Second-Place Titans and Tigers Tussle in Stockton
April 11, 2012
FULLERTON, CA -
Cal State Fullerton at Pacific
April 14-15, 2012
Bill Simoni Field | Stockton, Calif.
Game 1: Saturday, April 14, 12 p.m. - Live Stats | Video
Game 2: Saturday, April 14, 2 p.m. - Live Stats | Video
Game 3: Sunday, April 15, 12 p.m. - Live Stats | Video
BATTER UP!: A pair of second-place teams in the Big West Conference do battle this weekend as the Cal State Fullerton softball team (16-18 overall, 4-2 in the Big West Conference) heads north for a three-game series against preseason favorite and defending champion Pacific at Bill Simoni Field in Stockton, Calif. The two teams meet in a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon (April 14) and a single game on Sunday (April 15) with play on both days beginning at noon.
IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor Pacific are listed among the top 25 polls entering this weekend's contests.
BE A FOLLOWER: Fans can keep up with the latest in Titans athletics by following us on Facebook (CSUF.Athletics), Twitter (@FullertonTitans) and Vimeo.com (vimeo.com/fullertontitans).
I NEED STATS, STAT!: Live stats will be available (barring technical difficulties) for all three of Cal State Fullerton's games this week in Northern California. Please visit the Cal State Fullerton softball schedule page at www.FullertonTitans.com to access the links or visit http://livestats.prestosports.com/pacific/.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? GOOD!: Thanks to a partnership with Arizona-based Stretch Internet, select Cal State Fullerton softball contests will be broadcast live over the Internet at FullertonTitans.com. To access the links, click on the headphones icon in the upper right-hand corner of FullertonTitans.com.
CAN YOU SEE ME NOW? EVEN BETTER!: For the seventh consecutive season, live streaming video for select Cal State Fullerton softball contests will be available (on a subscription basis) live over the Internet courtesy the Big West TV platform. For a monthly subscription of \$9.95 or an annual subscription of \$79.95, fans can catch all the exclusive action from the comfort of their home computers. For more information, please visit www.BigWest.org/TV or access the video player at www.fansonly.com/schools/bigw/allaccess/index.html.
ABOUT PACIFIC: The Tigers enter the week with a 24-13 overall record and a 4-2 mark in Big West Conference play to stand in a three-way tie for second place with Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State -- all standing one game back of UC Davis (5-1) in the standings... Pacific has a scheduled doubleheader with Santa Clara on Wednesday (April 11) before welcoming the Titans to town... the Tigers boast the league's top offense as they are hitting .311 as a team paced by Megan Hom's .432 average and Nikki Armagost's .400 clip -- ranking No. 1 and No. 2 in the league this season... reigning Big West Player of the Week, Kelsey Rodriguez, is third in the league with a .372 average to go with five home runs and 29 RBI... Nicole Matson provides the pop, hitting .333 with 11 home runs and 40 RBI -- the latter two numbers are tops in the league... Tori Shepard (9-4, 2.57 ERA, 7 saves) has seen the majority of the innings for Pacific in the circle, but Armagost (8-4, 2.35) and freshman Dani Bonnet (7-5, 3.69) have also seen significant time.
SERIES HISTORIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series against Pacific, 67-30, having won 17 of the last 21 meetings between the two programs dating back to 2005... the Tigers won the series from the Titans last year at Anderson Family Field, posting back-to-back run-rule wins in the first two games (10-0 and 8-0 in five innings) before Fullerton rebounded for an 8-1 win in the finale... it was Pacific's first series win against the Titans since 2004... Fullerton has won eight of its last nine games in Stockton, last taking two-of-three from the Tigers in 2010 thanks to a pair of one-run victories, and posted sweeps in 2006 and 2008... the Titans are 29-15 all time against Pacific on the Tigers' home field.
THANK YOU, FANS!: Friday night's doubleheader against UC Santa Barbara on April 6 drew 1,611 fans -- the second-largest non-tournament total for a Cal State Fullerton softball game in school history, trailing only the 1,643 fans who squeezed in to watch the Titans take on Southern California rival UCLA on March 25, 2003. It was only the fifth time that Fullerton has drawn over 1,000 fans to a non-tournament game and the most since 1,256 took in a Titans-Bruins contest on Feb. 7, 2007.
\#WINNING: Last weekend's series win over UC Santa Barbara marked the third time in the last four years that the Titans have opened with back-to-back Big West Conference series victories.
\#WINNINGALOT: This weekend's series will match the top two winningest active coaches in the Big West Conference as Pacific's Brian Kolze and Cal State Fullerton's Michelle Gromacki clash in Stockton. Kolze ranks second all-time in conference history with 604 career victories while posting a 604-498-1 (.548) in 19-plus years at the helm of the Tigers. Gromacki is fourth all-time with 420 career coaching victories and enters the weekend with a 420-289-1 (.592) record.
EFFICIENT: Cal State Fullerton picked a fine time break up a no-hitter as the Titans' three hits in the sixth inning (a double and two singles) against UC Santa Barbara's Shelby Wisdom were all they needed to lift them to a 2-1 victory in the opening game of the series. The three hits were the fewest in a win for Fullerton since March 7, 2009, when the Titans had three hits (two home runs and a single) in a 3-1 win over Florida International.
PITCHERS NIGHTMARE: This weekend will see two of the hottest hitters in the Big West Conference collide when the Titans' Nicole Johnson faces off against the Tigers' Kelsey Rodriguez. Since the start of conference play, Johnson leads the league with a .714 (10-for-14) average, slugging a league-best 1.429, and posting a Big West-best .810 on base percentage thanks, in part, to a league-high six walks. Rodriguez is second in the league in average (.550, 11-for-20) and slugging (1.050) while ranking third in on base percentage (.565)
RUBI-OH MY!: Sophomore Jena Rubio entered Saturday's series finale against UC Santa Barbara with just seven career hits and nary a one for extra bases. That all changed in the bottom of the sixth against the Gauchos with her side trailing by two as the Whittier native slugged her first career home run -- a line-drive, three-run shot over the left field fence with two outs -- to put the Titans ahead for good as Fullerton won its second-straight Big West Conference series with a 5-4 victory. Rubio also added an RBI single in game two to drive in four on the weekend after entering the series with just three RBI total for the season.
A SELECT GROUP: Rubio's home run was only the second by a Titan not named Nicole Johnson or Anissa Young this season, joining Morgan LeMond, who hit her first of the year on Feb. 12 against UTSA. Johnson and Young have combined to slug 12 of the team's 14 long balls this season, standing in a tie for second in the league entering the week with six home runs apiece.
LUCKY SEVEN FOR JOHNSON: Senior Nicole Johnson proved her Big West Player of the Week honor was not a one-week wonder as she continued her torrid start to conference play last weekend, finishing with hits in all three games against the Gauchos to extend her hitting streak to seven games overall. Johnson, who matched teammate Ashley Carter for the longest streak by a Titan this season and is just one game shy of her career-high, finished 5-for-9 (.556) against UCSB with four runs scored, a pair of doubles, and a home run, posting a .600 on base percentage and slugging 1.111 for the weekend. During her current streak, Johnson is batting .611 (11-for-18) with nine runs scored, four doubles, two home runs, seven RBI, and six walks, while slugging 1.167 and posting a .720 on base percentage.
SAFE HAVEN: With her performances over the weekend, Johnson has now reached base safely in 21 of her last 30 plate appearances (.700 on base percentage) and nine-straight games overall dating back to a win over Utah State on March 11 in Lakewood, Calif. She has hit safely in eight of the nine contests and reached base safely, but painfully, via a hit by pitch in the ninth game against Notre Dame on March 14.
LABAN GETS IN THE WIN COLUMN: Redshirt junior Katey Laban earned her first win of the season in the Titans' come-from-behind victory over UC Santa Barbara in the series finale, throwing 1 2/3 innings of no-hit relief with a pair of strikeouts to improve to 1-1 overall on the season. For the weekend, Laban allowed just one earned run over four total innings of work, posting a 1.75 ERA and holding the Gauchos to a .235 average. In her second start of the year, Laban allowed four hits and three runs (one earned) while walking a pair in 2 1/3 innings, but left with a 4-3 lead before UCSB rallied for a 5-4 win with two runs in the seventh.
WHO NEEDS A BULLPEN SESSION?: With the return of Katey Laban to the circle for the Titans, freshman lefty Desiree Ybarra has been given a little bit of a break, but not enough to keep the rookie hurler out of the circle for very long. Ybarra has made an appearance in each of the team's last 21 games, throwing 97 2/3 of a possible 133 innings (73.4%) with an 8-9 overall record, seven complete games, a 4.37 ERA and 53 strikeouts. At one point, she made eight consecutive starts from March 6-31, going 4-4 with a 5.29 ERA and 30 strikeouts against only nine walks.
RESPECT? PATIENCE?: Maybe a little bit of both. With a walk in her first plate appearance against the Gauchos last weekend, Johnson has now walked 12 times this season, good for third on the team, and already two more than in her previous three seasons combined (12). Prior to 2012, Johnson had not drawn more than four walks in a season as a Titan.
WE LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER: A wise minor league manager once said, "It's a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball." When the Titans have been able to pull together all those components this season, they have been nearly unstoppable, batting a robust .347 with 157 hits, a 2.63 ERA, and just 15 errors while outscoring opponents by a 118-51 count in their 16 victories this season. In its 18 defeats, however, Fullerton is batting just .214 with almost half as many hits (92), a 7.47 ERA, and 29 errors while being outscored, 146-39.
HOME IS WHERE THE POWER IS: After slugging just two home runs over its first 16 games, Cal State Fullerton's bats have been "plugged in" since its return home to Anderson Family Field. The Titans have hit 12 home runs in their last 17 games, nine of those coming within the friendly confines, including a three-home run game against Michigan State on March 4 -- the most for the Titans in a single game since they slugged four round-trippers against UC Santa Barbara on April 2, 2010.
SHEFFLER TRIPLES HER FUN: Junior Tiffany Sheffler smacked her fourth triple of the season in the series opener against Cal Poly on March 31, a total that has her ranked No. 11 in the nation this week and moved her into a tie for ninth on the school's single-season list for that category with 13 other players. A fifth triple this season will bump Sheffler all the way up to a tie for fifth while four more triples will match the school record held by Terri Oberg, who had eight triples in both the 1985 and 1986 seasons.
LET'S TURN TWO: Twin killings at the hands of the Titans' defense have been happening often in 2012 as Fullerton leads the Big West Conference (and stands tied for sixth in the NCAA) with 18 double plays entering this week's contests while also ranking No. 7 in the nation this week at 0.53 double plays per game.
WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER: Eight different Titans have tallied game-winning hits this season, led by Eliza Crawford's four this season, while eight different players have come around to score the game-winning run, paced by table-setter Ashley Carter with five.
JOHNSON WITH A TARGET ON HER BACK...: And her knee, and her thigh, and her arm... you get the picture. Senior Nicole Johnson is within striking distance of a rather dubious school record, entering this week's games with 41 career hit by pitches across her first three-plus Division I seasons. Johnson, who was bruised a team-high 15 times last season as a junior (tied for the fourth-highest total in the school's single-season record books), ranks third all-time in school history, needing just six more bruises to tie Amanda Hockett (2000-03) for second place and 15 more HBPs to match Crystal Vieyra's school record of 56 accumulated from 2005-08.
TRIPLE THE FUN: Johnson's triple against Boise State on Feb. 23 was the seventh three-bagger of her career, moving her into a five-way tie for seventh place on the school's career list alongside Missy Coombes (1987-90), Candice Baker (2004-07), Courtney Martinez (2006-09), and Sheila Holguin (2007-10). However, the senior does have some work to do to catch career leader Sue Lewis, who legged-out 20 career triples from 1981-84. Three more triples for Johnson, who slugged a career-best four triples in 2010, this season would make her only the fourth Titan with double digits in the category, joining Lewis, Terri Oberg (16 from 1985-86), and Rose Garces (10 from 1992-95).
"FASTER THAN FAST, QUICKER THAN QUICK": She is speed. Senior Adriana Martinez remains tied for seventh with Heidi Robertson (1995) on the school's single-season list at 15-for-17 overall on the season with just 12 more steals ahead of her to match Jstone Vines' record of 27 set in 1994. The 15 stolen bases, aside from being a career high, are the most for a Titan since Julie Watson stole 18 bags in 2004 and give Martinez 34 for her career -- just three back of Chenita Rogers (1986-87) for third. The career record is held by Jstone Vines (1991-94) with 59 swipes.
SPEAKING OF SPEED: Martinez isn't the only one burning up the basepaths this season as the Titans rank second in the Big West Conference with 39 stolen bases as a team -- already surpassing last season's 47-game total (32) and their highest stolen base total since 2007 when Fullerton finished with 48 stolen bases.
SPEED THAT'S TWICE AS NICE: Harris' two steals in the opener against Cal Poly on March 31 gave her 10 in 12 attempts on the season, joining teammate Adri Martinez (15-for-17) in double figures in that category this season -- something that hasn't happened since 1994 when Jstone Vines (27-for-30), Monica Bagalayos (26-for-30), and Heidi Robertson (18-for-19) each finished in double digits.
IRON WOMEN: Outfielders Ashley Carter and Leesa Harris are the only two Titans to start all 34 games at the same position on defense this season, while Carter is the only player to hold on to her same spot in the batting order, hitting leadoff in all 34 contests.
A.C. A CHILLING SIGHT FOR OPPOSING PITCHERS: Junior Ashley Carter has picked up right where she left off as a sophomore, building off her career year in 2011 and entering the week's contests with a team-high 40 hits, tied for fourth in the Big West Conference and just three hits shy of her career-high 43 hits from a year ago. Her 20 runs scored rank tied for eighth in the league and she stands eighth in the Big West with a .348 average through 34 games. Carter, who led the team with 16 multi-hit games last season en route to a career-best .312 average, leads the team in that category once again in 2012 with nine, two-hit games and a trio of career-high three-hit performances against Colorado State (Feb. 10), Bakersfield (Feb. 17), and Utah State (March 11).