Titans Battle Matadors as Race Heats Up

April 25, 2008

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FULLERTON, CA - After jumping right back into the Big West Conference race with a three-game sweep of Pacific, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (22-22-1 overall, 6-6 in the Big West) hits the road for the final time this season, traveling to Cal State Northridge for a three-game series with the Matadors. The series opens with a doubleheader on Saturday (April 26) at 12 p.m. with Sunday's single-game series finale also starting at noon.

I NEED STATS, STAT: All three games of this weekend's series with Cal State Northridge will feature Gametracker livestats courtesy of CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV). Links will be available on Cal State Fullerton's official athletics website at FullertonTitans.com.

IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor Cal State Northridge are ranked nationally in either coaches poll this weekend.

SERIES RECORDS: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Cal State Northridge by the count of 53-29-1, winning the last five consecutive meetings - including a series sweep at home last season... the Titans are 31-14 all-time against the Matadors at home, but are just above .500 on the road at 19-13-1... Fullerton has won the last eight season series against Northridge dating back to the 2000 season, including sweeps in five of those years... The Matadors last won a series in 1999, taking two of three from the Titans in Northridge.

A LOOK AT THE MATADORS: Cal State Northridge enters the weekend with a 17-21 overall record an a 6-6 mark in Big West play to stand in a three-way tie for third place in the league with Cal Poly and Fullerton... the Matadors lost 2-of-3 to Cal Poly last weekend and are 4-6 in their last 10 games that includes a series win over UC Santa Barbara and a series loss to Long Beach State... Amanda Peek leads the team offensively, batting .427 with five home runs and 23 RBI... Mercedes Lovato leads the team in the circle, posting a 14-12 overall record in 21 starts with a 3.14 ERA... Amanda Pitzenberger (3-6, 3.46 ERA) and Samantha Schroeder (0-3, 3.50 ERA) have also seen time in the circle.

HINER EARNS BIG WEST HONORS: Freshman right-hander Christine Hiner was named the Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week for the second time in 2008 on Monday morning, posting a 2-0 record without allowing an earned run in just under 11 innings of work against Pacific. Hiner earned the win in game two of the series, pitching six shutout innings while scattering nine hits and striking out five. She also posted the win in game three, pitching 4.2 innings and striking out four in relief, allowing just three hits in the Titans' 4-3 win.

MOVIN' ON UP: A big weekend catapulted the Titans from the cellar into the upper half of the Big West standings as their sweep of the Tigers took Fullerton from seventh to a three-way tie for third place in the league with Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge, just one game back of UC Santa Barbara in the second spot. More important for the Titans' postseason hopes, Cal State Fullerton also reached the .500 mark overall with the three-game sweep, making them eligible for selection to the NCAA Tournament.

WINNER, WINNER: Cal State Fullerton's three-game sweep of Pacific extended the Titans' winning streak to four straight games - tying a season best set from Feb. 24-29. A win in game one on Saturday against Cal State Northridge will give Fullerton its longest winning streak since the Titans won eight straight from March 27-April 14 last season.

ONE ENDS, TWO CONTINUE: Junior Lauren Lupinetti's seven-game hitting streak came to an end this weekend in Stockton, but seniors Katie Gollhardt and Kiki Munoz figured out Tigers pitching enough to keep their streaks going, extending their streaks to five and four games, respectively. During her streak, Gollhardt is hitting a blistering .632 (12-for-19) with five runs and seven RBI to go with four extra base hits. Munoz is also chugging right along, batting .615 (8-for-13) with four runs and five RBI and four extra base hits.

LEADING OFF FOR THE TITANS...: Since Head Coach Michelle Gromacki juggled the Titans' lineup around to try and jumpstart the offense, senior Katie Gollhardt has excelled in the leadoff spot over the course of the past two weeks, batting .632 in five games helping the Titans to a 4-1 record in that span. Since moving into the top spot, Gollhardt has raised her average 48 points from .254 to .302 this season.

POWER RESTORED: After slugging just one home run in their previous six games, the Titans broke out the long ball this past weekend in Stockton, slugging four home runs against Tigers pitching to bring their season total to 26. Munoz had the first multiple home run game for a Titan since Katie Gollhardt's two home runs against St. John's on Feb. 27 and Fullerton hit multiple home runs in a game for the first time since slugging a pair against UC Riverside in game one of the series on April 5.

WATCH OUT TED WILLIAMS: Senior Kiki Munoz continues to lead the team with a .422 average and is part of a very exclusive club in the Big West Conference this season as one of only three remaining players hitting better than .400 this season. If the season ended today, Munoz's average would rank fifth on the school's single-season chart and just outside the Big West's single-season list (12th).

IRON WOMAN: Senior Katie Gollhardt continues to chug along in the Fullerton starting lineup as this weekend's three-game series extended her streak to 218 consecutive starts (read: every game) since first donning a Titans jersey in 2005.

HINER REACHES DOUBLE FIGURES: Freshman right-hander Christine Hiner earned her first victories in the circle since game two of the Titans series against UC Riverside, moving to 11-11 overall on the year. The 11 wins are the most for a Fullerton freshman pitcher since Brooke Weekley finished with 14 victories during her rookie season in 2004.

TWO OF THE BEST GO HEAD-TO-HEAD: Matador Diamond will be the site this weekend as two of the Big West Conference's best hitters will duke it out. Cal State Northridge's Amanda Peek and Cal State Fullerton's Kiki Munoz each rank in the top five in the league in average, slugging percentage, and on base percentage. Munoz also ranks second in the league in hits and third in total bases while Peek leads the conference in walks and ranks in the top 10 in hits and total bases.

DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK: Sorry, LL Cool J, but now we can. Sunday's 4-3 win over Pacific marked the fourth time this season that the Titans have come from behind to win and the third time in 19 games that Fullerton has won when the opponents have scored first. When the Titans were outhit, 10-7, in Saturday's game two win, it marked only the second time in 15 games that Fullerton has won when it trailed in the hit column.

ON YOUR MARKS...: Cal State Fullerton has been quick out of the gates in the runs column this season, outscoring the opposition, 42-15, in the first two innings thus far in 2008. The Titans are 19-7 when scoring first and 10-3 when putting up a run in the first inning.

IN THE KIKI, KIKI, KIKI, KIKI, KIKI ROOM: Munoz is also making her mark nationally, standing among the NCAA's top 100 players in four different categories. The senior enters the weekend ranked No. 30 in the nation in average, No. 31 in doubles per game (0.33), No. 62 in on base percentage (.483), and is among the top 100 toughest players to strikeout in the nation, standing No. 98 in the nation by striking out once every 14.2 at bats (nine times in 128 at bats overall this year).

WEAR IT!: Already the school record-holder for being hit by a pitch, senior Crystal Vieyra continues to set her sights on the NCAA mark as it seems opposing pitchers have their sights trained in on her. Vieyra has been hit by a pitch 51 times for her career - just three shy of matching Purdue's Tricia Lilley and Centenary's Michelle Reeve for second place all-time in NCAA history. Vieyra needs just 11 more to tie her with Liberty's Cheryl Wyrick, who set the all-time Division I record with 62 HBP's in 2001.

DOUBLES TROUBLE: As the season heads into the home stretch, the Titans are moving ever closer to the school record of 99 doubles set in 1999. Smacking three doubles this past week brought Fullerton to 68 two-baggers on the season which leads the Big West Conference by 15 over second-place Long Beach State. The Titans also rank No. 24 in the nation with 1.51 doubles per game entering this weekend's contests.

PITCHER'S BEST FRIEND: "Let's Turn Two" has been the motto for the Titans in the field this season as Cal State Fullerton's defense has turned 18 double plays in 2008 - a total that has the Titans atop the Big West Conference entering this week's games and ranking tied for 15th in the nation. The Titans' 0.40 double plays per game also has them ranked No. 16 in the NCAA thus far.

NOT YOUR RANK AND FILE SCHEDULE: Cal State Fullerton has played 14 games this season against opponents ranked in the top 25 - the most of any other Big West Conference school this season. However, the Titans have posted just a 3-10-1 record against those squad with the three wins coming against a trio of top-10 foes: No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 2 UCLA, and No. 7 Arizona.

STILL STINGY WITH THE HITS: Fullerton's pitching staff continues to be stingy in the circle, holding the opposition to a .236 average this season to rank second in the Big West Conference. Senior Jessica Doucette (.203) ranks second among the league's hurlers in the category while freshman Christine Hiner ranks seventh in the league with a .242 average against.

S.O.S.: As in "Save Our Scorers." Cal State Fullerton has struggled to find that clutch hit in 2008, stranding 287 batters on base through 45 games - 176 of those (61 percent) in scoring position. The Titans, who are hitting just .244 with runners in scoring position this season, have left runners in scoring position in all but one game this season.