April 2, 2009
FULLERTON, CA -
BATTER UP!: After opening its Big West Conference season with a series victory over Cal Poly at home, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (14-16 overall, 2-1 in the Big West) hits the road for the first time in league play, heading to the Inland Empire to take on UC Riverside for a three-game series. The Titans and Highlanders meet in a doubleheader on Saturday (Apr. 4) at 12 p.m. and conclude with a single game on Sunday (Apr. 5), also at noon.
IN THE POLLS: After a wek's absence, Cal State Fullerton returns to the national picture, receiving seven votes in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll after its solid showing against nationally-ranked Cal Poly. The Titans, however, are unlisted in the ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches poll. UC Riverside enters the week unlisted in either top 25.
TITANS GIVE BACK: The Cal State Fullerton softball team raised \$1,346 for the Orange County chapter of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation on March 28 during its inaugural "Power in Pink" event to support breast cancer awareness and research. The Titans wish to say thank you to all those who contributed to the fund raising effort.
A LOOK AT THE HIGHLANDERS: UC Riverside enters the week with a 12-20 overall record and opened Big West play with a 1-2 mark against UC Santa Barbara last weekend... Jessica Vasser leads all regulars with a .306 average while drawing 13 walks and driving home nine runs... Four players have driven in 10-or-more runs this season while Krystal Marquez leads the way with two home runs on the year... Six different hurlers have seen action in the circle this season with Marissa Alvidrez (4-9, 4.23 ERA) and Stephanie Marshall (4-8, 4.67 ERA) leading the way... Opponents are hitting .306 against the UCR staff in 2009.
THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with UC Riverside by the count of 23-2 since 1985... the only two losses for the Titans in the series came in 2004 (3-2 at home on May 1) and 2008 (6-4 at home on April 6)... Fullerton is a perfect 11-0 on UCR's home field with the location of one game in the series unknown... the Titans have never lost a series to the Highlanders since UCR officially joined the Big West in 2002, sweeping five of the seven series in that span - including all three series held on the RIverside campus.
MILESTONE ACHIEVED: Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Michelle Gromacki became just the fifth coach in the history of the Big West Conference to reach 350 career victories as a member of the league. Now in her 10th season, Gromacki joins the likes of current and former colleagues Pete Manarino (who won a record 791 games at the helm of Long Beach State), Cal State Fullerton's own Judi Garman (581 wins), Pacific's Brian Kolze (501 wins), and former UNLV coach Shan McDonald (350).
NOT JUST FOR BREAKFAST ANYMORE: Cal State Fullerton freshman Nicole Johnson made her first career home run one to remember last weekend as she slugged her first career grand slam against No. 24 Cal Poly to cap a 2-for-3 day at the plate. It was the second grand slam by a Titan this season, joining teammate Lauren Lupinetti, who slugged one against Longwood on March 7. Of Johnson's six hits this season, three have now gone for extra bases as she also has two doubles to her name as well as a pair of multi-hit games in her last four contests, during which she is hitting .500 (5-for-10).
SAVE ME: Sophomore Ari Cervantes logged her first career save and the first for a Titans' pitcher this season on Saturday against No. 24 Cal Poly, pitching a scoreless seventh while also logging a strikeout to nail down Cal State Fullerton's 5-3 victory over the Mustangs and complete the doubleheader sweep. It was the first save for a Titans' pitcher since Jessica Doucette came on to pitch two innings to secure a 4-3 win over Cal State Northridge on April 26 of last season.
COURT IS BACK IN SESSION: After playing only defense in the team's previous 14 games due to injury, senior Courtney Martinez returned to the batting order rather successfully this past weekend against No. 24 Cal Poly. Martinez tallied a pair of hits on the weekend - both going for doubles - while also scoring a pair of runs and being hit by a pitch twice to help the Titans to a series victory. Martinez hadn't had an at bat since finishing 1-for-3 at the dish against nationally ranked California on Feb. 27.
BRUISERS: Seniors Courtney Martinez and Lauren Lupinetti have had an unusual (and, sometimes, downright painful) attraction to the ball over their careers and 2009 has been no different. Lupinetti's five HBPs this season rank second on the team while Martinez's four have her right on her heels, helping both up the career charts in that category. Both players have now been hit 26 times in their careers which ranks sixth on the all-time list, just one back of Katie Gollhardt (2005-08) and Candice Baker (2004-07) for fourth and three shy of Gina Oaks (2000-03) for third place.
SPEAKING OF ICE BAGS: Freshman Nicole Johnson leads the team with six HBPs this season and stands tied for fourth among Big West leaders entering this week's contests. Senior Lauren Lupinetti is also among the top 10, ranking in a four-way tie for sixth with her five this season while senior Courtney Martinez is one of 12 players tied for ninth with four.
EXTRA, EXTRA: The Titans have had at least one extra base hit in each of their last 14 games and in 25 of 30 games overall this season. During their 14-game streak, 33 of the team's 86 hits (38 percent) have gone for extra bases - including 12 home runs.
NO POWER SHORTAGE HERE: The Fullerton lineup continues to generate power this season as the Titans' continue to lead the Big West with 24 long balls entering this week's games - besting second place Cal Poly by two long balls and standing as one of five conference teams with double-digit home run totals. As a team, Fullerton ranks No. 43 in the nation with 0.80 home runs per contest while, individually, three Titans rank among the Big West's leaders as sophomore Torrie Anderson is third in the league with seven, junior Francesca Gonzales is tied for fifth with five, and senior Courtney Martinez is tied for seventh with four.
K.C. AND THE SUNSHINE BAND: After missing three games due to injury, sophomore K.C. Craddick returned to the Fullerton lineup with a solid series finale at the plate against No. 24 Cal Poly, going 2-for-3 with a single in her first at-bat and a double and the game-tying RBI in the fourth inning. It was the fourth multi-hit game of the season for Craddick, who stands second on the team behind only teammate Francesca Gonzales in that category.
NEW GAME, DIFFERENT HERO: In Fullerton's 14 victories this season, the Titans have had eight different players account for the game-winning RBI while 10 different Fullerton baserunners have come around to score the game-winning run.
STINGY IN THE CIRCLE: Sophomore righthander Ari Cervantes has done well to silence opposing bats this season, ranking seventh in the Big West Conference entering this week's games with a .227 average against and helping the Titans' staff to the fourth-lowest opponents batting average at .247.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?: Fullerton's pitching staff ranks third in the league in strikeouts looking with 55 on the season, trailing only Pacific (61) and Long Beach State (56). Cervantes ranks second in the league individually, as 36 of her 81 strikeout victims left with the bat on their shoulder, while Heinle is ninth in the Big West with 18 batters caught staring this season. Both hurlers also rank among the league's top 10 in strikeouts overall with Cervantes standing in a tie for fourth entering the week and Heinle at No. 10 with 58 overall.
WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: Adept at keeping fans on the edge of their seats this season, Cal State Fullerton improved to 11-5 this weekend in games decided by two runs or fewer (including a 6-2 mark in one-run games) as all three of the Titans' contests against No. 24 Cal Poly were decided by a pair of runs. The Titans are hitting .231 and slugging .403 in those contests while holding a 58-50 scoring advantage and holding opponents to a .218 average in 16 games.
"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.
"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 44 errors through 30 games (second-most in the Big West). Fullerton, which was tied for third in the Big West with a .963 fielding percentage in 2008, ranks seventh out of eight teams at .954 entering this week's games.
TURN TWO: Despite the struggles in the field, Cal State Fullerton's defense has been quite handy at getting their pitchers out of jams, ranking third in the Big West Conference with 14 double plays turned this season. The Titans are also among the nation's best at "turning two," standing at No. 24 in the nation with 0.47 per game and tied for 18th with 14 turned overall.
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 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 211 games.
TITANS TOPPLE TOP TEN FOES: Cal State Fullerton's victories over No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 3 Washington gave the Titans their first two victories over top 25 opponents this season in eight chances and the first over a ranked opponent since they took two of three against No. 17 Long Beach State last season. The win over the No. 3 Huskies mark the highest-ranked team that Fullerton has defeated since the Titans shutout No. 2 UCLA in extra innings on March 12 last season in Los Angeles.
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.
FUN WITH (JERSEY) NUMBERS: Ari Cervantes' \#77 is the highest jersey number worn by a Fullerton softball player in the history of the program... Trina Harrison is the first Titan to wear the \#28... Sarah Hahn is the first Fullerton player since Erin Kirkpatrick in 1997 to wear \#25... Adriana Martinez's \#22 is the most worn jersey number in Cal State Fullerton history, worn by 14 different players... Six current Titans have donned the number of one of Cal State Fullerton's 28 All-America players: Lauren Lupinetti's \#7 (Sue Lewis and Terri Oberg), Courtney Martinez's \#9 (Carey Hess and Julie Watson), Samantha Dollarhide's \#13 (Gina Oaks), Morgan LeMond's \#16 (Val Douglas), Francesca Gonzales' \#24 (Denise DeWalt and Kiki Munoz), and Krystal Heinle's \#33 (Ann Van Dortrecht).
DOLLARHIDE, CERVANTES EARN PLAYER OF THE WEEK ACCOLADES: Cal State Fullerton freshman Samantha Dollarhide and sophomore right-hander Ari Cervantes were named the Big West Conference Player and Co-Pitcher of the Week, respectively, on March 16 after helping the Titans to a 4-1 showing at the prestigious Judi Garman Classic over the weekend.
It is the first career conference weekly laurels for both players and the first for a Fullerton player or pitcher this season.
Dollarhide was one of the tournament's top hitters during the Judi Garman Classic, batting .538 (7-for-13) for the week while slugging a pair of doubles, her first career home run, and driving home five runs in helping the Titans to a share of the tournament title.
Cervantes duplicated her teammate's efforts in the circle, finishing as one of the tournament's top hurlers. The sophomore posted a 3-1 record and a 1.50 ERA for the week while earning the victory against a pair of top-10 teams.
Opponents hit just .176 against Cervantes on the week and finished ranked among the tournament leads in ERA (8th), opposing batting average (6th), innings pitched (2nd), and wins (t2nd).
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.