Titans Open Big West on the Coast at UCSB

March 30, 2011

FULLERTON, CA -

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PLAY BALL: Now at the "halfway" point of its 2011 season, the Cal State Fullerton softball team hits the road for its Big West Conference opener this weekend as the Titans take on UC Santa Barbara on the coast. The two will battle in a doubleheader on Saturday (April 2) and wrap up the series on Sunday (April 3). Both day's games will begin at 12 p.m.

CAL STATE FULLERTON SLAP HITS
&\#149; Ari Cervantes was named the Big West Conference Co-Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season after going 2-0 without allowing an earned run over the weekend...

&\#149; Head Coach Michelle Gromacki needs just eight more wins to reach 400 for her career...

&\#149; When the Titans travel to Santa Barbara this weekend, they will be playing their first true road game of the season and their first game away from the friendly confines of Anderson Family Field since March 12 against UCLA in Lakewood, CA...

&\#149; Fullerton's 11 wins this season are just three shy of all of last season when the Titans finished 14-39...

&\#149; Cal State Fullerton will open Big West Conference play against UC Santa Barbara for the fifth time in the last eight years, winning all of the previous four series between the two schools - three of them via a sweep...

&\#149; Senior Torrie Anderson's first home run of the year against Canisius not only put the Titans ahead for good, but moved her into sole possession of sixth place on the school's all-time list with the 26th of her career...

&\#149; Among national leaders, Ashley Carter ranks ninth with 0.35 sacrifices per game; Nicole Johnson is 13th with 0.35 HBPs per game; Ari Cervantes is 14th with 1.16 walks per seven innings.

IN THE POLLS: Neither the Titans nor Gauchos are listed in either the USA Today/NFCA or ESPN.com/USA Softball national coaches polls this week.

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.

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 championships.

BELATED CONGRATS: Math majors we are not, but congratulations nonetheless to the Titans' softball program, which clinched the 1,300th victory in the history of the sport on campus with its 3-2 walk-off win against Oregon State on March 6. Fullerton is now 1,305-638-5 (.675) in 31-plus seasons of softball.

ABOUT UC SANTA BARBARA: The Gauchos enter the weekend with a 12-16 after being swept in a doubleheader by No. 7 UCLA on Tuesday... UCSB has lost its last seven straight dating back to a 7-0 win over Wisconsin, including a three-game sweep at the hands of No. 5 Arizona State over the weekend... McKenzie Kane leads the offense with a .347 average to go with 34 hits and 13 runs scored... as a team, the Gauchos are collectively hitting .271 and leads the Big West Conference with 37 doubles and is tops in the Big West in fielding percentage (.969)... Freshman Andriana Collins has been thrown into the fire and performed admirably, posting an 8-8 record with a 4.00 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 106.2 innings... Krista Cobb (4-8, 5.88) has also seen significant time in the cirlce for UCSB this season.

SERIES NOTES: Cal State Fullerton has dominated the series with UC Santa Barbara, winning 100 of the 109 all-time meetings dating back to 1980... the Titans have won six straight in the series, sweeping the Gauchos by the scores of 10-5 (5 inn.), 12-3 (6 inn.), and 5-3 (9 inn.) in Fullerton last season... since the Big West Conference began sponsoring the sport in 1986, the Titans have lost only two series to UCSB (2004 & 2008)... Fullerton is 47-5 all-time against Santa Barbara on the Gauchos' home field, winning its last six straight and 13 of 15 all-time under the direction of Head Coach Michelle Gromacki.

THE BIG WEST... FOR OPENERS: Cal State Fullerton is 17-8 all-time in Big West Conference openers, but is just 4-3 in its last seven such contests... Fullerton is 11-3 in conference-opening games at home compared to just 6-5 on the road... since switching to a three-game series format in 1999, Fullerton is 26-10 in 12 conference-opening series, opening against UCSB four times in that span and winning all three series (3-0 in 2005, 2-1 in 2006, 3-0 in 2007, and 3-0 in 2010)... the Titans have also opened Big West Conference play against the Gauchos three other times in 1991 (2-0), 1992 (1-1), and 1996 (2-0).

WAIT... WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE HAVE TO LEAVE HOME?: When the Titans travel to Santa Barbara for this weekend's Big West Conference openers, they will be playing their first true road game of the season and their first contest away from home since falling to No. 9 UCLA on March 12 in Lakewood, CA. In the month of March, Fullerton has played 15 of 16 games within the friendly confines of Anderson Family Field, posting an 8-7 mark in those contests after finishing 3-8 in neutral site contests this season. The Titans, who won eight home games all season in 2010 (the fewest in the history of the program), have nine home games remaining in 2011 (minus any possible postseason contests) consisting of Big West Conference series against Cal Poly (April 16-17), Pacific (April 30-May 1), and Cal State Northridge (May 13-14).

CERVANTES NETS SECOND WEEKLY BIG WEST HONOR: Senior right-hander Ari Cervantes was named the Big West Conference Co-Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season after posting a pair of stifling performances in the circle over the weekend. Cervantes, who also earned weekly honors from the conference on March 7, allowing just one unearned run on seven hits while holding the opposition to a .146 batting average over the weekend, pushing her pitching record back over the .500 mark to 9-8 on the season. In her first start on the weekend, Cervantes held the Ohio University bats to just three hits while striking out six. She followed that up with her second shutout this season of Cal State Bakersfield (and her third overall this year), allowing just one runner to reach second in a four-hitter. She retired eight-straight at one point, facing just four over the minimum and finishing with five strikeouts.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR?: Cervantes is surely making a case for herself. After going just 6-19 overall in the circle last season, the senior right-hander has turned things around to rank among the league's top hurlers as the start of confernce play looms on the horizon. Cervantes, who enters the weekend 9-8 overall, ranks third in the league in ERA (2.39), fifth in opponents batting average (.244), first in innings pitched (114.1), sixth in strikeouts (67), tied for third in strikeouts looking (22), and second in wins.

JOHNSON COMES THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH: Junior Nicole Johnson paced the Titans' offense over the weekend to the tune of a .417 average, .833 slugging percentage, and a .462 on base percentage, but it was her play in crunch time that helped Fullerton to a 3-1 week. In the opener against Ohio, her triple in the sixth brought home pinch-runner Jena Rubio with the tying run and Johnson would eventually score on an error on the throw to the plate in the Titans' 2-1 win. Later in the day against Canisius, she was hit by a pitch to prolong the second inning and eventually plated the tying run on Torrie Anderson's game-winning three-run bomb in a 6-4 win. Her heroics spilled over into the next day as she doubled and eventually scored the game-winning run in a 1-0 shutout victory over Cal State Bakersfield.

MULTI-HIT MASTER: Johnson ranks third on the team with five multi-hit games this season (just one back of senior K.C. Craddick and sophomore Ashley Carter), but enters this weekend's Big West Conference openers as the only Titan player who has logged more than two hits in a game this season. Johnson finished 3-for-4 in the weekend finale against Cal State Bakersfield on Sunday and also has a 4-for-4 performance in the second game of a doubleheader agaisnt Troy on March 8. In addition to Craddick, Carter, and Johnson, eight other Fullerton players have combined for 17 multi-hit games, but none with more than two hits.

TRIPLE YOUR PLEASURE: Johnson also smacked her first two triples of the season this past weekend, giving her six for her career and putting her just one three-bagger shy of moving into a five-way tie for seventh on the schools all-time list along with Sheila Holguin (2007-10), Candice Baker (2004-07), Courtney Martinez (2006-09), and Missy Coombes (1987-90). Johnson joined teammate Ashley Carter among the Big West Conference's leaders in the category, moving into a tie for second entering this week.

WAITING A LONG TIME FOR THIS: Redshirt freshman Tish Dedeaux may have just hit her way into a spot in the Titans' lineup following a successful debut at the plate over the weekend. After going 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter against Fordham on Feb. 25, Dedeaux tallied her first career hit against Canisius on Saturday and followed that up with her first career game-winning RBI against Cal State Bakersfield on Sunday, driving home Nicole Johnson for the only run in a 1-0 Fullerton win. Dedeaux, who missed all of her true freshman year in 2010 due to injury, also walked twice and added a sacrifice on the weekend in her first three career starts as the Titans' designated player.

LABAN'S SOLID WEEKEND: After throwing in just 19 innings all season, redshirt sophomore Katey Laban saw significant time in the circle this past weekend in relief, helping the Titans to a 3-1 week. She tallied her first career save on Saturday against Canisius, striking out two over three hitless innings in Fullerton's 6-4 victory. On Sunday, in the second game of a doubleheader against Cal State Bakersfield, Laban was tagged with the hard-luck loss, allowing just two earned on six hits over seven innings out of the bullpen striking out three. She finished the weekend with a 1.40 ERA and a .167 average against in 10 innings of work, lowering her overall season ERA nearly two full runs to 4.83 in the process.

AND THE HITS (BY PITCH) JUST KEEP ON COMING: Yet another bruise for junior Nicole Johnson and third place on the career hit by pitch list is all hers. Johnson, who was hit for the ninth time this season against Canisius to help key Fullerton's comeback against the Golden Griffins, now ranks third on the school's all-time list with 31 HBPs, jumping past Courtney Martinez (2006-09) for the spot and standing 16 shy of Amanda Hockett for No. 2 all time. Johnson leads the team, and stands tied for the top spot in the Big West, with her nine HBPs this season - standing just three shy of entering Fullerton's single-season chart for a second time. Crystal Vieyra (2005-08) holds the school's career record, and stands fourth in the NCAA all time, with 56 HBPs during her stay at Cal State Fullerton while Hockett holds the single-season record at 20 in 2002.

JUST ENOUGH: Fullerton's four hits in its 1-0 victory over Cal State Bakersfield proved to be just enough to beat the Roadrunners as the Titans tied their mark for fewest hits in a win this season. In a 5-1 victory over Southern Miss on March 5, Fullerton had just four hits, but two of them left the yard as the Titans improved to 2-1 at the DeMarini Invitational.

LET'S TURN TWO: An opportunistic Titans' defense turned three key double plays in their four games over the weekend, giving them 11 overall on the season - good for second in the Big West (UC Santa Barbara leads with 13) and No. 25 in the nation at 0.42 per game entering the week.

IT'S NOT THE NEW FENCE: The outfield fences at Anderson Family Field, literally, underwent a lift in the off season, raised to a height of six feet from their previous four feet that had been the norm since the field was redone prior to 2001. However, it seems that the new height hasn't stopped the Titans' sluggers as seven of the team's 10 home runs this season have come at home - three more than the entire non-conference home schedule from 2010 and almost half of the 16 long balls hit at Anderson Family Field in all of last season.

HARRIS PICKING UP STEAM: Speedy freshman Leesa Harris has found her groove at the plate over the last three weeks, collecting six of her seven hits on the year over the team's last 10 games, batting .400 (6-for-15) with a pair of runs scored, four walks, and four stolen bases over that span. Harris has a .500 on base percentage in limited plate appearances this season, which is tops on the team, and is a perfect 4-for-4 in steals in 2011.

NOTHING FOR FREE: Opponents have made the Titans work for their runs off free passes this season as, of the team's 66 walks this season, only 18 have come around to score (27 percent) while half (24) of the remaining 48 have been stranded in scoring position.

SETTING THE TABLE: Cal State Fullerton's leadoff hitters have done a solid job getting things started this season, reaching base 38 percent (63 times in 167 opportunities) of the time, compared to just 29 percent (54-for-184) for the opposition. Senior K.C. Craddick has led the way for the Titans' offense, reaching base as the lead-off hitter in 11-of-19 attempts (.579) and is followed very closely by freshman Lauren Mario, who has reached in 12-of-26 (.462) opportunities, junior Nicole Johnson, who has reached 44 percent of the time (7-of-16), and junior Adri Martinez, who has reached in 10-of-23 tries (.435).

"FASTER THAN FAST, QUICKER THAN QUICK": They are speed. Cal State Fullerton enters the weekend with 23 stolen bases in 26 games thus far this season, well-ahead of last year's pace that didn't see the Titans swipe their 23rd base until game 32 against San Diego State on March 31. Fullerton enters the week ranked third in the Big West Conference in steals and has seven players with at least one stolen base this season.

WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER: Talk about timing. Eight different players have driven home the game-winning run for the Titans this season, including a pair from senior K.C. Craddick, while five different players have also come around to score game-winning runs, including a team-best four from junior Nicole Johnson.