First-Place Titans Return Home to Host Pacific

April 15, 2009

FULLERTON, CA -

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BATTER UP!: With a share of first place in the Big West Conference in its back pocket, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (19-17 overall, 7-2 in the Big West) returns home to host a three-game series against long-time rival Pacific this weekend at Anderson Family Field. The series kicks off on Saturday (April 18) with a doubleheader beginning at noon and concludes with a single game on Sunday (April 19) at 12 p.m.

IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor Pacific are ranked entering this week's contests.

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

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? GOOD!: All three games of Cal State Fullerton's series with Pacific 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 all three of this weekend's home contests (on a subscription basis) by logging on to BigWest.org/TV and signing up.

A LOOK AT THE TIGERS: Pacific enters the weekend with a 16-24 overall record and a 1-8 mark in Big West play after losing two-of-three to UC Riverside last weekend... Pacific has lost 11 of its last 12 dating back to back-to-back wins over Princeton and Santa Clara at the Stanford Tournament on March 21-22... seven of their last nine contests have been decided by two runs or fewer... Nicole Matson leads the team in hitting at .385, helping the Tigers to a .287 average as a team - third in the Big West... Six hitters overall are hitting better than .280 on the year... three pitchers have seen significant action in the circle for the Tigers: Chelsea Engle (7-10, 3.72 ERA), Heidi Helberg (5-5, 3.44 ERA), and Gabby McDaniel (2-8, 2.74).

THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Pacific, 61-27, sweeping the series from the Tigers in Stockton last season... The Titans are 34-13 against the Tigers at home and has won 10 of the last 12 contests in Fullerton dating back to 2001... Cal State Fullerton took two of three from Pacific in the last meeting at home in 2007, winning the first two games by the scores of 2-0 and 5-1 before falling in the finale, 5-4.

GONZALES NAMED CO-PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cal State Fullerton junior Francesca Gonzales was named the Big West Conference Co-Player of the Week on Monday morning, sharing the honor with Cal Poly's Krysten Cary. It is the first career conference weekly honor for the transfer from Mt. San Antonio College and the second for a Titan this season, joining teammate Samantha Dollarhide, who earned weekly laurels on March 16. For more on Gonzales' week, see below...

"FRAN"-TASTIC: Junior Francesca Gonzales had herself quite a weekend in northern California, hitting a team-best .545 with three runs scored and five RBI to lead the Titans to a sweep of UC Davis. Gonzales, who is currently riding a four-game hitting streak, raised her batting average 24 points in the process to a team-best .327 on the year while her two home runs gave her seven on the season - tied for the team lead with teammate Torrie Anderson and standing as the third-best total in the Big West this season.

TITANS ABOVE THE BOARD: Cal State Fullerton's sweep put the Titans above the .500 mark for the first time since Feb. 20 and they are two games over .500 for the first time since they were 3-1 on Feb. 14.

"LET'S GROOVE TONIGHT": Since starting the season with just five wins in their first 16 games, the Titans have found their winning groove, currently riding a season-high four-game winning streak and posting a 14-6 record over their last 20 games. In that stretch, Fullerton is hitting .262 as a team while holding an 82-60 scoring advantage and slugging seven home runs. The pitching staff has also gotten stronger, posting a 2.18 ERA (including an 11-4 mark and a 1.99 ERA by Ari Cervantes) and holding opponents to a .222 batting average.

BREAK OUT THE BROOMS: Cal State Fullerton's sweep of UC Davis marked its first sweep of a conference opponent this season and its first since taking all three from Pacific on the road on April 19-20 of last season. It also continued an impressive run against the Aggies on their home field as Fullerton improved to 9-0 all-time at La Rue Field in the 15-game history of the series.

DID I HEAR A FIVER IN THERE?: Cal State Fullerton scored in bunches this past weekend at UC Davis, needing just three, five-run innings in the first two games of the series to take both ends of the doubleheader and clinch its third consecutive series win to start the league slate. Of the seven innings that the Titans scored a run in, four of those featured multiple runs - including a four-run outburst in the sixth inning of game three that proved to be the difference. Fullerton has made a habit of having big innings this season, scoring multiple runs in 27 of a possible 66 scoring innings - a 41 percent clip.

TITANS OUT OF THE GATES QUICKLY: Fullerton's success in Davis not only propelled the Titans to the top of the Big West standings, but it gave the Titans their best nine-game start in conference play since 2007 when they also opened the season with the same mark.

DOUBLE-DIGIT FUN: Fullerton's 10 runs scored in the opener against UC Davis marked only the second time this season that the Titans have reached double figures in the runs column and the first since putting up 10 runs against Longwood in a 10-9 extra-inning victory on March 7. Cal State Fullerton also banged out 10 and 12 hits in games one and three, respectively, against the Aggies, marking the third and fourth times that the Titans have put up double digits in the hits column. The 12 hits are just one shy of the season high of 13 set against NC State on Feb. 19.

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING: The Titans' offense has broken out with seven or more hits in each of their last seven games and are averaging nine hits per contest over that span. Dating back to the third game of the series against No. 24 Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton's team batting average has jumped 30 points to .230 on the season while batting .300 (63-for-210), with six home runs and 11 doubles while outscoring the opposition 38-20 in that stretch.

ADRIANA'S ON THE BOARD: Freshman Adriana Martinez became the latest Fullerton rookie to put a "1" in the hit column as she collected her first career base hit in game two of the series against UC Davis. Martinez reached on an infield single in the fifth inning of Fullerton's 5-4 victory over the Aggies after coming in to run for Nicole Johnson and scoring as part of a five-run fourth inning.

BIG TIME IN THE BIG WEST: Cal State Fullerton's offense has feasted on Big West pitching thus far in 2009, batting .288 as a squad to stand second in the conference and featuring four regulars batting .300 or better. Senior Lauren Lupinetti has been the best Titan hitter in conference play, hitting .440 with six runs scored and four RBI while K.C. Craddick (.429), Francesca Gonzales (.414), and Torrie Anderson (.300) have all done well at the plate. The Titans have nearly doubled-up conference competition in the scoring column (45-23) while the pitching staff has posted a 2.16 ERA and held opponents to a .223 average in nine contests.

YEOWCH!: Fullerton batters were hit by a pitch four times in last week's series opener at UC Davis, tying a season high set earlier in game two of the Titans' conference series against No. 24 Cal Poly. Cal State Fullerton, which stands tied for fourth in the Big West with 28, has had at least one batter hit by a pitch in 15 of 36 games, including multiple batters hit in seven of those contests.

POWER SHORTAGE: Cal State Fullerton's pitching staff has done well to keep the ball in the yard as of late, holding opponents to without a home run in the last 45 2/3 innings dating back to the final game of the series against No. 24 Cal Poly. Thats a tremendous feat for a Titans squad that has allowed 21 home runs this season - a total that ranks as the second most in the Big West Conference.

K.C. AND THE SUNSHINE BAND: After having her season-best three-game hitting streak snapped on April 5 at UC Riverside, sophomore K.C. Craddick returned to the business of base hits in Davis, tallying a hit in all three contests against the Aggies to begin a new streak. Craddick is batting .500 (5-for-10) in her most recent streak to raise her batting average 34 points to .222 on the season. Since returning to the lineup after missing three games due to injury, Craddick has been one of the team's most consistent hitters, batting .429 (9-for-21) over her last seven games with a pair of doubles, two runs scored, and three RBI.

LUPINETTI JUST KEEPS ON HITTING: Despite having her seven-game hitting streak snapped in game two of the series in Davis, senior Lauren Lupinetti picked right back up at the plate in game three, going 2-for-4 with a run scored to help the Titans to the 7-2 win. In her last nine games, Lupinetti is hitting a robust .440 (11-for-25) with three multi-hit games, six runs scored, and four RBI. In the process, Lupinetti has raised her batting average almost 70 points to .267 - ranking third among Fullerton regulars.

"CAVEAT CURSOR": Alright... our Latin is a little rusty so, scholars, please bear with us. Lupinetti has also found a rhythm behind the plate defensively, throwing out the last four runners trying to steal against her and 10 of her last 21 (48 percent) overall. This coming after a slow start that saw her erase just one of the first 31 would-be base stealers this season.

EXTRA, EXTRA: The Titans have had at least one extra base hit in each of their last 20 games and in 31 of 36 games overall this season. During their 20-game streak, 47 of the team's 142 hits (33 percent) have gone for extra bases - including 17 home runs.

NEW GAME, DIFFERENT HERO: In Fullerton's 19 victories this season, the Titans have had nine different players account for the game-winning RBI while 11 different Fullerton baserunners have come around to score the game-winning run.

NO POWER SHORTAGE HERE: The Fullerton lineup continues to generate power this season as the Titans' continue to lead the Big West with 29 long balls entering this week's games - besting second place Cal Poly by six long balls and standing as one of five conference teams with double-digit home run totals. As a team, Fullerton ranks No. 45 in the nation with 0.81 home runs per contest while, individually, three Titans rank among the Big West's leaders as sophomore Torrie Anderson and junior Francesca Gonzales rank tied for third in the league with seven while senior Courtney Martinez is one of five players tied for seventh with four.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?: Fullerton's pitching staff ranks third in the league in strikeouts looking with 61 on the season, trailing only Pacific (72) and Long Beach State (65). Cervantes ranks third in the league individually, as 38 of her 93 strikeout victims left with the bat on their shoulder, while Heinle is ninth in the Big West with 22 batters caught staring this season. Both hurlers also rank among the league's top 10 in strikeouts overall with Cervantes standing fifth entering the week and Heinle 10th with 67 overall.

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 tied for second in the Big West Conference with 17 double plays turned this season. The Titans are also among the nation's best at "turning two," standing at No. 15 in the nation with 0.47 per game and tied for 18th with 17 turned overall.

MARTINEZ BRUSIES HER WAY TO THIRD: Senior Courtney Martinez was hit by a pitch for the 28th time in her career last weekend in Davis, moving her into sole posession of fourth on the school's all-time list, just one shy of Gina Oaks (2000-03) in third place. Lauren Lupinetti is also among the school's top 10 list, ranking seventh with 25 in her career.

SPEAKING OF ICE BAGS: Freshman Nicole Johnson leads the team with nine HBPs this season (including three last weekend against UC Davis) and stands tied for third among Big West leaders entering this week's contests. Senior Courtney Martinez is tied for fifth with her six HBPs while senior Lauren Lupinetti is one of 12 players tied for eighth with her five this season.

RECYCLED NOTES
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).

MERCY ME: Cal State Fullerton has thrice 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 214 games.

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 against Cal Poly during its inaugural "Power in Pink" event to support breast cancer awareness and research. Funds were raised via voluntary donations and a silent auction for the Titans' game-worn pink jersey's. The Cal State Fullerton softball program wishes to say thank you to all those who contributed to the fund raising effort.

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.