Titans Look to Rebound at Home Against First-Place Tigers

April 18, 2007

FULLERTON, CA - After falling from the ranks of the Big West Conference's unbeaten teams last weekend, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (25-17 overall, 7-2 in league play) looks to rebound this weekend with a three-game series against league-leading Pacific at Anderson Family Field. First-pitch for both Saturday's doubleheader and Sunday's single-game finale is scheduled for 12 p.m.

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ON THE AIR: Gametracker will be available for all three games this weekend as will a live audio broadcast with Mike Martinez handling the play-by-play at www.FullertonTitans.com. Live streaming video will be available for BigWestTV subscribers for Sunday's game only. Fans can sign up for and access the video by visiting www.BigWest.org/TV.

IN THE POLLS: Cal State Fullerton continues to receive votes (4) in this week's ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, but has dropped out of the USA Today/NFCA poll. Pacific is unranked.

A LOOK AT THE TIGERS: Pacific enters the weekend having won seven straight since winning the second game of a doubleheader against then-No. 24 Fresno State on April 3 at home. The Tigers are 31-13 overall and a perfect 6-0 in Big West play to stand atop the league, but have played three fewer conference games than second-place Cal Poly and third-place Cal State Fullerton... Pacific is coming off a three-game sweep of UC Riverside last weekend, outscoring the Highlanders, 16-4. Last season's Big West Co-Field Player of the Year and second-team All-American Gina Carbonatto leads the Tigers offense with a .411 average, four home runs and 37 RBI. 2005 All-American Jennifer Curtier is hitting .397 with 15 doubles, six home runs, and 38 RBI to help power an offense that is hitting .311 as a team. Sophomore Chelsea Engle (17-9, 2.86 ERA) and junior Alyce Jorgensen (7-2, 3.49 ERA) have seen the majority of the time in the circle for the Tigers.

SERIES STUMBLE: Long Beach State's series victory over Cal State Fullerton last weekend snapped a string of 10 consecutive Big West Conference series victories for the Titans and snapped their 12-game conference winning streak dating back to 2006.

TITANS' DEFENSE AMONG BEST IN THE NATION: Cal State Fullerton's prowess with the glove has them among the top defensive teams in the nation entering this weekend's play as the Titans rank No. 10 in fielding percentage (and first in the Big West) with a .975 mark and No. 12 in the country in double plays per game (and first in the Big West) at 0.48 per game. Fullerton also ranks No. 11 in the NCAA with 20 double plays this season.

PITCHERS DUELS IN STORE THIS WEEKEND: Two of the Big West Conference's top pitchers will lock gloves this weekend at Anderson Family Field as Fullerton senior Candice Baker and Pacific sophomore Chelsea Engle. The two pitchers rank among the conference's best in numerous categories including batting average against (2nd and 6th), innings (1st and 2nd), strikeouts (1st and 3rd), and appearances (1st and 2nd). In addition, Engle leads the Big West with 17 wins in the circle this season while Baker is second in the league with 15 wins.

SACRIFICES MADE: Sophomore Courtney Martinez, who ranks third in the Big West Conference this season with 17 sacrifice hits, is among the nation's best at moving runners this season, standing at No. 8 in the NCAA with 0.40 sacrifice hits per game. Martinez has successfully advanced runners at a team-best 56 percent clip (40-for-71) in 2007.

HOW DO YOU SPELL RELIEF?: Thus far this season it has been W-E-E-K-L-E-Y... as in Fullerton senior right-hander Brooke Weekley, who pitched in relief in all three games at Long Beach State last weekend.

Weekley, who is tied for first in the Big West this season with 12 relief appearances, surrendered only one earned run on five hits in 4 1/3 innings of work (1.62 ERA), while picking up her third save of the year in the opener.

In her last six appearances, all in relief, Weekley has posted a 2-0 record with two saves and a 0.66 ERA while holding opponents to a .189 average in 10 2/3 innings of work.

In 25 innings (12 appearances) of relief this season, Weekley has allowed just six earned runs (1.68 ERA) while striking out 23 and holding opponents to a .227 average (20-for-88).

OUCH!!!!: Break out the ice packs, being hit by a pitch is back in style at Cal State Fullerton. The Titans were hit by a pitch seven times in three games against Long Beach State last weekend, upping the team's total to a league-high 35 HBPs this season. Lauren Lupinetti (who leads the Big West with 12 HBPs and ranks No. 10 in the NCAA this week with 0.29 per game), Crystal Vieyra and Candice Baker were all hit twice while Courtney Martinez was also beaned in game two.

SPEAKING OF BRUISES: Junior Crystal Vieyra, who has ranked among the top five players in the nation in being hit by a pitch the last two years, has been hit five times this season, bringing her career total to 41 - just six short of Amanda Hockett's career record of 47 set from 2000-03. Lauren Lupinetti's 12 HBPs this season currently ranks tied for sixth and are eight short of Hockett's single-season mark of 20 set in 2002.

KIKI TORCHING OPPOSING PITCHING: Since Big West Conference play has started, junior catcher Kiki Munoz has been torching opposing pitchers, hitting .458 (11-for-24) with four runs scored, a home run, six walks, and seven RBI in nine games. In that stretch, Munoz has raised her batting average 47 points to .302 since hitting a season-low .255 on March 31.

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: And it is one that Munoz possesses in spades this season at the plate. The junior catcher is one of the nation's toughest players to strikeout in 2007, ranking No. 32 with one strikeout in every 19.3 at bats and has struck out only six times in 116 at bats.

SEND `EM UP... SIT `EM DOWN: Candice Baker extended her league-leading strikeout total to 201 over the weekend - one of only three Big West pitchers thus far to reach the century mark in strikeouts in 2007. The senior right-hander became only the fifth pitcher in school history to reach the 600-strikeout plateau with 11 K's against Utah on March 21 and her 654 strikeouts rank her fifth on the school's all-time list with current Titans' assistant coach and two-time All-American Gina Oaks (685 career strikeouts) next on the list.

A RECORD READY TO FALL?: With 12 games (plus any possible postseason play) remaining in the season, Baker may be on the verge of toppling one of the program's longest-standing records. The senior righty needs just 48 more strikeouts over that span to tie Susan LeFebvre's career mark of 702 that has stood since the 1986 season.

GROMACKI INCHING CLOSER TO MILESTONE: Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Michelle Gromacki moved one win closer to another coaching milestone as she stands just three wins shy of 300 for her career. Gromacki, only the second head coach in the history of the program, is 297-153 (.660) all-time at Cal State Fullerton, including a 122-37 (.767) record in Big West Conference games.

DEPENDABLE: The ironwoman at first base for the Titans, junior Katie Gollhardt has started every game Cal State Fullerton has played since she arrived on campus in 2005 - a stretch of 154 consecutive games.

STINGY WITH THE HITS: All three of Cal State Fullerton's starting pitchers this season have been bullish against opposing batters, helping the Titans to a .203 batting average against - a total that is second in the Big West Conference entering this week. Seniors Candice Baker and Brooke Weekley, along with junior Jessica Doucette, all rank among the Big West's top 10 in batting average against with Baker leading the way with a .186 average against (2nd in the league). Weekley is right behind her in fourth place with a .220 average against while Doucette ranks seventh with a .231 average against.

THRICE AS NICE: Cal State Fullerton has used all three of its pitchers in a single game twice this season with good results as the Titans are 2-0 in games that they have "plattooned" in the circle - including a win this past weekend in game one against Cal State Northridge. Fullerton first used the platoon back on March 17 in a 4-3 win over No. 24 Florida State.

"BOX" BOMBS HER WAY INTO THIRD: Cal State Fullerton senior Ashley Van Boxmeer slugged her 30th career (and seventh of the season) home run in the game one of the series against Cal State Northridge, moving her into sole possession of third place on the school's all-time list. She is just three back of tying All-American Jenny Topping, who hit 33 home runs as a Titan from 2001-03, for second place.

GET HER ON, GET HER HOME: Junior Jessica Doucette has been a sparkplug for the Titans at the top of Fullerton's lineup, as she is hitting .275 from the leadoff spot and has reached base 43 percent of the time. That has translated into good things for the Titans as Doucette has come around to score the game-winning run in 11 of Fullerton's 25 wins this season.

GOTTA WIN THE CLOSE ONES: Cal State Fullerton has been in just about every game it has played this season as 20 of its 42 contests have been decided by two runs or less. However, the Titans are just 11-9 in those contests, hitting just .235 as a team and .188 with runners in scoring position. The Titans have been doing their part defensively, however, holding opponents to a .175 average in those contests and committing only 13 errors in 614 chances (.979) in the field to give their offense a chance.

PROGRAM REACHES WIN MILESTONE: With its victory over \#24 Florida State on March 17, Cal State Fullerton clinched the 1,200th win in the history of the program dating back to 1980. The Titans are 1,206-527-4 in the program's 27-plus seasons for a .695 winning percentage.

TITANS PICKED TO REPEAT AS BIG WEST CHAMPS: The 2007 Cal State Fullerton softball team was picked to repeat as champions of the Big West Conference according to a vote of the league's coaches released on Jan. 24 by the conference office. The Titans received six of the seven possible first-place votes and 48 points overall to outdistance second-place Cal Poly, which received 35 points. The two were followed by last year's runner-up Long Beach State (33 points) in third and UC Santa Barbara and Pacific, which tied for fourth with 25 points apiece. Cal State Northridge (17 points) received the remaining first-place vote and was picked sixth followed by UC Riverside (13 points) in seventh.

BAKER SWEEPS NATIONAL HONORS: In addition to her second Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week award, Cal State Fullerton senior right-hander Candice Baker was named both the USA Softball and NFCA National Player of the Week on March 5 after helping the Titans to a 4-1 record at their own Worth Invitational. Baker allowed only an unearned run on four hits in 21 innings of work, including posting wins over No. 8 Stanford and No. 11 Oregon State. She also held opponents to an .060 average and struck out 20 batters on the weekend.

BAKER IS ONE TO WATCH FOR: Senior right-hander Candice Baker was one of 50 players named to the initial watch list for the sixth annual USA Softball National Player of the Year Award on Jan. 23. The list is comprised of players representing 33 schools and 11 different NCAA Division I conferences. Baker, a two-time All-West Region First-Team selection as a utility player, was 22-10 in the circle as a junior with a 2.16 ERA and a Big West best 259 strikeouts and a .194 batting average against. The list will be pared down to 25 names on April 4 and will shrink yet again to 10 players on May 9. The three finalists will be announced on May 23 with the winner named prior to the start of the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.

THE "TITAN FAMILY": Family ties reign supreme at Cal State Fullerton in 2007. Cousins Jenna Wheeler and Courtney Martinez will play together for the second straight season... Yvette Fernandez's cousin is former Fullerton All-American Monica Lucatero... Jessica Doucette's mother, the former Teri Young, was a member of the Titans' first-ever softball team in 1980.

"BOX" EARNS SPOT ON CANADIAN NATIONAL TEAMS: Cal State Fullerton senior Ashley Van Boxmeer was named to Canada's 17-member World University Games team that will compete on Aug. 8-18 in Bangkok, Thailand, and will also compete with the Senior Women's National Team at the 2007 Canada Cup.

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