April 14, 2011
FULLERTON, CA -
PLAY BALL: Fresh off its second-consecutive Big West Conference series win, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (15-17 overall, 4-2 in the Big West) returns home for the first time in more than two weeks, playing host to a three-game series against Cal Poly this weekend at Anderson Family Field. The Titans and Mustangs open with a doubleheader on Saturday (April 16) and close with a single game on Sunday (April 17). Games on both days begin at 12 p.m.
IN THE POLLS: Neither the Titans nor Mustangs 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.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?: Thanks to partnership with Arizona-based Stretch Internet, all three of this weekend's games against Cal Poly can be heard live over the Internet with veteran play-by-play voice Mike Martinez providing the call from Anderson Family Field. Links to the games can be accessed by clicking on the headphones icon in the upper right-hand corner of FullertonTitans.com.
TITANS TO HOST THIRD-ANNUAL "POWER IN PINK" DAY: The Cal State Fullerton softball team will host its third-annual "Power in Pink" Day to support breast cancer research and awareness during Sunday's series finale with Cal Poly. Both the Titans and Mustangs will be wearing pink in support of the event for the second time in the three-year history of the event at Cal State Fullerton, as the two programs met in the inaugural event in 2009. A silent auction of the Titans' game-worn pink jerseys and a special "Pink Day" blanket will be held throughout the day with the proceeds from the auction as well as donations benefitting the National Foundation for Cancer Research. Fans are encouraged to join the Titans and Mustangs in wearing pink to show their support of the cause while Sunday's first pitch will be performed by guest of honor, and Cal State Fullerton softball alumna, Kim Powers, who was a catcher on the Titans' 1991-92 squads.
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 1,309-640-5 (.671) in 31-plus seasons of softball.
ABOUT CAL POLY: Preseason conference favorite Cal Poly has struggled to just a 6-26 overall record and a 2-4 mark in Big West play in 2011, losing 13 of 17 since the beginning of March against one of the nation's top schedules... the Mustangs have played 10 games against the top 25 teams in the nation, including five contests against top 10-ranked squads... Cal Poly is coming off a sweep by Central Coast rival UC Santa Barbara last weekend, falling by the scores of 10-2, 12-2 (5 inn.), and 5-2... "Jill of all Trades" Anna Cahn provides the punch to the Mustangs' offense (.311 average, 10 home runs, and 20 RBI) while Nora Sobczak leads the team with a .373 average this season... Rebecca Patton has started 20 of the team's 32 games in the circle, posting a 4-14 overall record and a 4.82 ERA, striking out 84 in a little over 113 innings... Cahn (1-8, 4.73) and Trista Thomas (1-4, 4.85) have also seen time in the circle... Cal Poly is batting just .224 on the season and trails in the scoring column, 188-80, while the pitching staff sports a 4.79 ERA with opponents hitting .300 against the team.
SERIES NOTES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Cal Poly, 31-23, including a 19-9 mark at home against the Mustangs, but the Titans have lost the last four consecutive meetings - and nine of the last 12 dating back to the 2007 season... In the two team's last meeting in Fullerton, the Titans took two-of-three from Cal Poly with wins of 2-0 and 5-3 in the first two games before the Mustangs battled back for a 7-5 win in the finale... Since Cal Poly joined the Big West Conference for the 1997 season, the series between the two schools is tied, 22-22, with the Titans holding a 14-8 advantage on their home field.
TITANS TOP 2010 MARKS: Fullerton's two wins over UC Riverside this past weekend gave the Titans their 14th and 15th wins on the season, matching and surpassing their win total from all of 2010 (14-39 overall) while giving them one more road victory (4) than they had last season (3). Fullerton is off to an identical 4-2 start in conference play as a year ago against the same two opponents (UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside), but the Titans are looking to reverse their fortunes in 2011 against Cal Poly after the Mustangs swept them in a three-game series in San Luis Obispo as part of a six-game conference losing streak and a season-ending skid that sent Fullerton to losses in 11 of its final 16 games.
BIG WEEKEND FOR TITANS' OFFENSE: The Titans didn't forget their bats on the bus during last weekend's trip to UC Riverside as Fullerton hit a robust .326 as a team against the Highlanders, which entered the contests among the bottom half in most major pitching categories. The Titans out-hit UCR, 29-18, on the weekend, slugging three home runs and five extra-base hits overall and raised their overall team average 10 points to .251 on the year. In conference play, Fullerton is hitting even better, batting .273 as a team in six games - tied for third in the league.
LITTLE LABOR FOR LABAN IN SOPHOMORE'S BIG WEEKEND: Redshirt sophomore Katey Laban had a big weekend in the circle in Riverside, posting a 2-0 record with a 0.70 ERA against the Highlanders, allowing just one earned run over 10 innings of work, scattering just seven hits and holding UCR to a .194 average in her two appearances. Laban, who improved to 3-4 overall on the year with the victories, further lowered her season ERA by almost a full run to 3.76 on the year while winning each of her last three decisions and has posted just a 1.55 ERA in 27 innings over her last six outings.
MARTINEZ STILL MASHING: After opening Big West Conference play with a career-high tying three hits against UC Santa Barbara, junior Adriana Martinez has refused to cool off at the plate, leading the Titans by hitting .625 (5-for-8) against UC Riverside last weekend with three runs scored and a pair of RBI. It's just the latest strong performance for Martinez, who has hit safely in seven of her last eight contests, batting .500 (12-for-24) over that span with three multi-hit games, with the 12 hits accounting for over half of her 23 hits overall this season. Martinez, who was hitting just .215 at the start of the Big West schedule and is batting a team-high .500 (9-for-18) in conference play thus far, has raised her average better than 60 points to .277 overall in 2011, while her 23 hits are a career high and rank fourth on the team this season.
WHO TURNED ON THE A.C.?: After a rare bout of cold weather blew through Southern California last week, air conditioning was the last thing on everybody's minds. However, the Titans' own "A.C." has been on the minds of Big West pitchers to start the conference schedule as sophomore Ashley Carter has been pesky at the top of Fullerton's order. Carter is hitting .400 (8-for-20) since the start of Big West play with five walks, two runs scored, and a pair of RBI to help set the Titans' offensive table. Carter has hit safely in her last four games - including three multi-hit performances to raise her team-best total to nine this year - raising her average 40 points to .307 this season while ranking a close second on the team with 27 hits overall.
SUPER MARIO: Freshman Lauren Mario has often one-upped the opposition with her extra-base hit ability this season as her five doubles, three triples, and four home runs are tops on the team in each category and has her slugging .510 overall this season - good for seventh among Big West Conference hitters. Her five doubles rank just outside the top 10 in the league this season while she stands tied for third in triples and tied for seventh in home runs. Mario, who hit .400 (4-for-10) with a triple, a home run, two runs scored, and three RBI last weekend at UC Riverside, also ranks tied for 10th in the league in walks (15) and just outside the top 10 in runs scored (17).
THIS IS GETTING TO BE A HABIT: If it seems like she's always on base, it may just be because she always is. Lauren Mario reached base safely for the seventh consecutive game in the series finale against UC Riverside, the third-longest streak for a Titan this season behind her own team-best 12-game streak from Feb. 25-March 12 and K.C. Craddick's eight-game string from Feb. 27-March 8. During her most recent stretch, Mario has hit safely in five of the seven contests, including a pair of triples and a home run, while walking three times to up her team-high total to 15 this season (the only Fullerton player in double figures in that category in 2011). Overall, she has reached base safely in 24 of her 31 appearances this season, 17 via a hit and seven via a base on balls.
WE'RE GOING STREAKING: Junior Nicole Johnson carries a team-high five-game hitting streak into the weekend against Cal Poly, batting a solid .350 (7-for-20) with a home run and three runs scored in that stretch. It is the second-longest hitting streak for a Titan this season, trailing only K.C. Craddick's eight-game streak from Feb. 27-March 8, and is one of three active hitting streaks of four games or longer (Adri Martinez and Ashley Carter).
"BOOM" GOES THE DYNAMITE: Senior Torrie Anderson's second home run of the season in game two of the series against UC Riverside upped her career total to 27, placing her in a tie for fifth place all-time with Amanda Hockett (2000-03) and just two back of Monica Lucatero (1999-02) for fourth place. Anderson, who leads the team with 16 RBI this season despite hitting just .173, also ranks just two RBI shy of the all-time top 10, quickly closing in on All-American Kiki Munoz, who had 99 runs batted in from 2005-08.
MORE "BOOM" FOR YOUR BUCK: Speaking of the long ball, Anderson was one of three Titans to leave the yard last weekend in Riverside as she was joined by teammates Lauren Mario and Ariel Tsuchiyama (on her 20th birthday no less) to give Fullerton four home runs in its last four games and 14 home runs overall on the season - a total that ranks fifth in the league entering this weekend's contests. However, unless the pace picks up, the Titans will have one of their lowest home run outputs in a long time as Fullerton has not hit fewer than 20 home runs in a season since 1994 (11). The Titans led the Big West with 36 home runs last season and has had 30 or more balls leave the yard in each of the last five years.
GO THREE: Mario's third triple of the year in the first game of the series against UC Riverside gave the Titans' their eighth three-bagger of the season, matching their entire total from all of 2010 and the most for a Fullerton squad since the 2008 team legged-out 11 triples - including five from Sheila Holguin, a total that ranked fifth on the school's single-season list. Mario, sophomore Ashley Carter, and junior Nicole Johnson each have multiple triples on the year - the most since five players on the 2006 squad (Amanda Kamekona and Katie Gollhardt with four and Ashley Van Boxmeer, Kiki Munoz, and Courtney Martinez with two apiece) finished with two or more en route to 16 triples for the Titans that season.
NOTHING BY HER: Senior first baseman K.C. Craddick has always been one of the league's top defenders and is at it once again, leading the Big West in chances (282) and putouts (271) while standing atop the list among those players in the conference with at least 100 chances with a .996 fielding percentage. Her total chances are 19 better than UC Santa Barbara's Lauren Boser (263) and her putouts are 20 more than Boser in second place while she has also been part of nine double plays this season (tied for fourth). It is just anothr example of the fine fielding Fullerton fans have come to expect from the Yorba Linda native who, if the season ended today, would rank fourth all-time on the school's career list at .991 (12 errors in 1,319 chances) and enters the weekend ranked sixth in career chances and fifth in career putouts - one of only seven players in the history of the program with more than 1,000 career putouts.
BEHIND THE MASK: Speaking of defense, sophomore catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama has also stepped up her game behind the plate in only her second Division I season, ranking fourth in the Big West (minimum 100 chances) with a .993 fielding percentage (one error in 143 chances) and cutting way back on the number of passed balls charged to her, ranking among the league's best with only two compared to 12 a season ago. She has thrown out six would-be base stealers this season (tied for seventh in the league) and has helped guide a pitching staff that has walked a league-low 71 batters in 2011. In almost two seasons, Tsuchiyama has committed just two errors in 326 chances behind the plate for a career .994 fielding percentage - a total that would rank first among all defenders with at least 100 chances in school history.
S.O.S. - SAVE OUR SCORERS: It's been a problem that has plagued them all year as the Titans have had a nasty habit of leaving runs on the basepaths in 2011. Fullerton is hitting just .249 as a team with runners in scoring position thus far and has left 123 of their 193 runners left on base (63.7%) at second base or closer this season. Defensively, the Titans have also done a solid job at preventing opposing teams from touching home plate as, through 32 games thus far, they have stranded 106 of 190 "enemy" baserunners in scoring position (55.8%) this season.
NOTHING FOR FREE: Opponents have made the Titans work for their runs off free passes this season as, of the team's 79 walks this season, only 19 have come around to score (24 percent) while just over half (31) of the remaining 60 baserunners have been stranded in scoring position.
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 10-10 overall, ranks second in the league in ERA (2.33), sixth in opponents batting average (.241), second in innings pitched (141.0), tied for sixth in strikeouts (81), third in strikeouts looking (30), and standing as one of only five Big West hurlers with double-digit wins this season.
EXTRA-INNING MAGIC: Cal State Fullerton's nine-inning win over UC Santa Barbara in the series finale on April 3 improved the Titans to 3-1 in extra innings this season, helped by some masterful performances by senior right-hander Ari Cervantes, who is 3-0 in those games with a 1.40 ERA, allowing just five earned on 16 hits in 25 innings pitched. The nine-inning complete-game was the longest of the year for Cervantes and her longest since going 10 innings in a 4-3 win at Pacific last season on May 1.
BONUS SOFTBALL: Fullerton's four extra-inning games this season are the most for the Titans since they had the same number in 2009 and their 3-1 mark this season improved them to 121-76-4 (.612) all time in extra-inning contests dating back to the program's inception in 1980. The nine-inning win over UC Santa Barbara was Fullerton's longest game since it played 10 innings at Pacific on May 1 last season when they improved to 51-27-4 (.646) in games of 10 innings or more with a 4-3 victory over the Tigers.
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 14 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 home in all of last season.
THAT'S QUITE A BRUISE YOU'VE GOT THERE: It was a relatively painless weekend for junior Nicole Johnson, who finished with three hits against UC Riverside, but avoided being hit by a pitch in a game for the first time since the series finale at UC Santa Barbara on April 3. Johnson, who has been hit 10 times this season to rank tied for third in the Big West Conference in that category, has a solid hold on third place on the school's all-time list with 32 HBPs, standing 15 shy of Amanda Hockett for No. 2 all time. Johnson's 10 HBPs this season are just two shy of entering Fullerton's single-season chart for a second time, but far behind career leader, Crystal Vieyra (2005-08), who holds the school's career record, and stands fourth in the NCAA all time, with 56 HBPs during her stay at Cal State Fullerton. The single-season mark is held by Hockett, who was hit 20 times in 2002.
"FASTER THAN FAST, QUICKER THAN QUICK": They are speed. Cal State Fullerton enters the weekend with 24 stolen bases in 32 games thus far this season, ahead of last year's pace that didn't see the Titans swipe their 24th base until game 34 against UC Santa Barbara on April 2. Fullerton enters the week ranked fourth in the Big West Conference in steals and has eight players with at least one stolen base this season.
WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER: Talk about timing. Nine different players have driven home the game-winning run for the Titans this season while seven different players have also come around to score game-winning runs, including a team-best five from junior Nicole Johnson.