May 4, 2011
EVERYDAY CHAMPIONS: Sophomore catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama
FULLERTON, CA -
PLAY BALL: The Cal State Fullerton softball team will again be in a battle for the top spot in the Big West Conference as the Titans (21-20 overall, 10-5 in league play) battle co-leader and archrival Long Beach State in a three-game series at the 49er Softball Complex. Fullerton, which stands a game back of the 49ers and Pacific, opens the series with an ESPNU nationally-televised doubleheader on Saturday (May 7) at 12 p.m. and concludes with a single game on Mother's Day (May 8) at 1 p.m.
IN THE POLLS: Neither Long Beach State nor Cal State Fullerton are listed in this week's national polls.
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.
HI, MOM!!!: Saturday's broadcast on ESPNU will mark the fifth consecutive year that the Titans will appear on national television after the ESPN family of networks carried Fullerton's super regional contests at Arizona in 2007, the Titans' NCAA regional games at UCLA and Arizona State in 2008 and 2009, and last year's doubleheader with Long Beach State from Anderson Family Field. The spotlight of national TV has been harsh, however, as the Titans are just 2-7 in those four previous appearances, including a split of their regular season doubleheader with the 49ers last season. Anne Marie Anderson will handle play-by-play duties on Saturday's broadcast with former Northwestern standout Garland Cooper providing color commentary.
ABOUT LONG BEACH STATE: The 49ers enter the weekend with a 33-14 overall record and an 11-4 mark in Big West Conference play to stand in a first-place tie with Pacific entering the weekend... Long Beach State has won nine of its last 10, including a three-game sweep of UC Santa Barbara last weekend to claim a share of the top spot in the league standings... Liz Javier is batting .338 on the year and has driven in a team-best 25 runs to help pace an offense that is hitting .281 as a team (second in the Big West) and has outscored opponents, 183-108, on the year... five regulars are hitting better than .300, including Nalani St. Germain, who leads the team with seven home runs and 24 runs scored to go with her .331 average... Freshman Erin Jones-Wesley is a six-time Big West Pitcher of the Week and paces a pitching staff that has held opponents to a conference-best .196 average... Jones-Wesley is 19-5 overall, claiming the win in each of the 49ers' three games against UCSB last week, with a 1.26 ERA and 10 shutouts in just under 156 innings... she has struck out 143 and held opponents to a .193 average... Taylor Petty (5-4, 2.34) and Brooke Turner (9-5, 2.98) complete a well-rounded staff.
SERIES NOTES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Long Beach State, 69-48, but has lost 13 of the last 21 meetings with the 49ers since winning 8-of-9 meetings from 2001-2003... Long Beach State won the season series with Fullerton in 2010, taking 2-of-3 from the Titans at Anderson Family Field with a 4-3 win in game one and a 6-2 victory in the finale... Fullerton claimed a 5-1 win in the middle game of the series... the 49ers have won seven of the last nine games played in Long Beach, including two of three in 2009... the series between the two rivals since the Big West adopted softball is even closer with the Titans holding a narrow, 47-41, edge since 1986... the two schools have met 10 times in the postseason with Long Beach State holding a, 6-3 advantage in NCAA Regional games and Fullerton winning the only meeting between the two at the Women's College World Series by a 1-0 score as part of its unbeaten run to the 1986 NCAA National Championship.
BIG REBOUND IN THE BIG WEST: Fullerton's win over Pacific in the series finale gave the Titans their 10th Big West Conference win of the season, surpassing the team's entire total from all of last season when it finished sixth in the league with a 9-12 conference record. The 10 wins mark the 28th time in 32 seasons that the Titans have finished with 10-or-more victories in conference play dating back to the program's inception in 1980.
THE MARCH TO 200: After claiming her 400th career coaching win at UC Davis two weekends ago, Head Coach Michelle Gromacki now turns her sights on yet another milestone. Gromacki, who moved into a tie for fifth place with Fresno State's Margie Wright with her 175th career Big West win last weekend against Pacific, needs just 25 more league victories to become the fourth coach in Big West history with 200 league triumphs, joining Long Beach State's Pete Manarino (393), Cal State Fullerton's Judi Garman (302), and Pacific's Brian Kolze (231 as of May 1).
THE LONGEST OF LONG-TIME RIVALS: The longest-running series in the history of Cal State Fullerton softball renews this weekend as Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State, campuses seperated by just 23 miles, do battle on the diamond once again. The Titans and 49ers have met a total of 117 times dating back to the 1981 season - the longest series in terms of games played in Fullerton's history, edging out the Titans' series with UC Santa Barbara (111 games since 1980). The Titans' 69 wins over Long Beach State rank second against any one opponent, trailing only Fullerton's 101 victories over the Gauchos.
TITANS DEALT "SERIES"-OUS BLOW: Visiting Pacific handed Cal State Fullerton its first Big West Conference series loss of the season last weekend in Fullerton as the Tigers held on to a share of the conference lead for the second-consecutive week. Now tied with Long Beach State, Pacific and the 49ers hold a one-game lead over the Titans entering this weekend's clashes while Fullerton is two games up on fourth-place UC Santa Barbara and four games ahead of fifth-place UC Davis and Cal State Northridge with two weekend's remaining in the regular season.
AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING: After being held to just six combined hits in the first two games of the series against Pacific, the Fullerton bats awoke just in time to salvage game three, banging out a season-high 17 hits and tying a season best with four doubles in an 8-1 win over the Tigers. Seven of the Titans' nine hitters finished with at least two hits led by three apiece from junior Nicole Johnson, who finished a triple short of the cycle, and sophomore Ariel Tsuchiyama. It marked the eighth time time this season that the Titans have reached double-digit hits and bested the team's previous high of 16 base hits set in the series finale against Cal Poly on April 17.
CAN WE JUST SKIP TO GAME TWO?: For the fourth time in five Big West Conference series this season, Cal State Fullerton was beaten in the opening game of a series-opening doubleheader, a streak that has seen three of the five decided by a single run, but opponents outscoring the Titans, 27-8, in the five games. However, Pacific's win in game two was the first against Fullerton in such games this season as the Titans had opened a perfect 4-0 in game two's in 2011, outscoring opponents, 25-11, before an 8-0 loss to the Tigers. Game three's, however, have been a different story as Fullerton improved to 5-0 in series finale's with its 8-1 victory, outscoring opponents, 27-13, in those contests.
CRADDICK CREATING OFFENSE: Senior K.C. Craddick has been a pest at the plate as of late, reaching base safely in her last eight contests and hitting safely in seven of those games, including both of her starts against Pacific last weekend. Craddick, who recorded her career-best 31st hit of the season in game one against the Tigers, was 3-for-6 against Pacific, raising her average 11 points to .284 on the season - good for third among Fullerton regulars entering this weekend's contests.
IN BUNCHES: After going hitless in the first two games against Pacific, junior Nicole Johnson regained her form in the series finale, going 3-for-4 with a double, home run, two runs scored, and three RBI to up her average to .336 - just outside the top 10 on the Big West leaderboards. For Johnson, it was her eighth multi-hit game of the season (tied for second on the team), but her fifth of three hits or more in 2011 and her first since finishing 4-for-5 in the series finale against Cal Poly on April 17. In fact, it is in those games where Johnson has done her most damage in Big West play as the junior is batting .571 (12-for-21) in game three's with six runs scored, a pair of doubles, three home runs, and seven RBI.
"ARIEL" ATTACK: Sophomore catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama had herself a career day offensively in the Titans' win over Pacific, finishing with a career-high three hits, a double, and a pair of RBI, raising her season average 25 points to a season-best .272 overall. She has hit safely in seven of her last nine games in the Fullerton batting order dating back to the series finale at UC Riverside on April 10, batting .524 (11-for-21) in that span with three multi-hit games to go with four runs scored, four RBI, three doubles, and a home run.
BETCHA' CAN'T HIT JUST ONE: Clearly not satisfied with just one hit per game, sophomore Ashley Carter has not only hit safely in nine of her last 13 games, she has finished with multiple hits in eight of those, upping her team-best total to 14 on the year. During that stretch, Carter is batting .415 (17-for-41) with nine runs, a triple, three RBI, and seven walks.
EFFICIENT: Redshirt freshman Tish Dedeaux has been the epitome of efficiency this season as she has eight hits (all singles) and has driven in eight runs in her first full season at the Division I level. Six of her eight hits have driven home runs, including a pair of two-hit, two-RBI games against Cal Poly (April 17) and UC Davis (April 22), while three of her base knocks have been game-winning hits against Cal State Bakersfield, UC Riverside, and UC Davis.
THAT'S QUITE A BRUISE YOU'VE GOT THERE: Junior Nicole Johnson added another bruise to her collection last weekend against Pacific as the Canyon Country native was plunked for the 12th time this season, moving her into third place in the league standings - one of only five Big West players to have been hit by a pitch 10 or more times this season. Johnson has a solid hold on third place on the school's all-time list with 34 career HBPs, standing 13 shy of Amanda Hockett for second place all time, while her 12 HBPs this season place her on Fullerton's single-season chart for a second time, tied for 10th with Candice Baker, who was hit 12 times in 2006. Crystal Vieyra (2005-08) holds the school's career record, and stands fourth in the NCAA all time, with 56 HBPs during her stay at Cal State Fullerton while the single-season mark is held by Hockett, who was hit 20 times in 2002.
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 stretch run in conference play kicks into high gear. Cervantes, who enters the weekend 14-12 overall, ranks fifth in the league in ERA (2.89), ninth in opponents batting average (.258), second in innings pitched (172.0), fifth in strikeouts (94), third in strikeouts looking (35), and standing as one of only eight Big West hurlers with double-digit wins this season, ranking fourth in that category.
HOME RUN STREAK IN DANGER: Cal State Fullerton ended a run of five consecutive games without a home run when Nicole Johnson and Morgan LeMond connected on back-to-back at bats in the series finale against Pacific, bringing the Titans' season total to 18 long balls this season. Unless the power picks up over the final six games of the regular season, Fullerton will be held to under 30 home runs in a season for the first time since 2005 (28) and, if the season ended today, the 18 home runs hit in 2011 would be the fewest since the 1994 team had just 11 balls leave the yard. The Titans' chances on improving on their total will be tested this weekend as Long Beach State has allowed just 20 home runs overall this season, but Fullerton will have its chances in the final series against Cal State Northridge at Anderson Family Field as the Matadors have surrendered a Big West-worst 54 home runs this season.
NO HERO ZERO: In the first two games of its series with Pacific, Fullerton was shutout in back-to-back games for the second time this season after suffering back-to-back 5-0 shutout losses to Illinois and Texas on March 18 & 19. The two five-inning losses to the Tigers also marked the first time in the history of the program that the Titans have been run-ruled in back-to-back contests.
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 .260 as a team with runners in scoring position thus far and has left 164 of their 261 runners left on base (62.8%) 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 41 games thus far, they have stranded 153 of 261 "enemy" baserunners in scoring position (58.6%) this season.
NOTHING FOR FREE: Opponents have made the Titans work for their runs off free passes this season as, of the team's 103 walks this season, only 26 have come around to score (25 percent) while almost half (38) of the remaining 77 baserunners have been stranded in scoring position.
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.
WALK-OFF WINNERS: Johnson's three-run home run against Cal Poly on April 17 brought down the curtain in the Titans' fourth walk-off win of the year, ending a dramatic rally from two runs down for the 11-8 win. It was Johnson's second walk-off winner of the year after she drew a bases-loaded free pass against then-No. 14 Oregon on Feb. 13 while K.C. Craddick (vs. Oregon State on March 6) and Ashley Carter (vs. Utah State on on March 11 in eight innings) have also come through in their final at bats for Titan victories.
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, standing second in the Big West in chances (330) and putouts (315) while standing atop the list among those players in the conference with at least 100 chances with a .997 fielding percentage (one error in 330 chances). It is just another 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 1,367 chances) and enters the weekend ranked sixth in career chances and sixth 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 .994 fielding percentage (one error in 173 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 eight would-be base stealers this season (tied for fourth in the league) and has helped guide a pitching staff that has walked a league-low 97 batters in 2011. In almost two seasons, Tsuchiyama has committed just two errors in 356 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.
ANDERSON REACHES CENTURY MARK: With her three RBI against UC Davis on April 22-23, senior Torrie Anderson became only the 10th player in the history of the program to drive in 100 career runs, moving past All-American Kiki Munoz (2005-08) for 10th on the school's all-time list with 102 runs driven in. Anderson, who stands just six RBI behind Gina Oaks (108 from 2000-03) for ninth on the all-time list, leads the team with 21 RBI this season and is bidding to lead the team in that category for the third consecutive season - the first time a Titan has done that since Missy Coombes accomplished the feat in all four of her collegiate seasons with Fullerton from 1987-90.
ONCE IN A BLUE MOON: Senior K.C. Craddick has been such a mainstay in the lineup at first base for the Titans during her career that it's something to note when she's not in the lineup. Craddick, who suffered a leg injury in a collision at the bad during the series finale against Cal Poly on April 17, missed her first game of the season in the opener at UC Davis on April 22, ending a streak of 110 consecutive starts dating back to the final 22 games of the 2009 season. Of the team's 201 games during Craddick's career, the Yorba Linda native has appeared in 173 of them (86.1%) and has started 164 of her 173 career appearances (94.8%).