game winning streak is tied for the longest this year and is the longest since the Titans won four straight from April 13-20 last season. A sweep of San Diego State this weekend would run the streak to five straight games and give Fullerton its longest winning stretch since the Titans won eight in a row from March 27-April 14 in 2007.

EXTRA, EXTRA: The Titans have had at least one extra base hit in each of their last nine games and in 20 of 25 games overall this season. During their nine-game streak, 23 of the team's 61 hits (38 percent) have gone for extra bases - including 10 home runs.

PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER: Cal State Fullerton fell just shy of matching its season high with six walks in its 4-3 victory over No. 9 Oklahoma - including three intentionally - helping increase the Titans' season total of bases on balls to 70 on the year. Fullerton, which ranks tied for third in the Big West Conference in walks this season, has been held to without a walk only twice in 25 games this season (against Stanford and Bowling Green) and has drawn seven walks twice in back-to-back games against Utah and nationally ranked Northwestern.

HEINLE BACK IN THE GROOVE: Cal State Fullerton freshman Krystal Heinle got back into the win column, scattering just six hits and striking out a career-high 11 batters in a 7-3 win over Bowling Green at the Judi Garman Classic. It was the first win for the right-hander since tossing a four-hit shutout with six strikeouts against Virginia on Feb. 14.

"EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE `LEMOND'": Those of you who took French will find that hilarious (and, yes, we know it's spelled wrong). Freshman Morgan LeMond has continued to provide some offensive spark since breaking into the starting lineup, batting .429 last weekend at the Judi Garman Classic with a home run and two RBI in the middle of the Titans' batting order. With only one career hit entering last weekend's Long Beach Invitational, LeMond is batting a robust .360 over her last nine games with three home runs, six runs scored, and four RBI to go along with a career-high three hits against No. 9 Oklahoma. In the process, LeMond has raised her batting average 186 points to .263 on the season - good for fourth on the team.

"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 38 errors in their first 25 games (most in the Big West) compared to just 23 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 eighth out of eight teams at .953 entering this week's games.

MERCY ME: Cal State Fullerton has twice played extra-inning games this season, but has yet to break out the whoopin' sticks and post a run-rule victory in 2009. The Titans, whose only shortened game this season was a five-inning win over Indiana in the season opener due to rain, haven't run-ruled an opponent since an 8-0 win at Pacific on April 19, 2008. In the "good news" column, Fullerton hasn't been run-ruled since a 9-1 loss at Cal Poly on March 29, 2008, and has only been run-ruled three times in its last 206 games.

LUPINETTI'S "GRAND" DAY: Senior Lauren Lupinetti put a "1" in the home run column in "grand" fashion at the Long Beach Invitational, slugging her first career grand slam in a win over Longwood and the first for a Titan since Kiki Munoz and Torrie Anderson hit one apiece in an 11-0 victory over UC Riverside on April 5 last season.

RECYCLED NOTES
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.