Big West Conference Co-Leaders Clash as Cal Poly Visits Cal State Fullerton
May 2, 2007
FULLERTON, CA - Cal State Fullerton hosts perhaps its biggest series of the 2007 season this weekend as the Titans (30-18 overall, 9-3 in the Big West Conference) welcome Cal Poly to Anderson Family Field. The Mustangs sit atop the league standings entering this weekend, tied with Fullerton with identical 9-3 conference marks.
The series opens with a doubleheader on Saturday (May 5) at noon with a single game on Sunday (May 6) at 12 p.m. Fullerton's four seniors (Candice Baker, Tiffany Hoff, Ashley Van Boxmeer, and Brooke Weekley) will be feted in "Senior Day" festivities prior to first pitch on Sunday.
ON THE AIR: Gametracker and live audio will be available for all three games of this weekend's series against Cal Poly while the live video stream will be available for Saturday's doubleheader only. Links to live stats and audio can be found at www.FullertonTitans.com while the links to the live video stream will be available to BigWest TV subscribers at www.bigwest.org/tv.
IN THE POLLS: Both Cal State Fullerton (3 votes) and Cal Poly (2 votes) are receiving votes in this week's ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches poll.
A LOOK AT THE MUSTANGS: Cal Poly enters the weekend with a 34-14 overall record and is tied atop the Big West standings with Cal State Fullerton with a 9-3 mark in league play. The Mustangs are coming off a series loss to Central Coast rival UC Santa Barbara and have lost five of their last seven. Senior Lisa Modglin, a postseason awards candidate, leads the offense with a .490 average, 16 home runs and 42 RBI. The Mustangs have a three-armed attack in the circle with Emily Hively (9-2, 1.89 ERA), Robyn Kontra (10-5, 2.15 ERA), and Jenna Maiden (10-3, 2.26 ERA).
GROMACKI GETS NO. 300: Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Michelle Gromacki earned career coaching win No. 300 in the first game of last weekend's three-game series against UC Davis. Gromacki, who was the fastest coach in school history in any sport to win 100 games, improved to 302-154 (.662) in her seven-plus seasons at the helm of the Titans' program.
TALL ORDER IN STORE FOR THE TITANS: Aside from the pressure of the Big West Conference title race, the Titans will have to deal with a powerful Cal Poly squad that leads the league in team ERA (2.05 to Fullerton's 2.10) and ranks second to Pacific in team batting (.306 to Fullerton's .252).
FULLERTON REACHES 30-WIN PLATEAU: With their sweep of UC Davis this past weekend, the Titans reached the 30 wins in a season for the third consecutive year, the seventh time in eight years under Head Coach Michelle Gromacki, and the 26th time in the 28-year history of the program.
DO WE SENSE A PATTERN?: This year's senior class will be looking to bring the Titans full circle in their recent meetings with Cal Poly. As freshmen in 2004, the Mustangs swept the three game series from Fullerton in San Luis Obispo and then took two-of-three from the Titans in 2005 on Fullerton's home field. Last season, Cal State Fullerton won the season series by taking two-of-three from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo to set up the 2007 for a... well... we don't want to jinx anything do we?
BONUS SOFTBALL: Cal State Fullerton's 13-inning, three-hour and 32-minute marathon victory over UC Davis in game two of the series last weekend was the longest of the year for the Titans both in terms of innings and time of game and was the longest since Fullerton fell to Cal State Northridge on Feb. 13, 1994.
GOING THE DISTANCE: Senior right-hander Brooke Weekley put forth perhaps the gutsiest pitching performance of her career on Saturday, tossing all 13 innings (a career high) of the aforementioned game two marathon, living up to her Big West Pitcher of the Week billing. Weekley struck out 10 to reach double figures for the second time this season (11 vs. Northwestern State on Feb. 10).
MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH: One more strike. That's all senior right-hander Candice Baker needed on Saturday as UC Davis' Sarah O'Neill singled to right field on a 1-2 pitch to break up Baker's bid for her second no-hitter of the year. Baker had allowed five walks on the afternoon through the first six innings, but only two Aggies reached second base as Fullerton's ace struck out eight and held the UC Davis bats in check all afternoon en route to the one-hit complete-game shutout.
TWO-HEADED MONSTER: Head Coach Michelle Gromacki appears to have a new weapon in her arsenal in right-hander Brooke Weekley. The senior improved to 5-1 as a starter (and 8-3 overall) in game two against UC Davis, winning her last five straight starts since losing her opener against Northwestern State on Feb. 10. In that span, she has posted a 1.54 ERA while allowing 10 runs on 36 hits while striking out 34 in 45 1/3 innings and holding the opposition to a .218 average (36-for-165).
However, Weekley can also come out of the bullpen and shut down an opponent as she has allowed just six earned runs in 25 innings of relief (1.68 ERA) while striking out 23 and holding opponents to a .227 average (20-for-88).
SEND `EM UP... SIT `EM DOWN: Candice Baker extended her league-leading strikeout total to 219 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 672 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 six 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 30 more strikeouts over that span to tie Susan LeFebvre's career mark of 702 that has stood since the 1986 season.
BAKER IN THE NCAA: Fullerton's senior ace is also making an impression among national leaders as she stands No. 54 in the NCAA in strikeouts per seven innings (7.98), No. 62 in victories (17), and No. 29 in saves (3) along with teammate Brooke Weekley.
WALK THIS WAY: UC Davis pitchers didn't want any piece of Fullerton's Ashley Van Boxmeer, walking her three times on the weekend - all of which led to runs for the Titans. The free passes upped her team-best total to 25 on the season which ranks tied for fourth in the Big West Conference. Her 0.54 walks per game this season also puts her among the nation's most walked players, standing at No. 82 in the NCAA entering this week. Her 76 career walks have her tied for fourth on the school's career list with Pam Edde (1980-82) - just three shy of Monica Lucatero for third.
BACK-TO-BACK?: With her win on Saturday, Candice Baker improved to 17-10 overall on the season in the circle, moving ever so closer to becoming only the seventh Titan pitcher to post 20 wins in back-to-back seasons in the 28-year history of the program. Should she get three more wins, Baker would be the first Fullerton hurler to accomplish the feat since Jennifer Mortensen did it in 1994 (20-16) and 1995 (23-8) and it would be the 23rd time a Titan pitcher would post 20 wins on the year.
WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER: Sophomore Lauren Lupinetti came through in the clutch this weekend in Davis, notching the game-winning hits in the first two games of the series to help the Titans to a series win over the Aggies. Lupinetti's two-out RBI double in the first inning of game one helped lift Fullerton to the 3-0 win while her single through the left side with runners at the corners in the 13th inning of game two drove home Candice Baker with the winner in the Titans' 3-1 win. Lupinetti leads the team with six game-winning RBI, including three straight dating back from the second game of the Pacific series until Saturday's game two.
WE'RE GOIN' STREAKING!: Lupinetti extended her hitting streak to five straight games with her four hits this weekend, batting .421 (8-for-19) with three doubles and five RBI. The five-game streak is the longest active run for a Titan while her seven-game hit streak from March 27 to April 7 is tied for the second longest by a Fullerton player this season.
GO TWO, GO TWO: Cal State Fullerton junior Jessica Doucette added three more doubles this past weekend at UC Davis, increasing her team-best total to 15 this year - which also ranks third in the Big West entering this week's games. With her performance this past weekend, she moved into a tie for eighth on the school's single-season doubles list - just four shy of the single-season school record shared by All-Americans Sue Lewis (1981) and Jenny Topping (2001).
KIKI TORCHING OPPOSING PITCHING: Since Big West Conference play has started, junior catcher Kiki Munoz has been torching opposing pitchers, hitting .469 (15-for-32) and reaching base safely in each of the Titans' 12 conference games this season. In that stretch, Munoz has raised her batting average 60 points to .315 since hitting a season-low .255 on March 31.
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 160 consecutive games.
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: And it is one that junior Kiki 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. 39 with one strikeout in every 17 at bats and has struck out only eight times in 136 at bats overall this season. Not to dwell on a negative, but Munoz's strikeout in game two of last weekend's series at UC Davis snapped a stretch of 12 consecutive games (33 straight at bats) in which the junior had not been retired on strikes.
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 .200 batting average against - a total that leads 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 five in batting average against with Baker leading the way with a .182 average against (2nd in the league). Weekley is right behind her in third place with a .221 average against while Doucette ranks fourth with a .223 average against.
OUCH!!!!: Break out the ice packs, being hit by a pitch is back in style at Cal State Fullerton. Sophomore Lauren Lupinetti was plunked for a Big West-high 14th time last weekend against Pacific - helping to raise Fullerton's league-leading total to 38. Lupinetti's 14 bruises rank fifth on the school's single season list (just six short of the record of 20 held by Amanda Hockett in 2002) and ranks No. 8 in the nation with 0.29 per game.
GOTTA WIN THE CLOSE ONES: Cal State Fullerton has been in just about every game it has played this season as 22 of its 48 contests have been decided by two runs or less. However, the Titans are just 12-10 in those contests, hitting just .235 as a team and .186 with runners in scoring position. The Titans have been doing their part defensively, however, holding opponents to a .176 average in those contests and committing only 16 errors in 674 chances (.976) in the field to give their offense a chance.
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. 9 in fielding percentage (and first in the Big West) with a .975 mark and No. 10 in the country in double plays per game (and first in the Big West) at 0.48 per game. Fullerton also ranks tied for No. 15 in the NCAA with 23 double plays this season.
SACRIFICES MADE: Sophomore Courtney Martinez, who ranks third in the Big West Conference this season with 18 sacrifice hits, is among the nation's best at moving runners this season, standing at No. 12 in the NCAA with 0.38 sacrifice hits per game. Martinez has successfully advanced runners at a team best 53 percent clip (42-for-79) in 2007.
"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.
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... 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: 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.