It All Comes Down to This...
May 6, 2009
FULLERTON, CA -
BATTER UP!: The race for the Big West conference title will come down to the final weekend of the regular season as the Titans head to the coast to take on UC Santa Barbara in a pivotal three-game series at Campus Diamond. Trailing league-leading Cal Poly by a single game, the Titans and the Gauchos will meet in a doubleheader on Friday (May 8) at 12 p.m. prior to Saturday's (May 9) single-game regular season finale, also at 12 p.m.
IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor UC Santa Barbara are listed in the coaches' top 25 polls this week.
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 at UC Santa Barbara. Links will be available on the softball schedule page of FullertonTitans.com.
A LOOK AT THE GAUCHOS: UC Santa Barbara enters the weekend with a 26-22 overall mark and a 9-9 record in Big West play to stand in fourth place entering the final weekend of the regular season... UCSB has won five of its last six after sweeping UC Davis last weekend at home and taking two-of-three from Pacific on the road... Reigning Big West Player of the Week, Christine Ramos, leads the offense batting .414 with 29 runs scored and 19 RBI... The Gauchos, as a team, are hitting .285... Freshman Krista Cobb (18-8, 1.82 ERA) leads the staff in the circle, striking out 109 batters and holding opponents to a .200 average this season... she is one of five pitchers to see action this season and the only one with an ERA under 3.00... however, the staff has combined to hold opposing hitters to just a .256 average - fifth-best in the Big West.
THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with UC Santa Barbara, 94-9, but the Gauchos took two-of-three from the Titans last season in Fullerton...Cal State Fullerton is 47-5 against UCSB on the Gauchos' home field, including a three-game sweep in the team's last visit there in 2007... The Titans have won 13 of their last 15 at Campus Diamond dating back to head coach Michelle Gromacki's first year in 2000... Gromacki is 24-5 against the Gauchos in her nine-plus seasons at the helm.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS: The Big West Conference title and automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament will be decided this weekend as Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly, and Long Beach State all race for a share of the league title. A sweep by the Titans this weekend and a loss by the Mustangs at UC Riverside, splits the title between the two teams, but Fullerton earns the automatic bid based on its series victory over Cal Poly earlier this year. A Mustangs sweep would give them the title outright as would two victories and two losses by the Titans. Long Beach can clinch a share of the title with a sweep of Pacific, a sweep of Cal Poly by UC Riverside and two losses by Cal State Fullerton, however, Cal Poly wouldreceive the automatic berth based on its combined record (4-2) against Cal State Fullerton (3-3) and Long Beach State (2-4). Aren't numbers fun?
SELECTION SHOW INFO: The field of 64 teams for the 2009 NCAA Tournament will be announced on Sunday (May 10) at 7 p.m. PDT on ESPNU. Check your local listings for channel information.
"SENIOR" MOMENT: Cal State Fullerton's 3-1 victory over Cal State Northridge on Sunday, marked its ninth "Senior Day" win in 10 chances under Head Coach Michelle Gromacki. The Titans, who will meet the Gauchos on Saturday on UCSB's "Senior Day," are 2-0 this season on "Senior Day," after last last Sunday's win and another on April 26 to spoil Long Beach State's salute to its seniors.
WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER: Cal State Fullerton's sweep of Cal State Northridge last weekend guaranteed the Titans their 28th winning season in the 30-year history of the program. The 26 wins thus far are just one shy of the mark for all of last season while the 14 Big West Conference victories thus far are the most since the 2006 squad finished 14-4 en route to the Big West title.
HEINLE NAMED PITCHER OF THE WEEK: A pair of complete-game victories in the circle last weekend helped righthander Krystal Heinle nab Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week honors on Monday afternoon. Heinle earned weekly laurels from the conference office for the first time in her collegiate career and it marked only the second weekly honor for a Titans pitcher this season after Ari Cervantes earned the award on March 16. Heinle improved to 9-7 overall this season in the circle, allowing only four hits in two starts against visiting Cal State Northridge, including carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the series finale on Sunday. She finished by allowing just one hit in game three against the Matadors, a one-out single in the seventh, while facing just four batters over the minimum and striking out four. In the second game of the series on Saturday, Heinle allowed three runs, but gave up just three hits and struck out seven - the most since she struck out the same number on March 28 against Cal Poly. For the weekend, Heinle posted a 1.50 ERA and held Cal State Northridge's bats to a combined .087 average in her two starts.
BREAK OUT THE BROOMS: Cal State Fullerton's sweep of Cal State Northridge last weekend was the Titans' third sweep of a conference opponent this season after doing the same to UC Davis (April 10-11) on the road and Pacific (April 18-19) at home.
WAY TO GO, WHIT: After going almost two full seasons without a hit, senior outfielder Whitney Kroh has put on her hitting shoes since returning to the lineup three weekend's ago against Pacific, notching a hit in five of the nine contests and batting .316 (6-for-19) in that span with two runs scored, a pair of sacrifice hits, and two stolen bases. Kroh had two hits in Sunday's series finale against Cal State Northridge - her first multi-hit game since finishing 2-for-3 against Loyola-Chicago on March 7, 2006.
SOMETHING'S GONNA GIVE: This weekend's final series in Santa Barbara will put the league's second-best offense against one of the Big West's stingiest pitching staffs. UC Santa Barbara boasts the league's second-best average as a team at .284 while Cal State Fullerton's .237 average against is the third-best in the league.
K.C. A-OK: Sophomore K.C. Craddick continues to tear the cover off the ball since the start of Big West Conference play, ranking second in the league with a .370 average. Of the 16 conference games she has played in, Craddick has hits in 13 of them, including multiple hits four times against Cal Poly, UC Davis (twice), and Pacific. This is nothing new for Craddick, who hit a robust .339 in 20 Big West games last season en route to All-Big West Honorable Mention honors.
TRINA TOUGH ON MATADORS: Freshman Trina Harrison had herself quite a weekend against Cal State Northridge, batting .429 and driving home three runs to help Cal State Fullerton to the three-game sweep. The weekend also included the rookie's third home run of the year the provided the final margin in the Titans' game-three victory as Fullerton improved to 3-0 this season when Harrison touches them all.
THESE CHICKS DIG THE LONG BALL: The Fullerton lineup continues to generate power this season as the Titans remain atop the Big West leaderboards with their 38 long balls entering this week's games - besting second place Cal Poly by nine home runs. As a team, Fullerton ranks No. 44 in the nation with 0.84 home runs per contest while, individually, three Titans rank among the Big West's leaders: junior Francesca Gonzales is second with 10 (one of only two players in the league in double digits, joining Cal Poly's Krysten Cary), sophomore Torrie Anderson is third with nine, and senior Courtney Martinez is in a four-way tie for eighth with five.
YOU'VE GOTTA EARN IT: Sophomore righthander Ari Cervantes has allowed only two earned runs in her last 36 2/3 innings pitched, posting a 4-1 record and a 0.38 ERA in that stretch. She has won eight of her last nine starts during a stretch that includes four shutouts and is 9-2 with a 1.46 ERA in 13 appearances during Big West Conference play.
PERFECT 10: Junior Francesca Gonzales slugged her 10th home run of the season against Long Beach State on April 25, becoming the first Titan to hit double digits in home runs since Jessica Doucette slugged 11 home runs in 2007. One more long ball by Gonzales would move her into a tie for ninth on the school's single-season list with Doucette and Chris Zboril (1996) while three more home runs this season would tie her with four other players for fifth place.
NEW GAME, DIFFERENT HERO: In Fullerton's 26 victories this season, the Titans have had nine different players account for the game-winning RBI while 13 different Fullerton baserunners have been in the right place at the right time to come around to score the game-winning run.
BETCHA CAN'T SCORE JUST ONE: Fullerton has made a habit of having big innings in 2009, scoring multiple runs in 34 of a possible 84 scoring innings - a 41 percent clip.
"EXTRA" EFFORT IN BIG WEST PLAY: The Titans' offense has gone the extra mile (or 60 feet if you will) since the start of Big West play, crushing a league-best 42 extra base hits - including a league-high 25 doubles and 16 home runs. Cal Poly is a distant second in that category with 28 hits for extra bases followed by UC Riverside (27) and Long Beach State (26).
(TRIPLE) CROWN JEWEL: Junior Francesca Gonzales is on the verge of winning the team's triple crown as she leads the team with her .311 batting average and 10 home runs while standing just six RBI back of sophomore Torrie Anderson. Should Gonzales catch her teammate in that final category, she would become the first player to win the team's triple crown since Jenny Topping last accomplished the feat in 2003 (.438-10-36) and only the fifth in school history (Topping, Stephenie Little, Senetha Thomas, and Sue Lewis).
THERE IS NO DEFENSE FOR THAT: Of Cal State Fullerton's last 10 victories, seven have been thanks to home runs. Of the Titans' 26 victories overall this season, 11 have come via the long ball - including six solo shots - and have been hit by five different players. Overall this season, Fullerton is 20-7 when they hit a home run.
"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 four-game winning streak and posting a 21-8 record over their last 29 games. In that stretch, Fullerton is hitting .267 as a team while holding an 117-79 scoring advantage and slugging 26 home runs. The pitching staff has also gotten stronger, posting a 1.81 ERA (including an 15-5 mark and a 1.59 ERA by Ari Cervantes) and holding opponents to a .220 batting average.
TURN TWO: 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 21 double plays turned this season. The Titans are also among the nation's best at "turning two," standing at No. 13 in the nation with 0.47 per game and are tied for 19th with their 21 turned overall.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?: Fullerton's pitching staff ranks second in the league in strikeouts looking with 79 on the season, trailing only Pacific (82) in that category. Sophomore Ari Cervantes ranks second in the league individually, as 47 of her 112 strikeout victims left with the bat on their shoulder, while Heinle is sixth in the Big West with 31 batters caught staring this season. Both hurlers also rank among the league's top 10 in strikeouts overall with Cervantes standing fourth entering the week and Heinle ninth with 86 overall.
"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 six of the last eight runners trying to steal against her and 12 of her last 25 (48 percent) overall. This coming after a slow start that saw her erase just one of the first 31 would-be base stealers against her this season.
MARTINEZ BRUISES HER WAY TO THIRD: Senior Courtney Martinez was hit by a pitch for the 28th time in her career at UC Davis, moving her into sole possession 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 sixth with 26 in her career.
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), current Pacific head coach Brian Kolze (519 wins), and former UNLV coach Shan McDonald (350).
MILESTONE... PART DEUX: With the Titans' victory in the series finale against Long Beach State on April 26, head coach Michelle Gromacki became the fifth coach in Big West history to win at least 350 games overall and reach 150 conference victories. Gromacki, who won her 350th career game earlier this year on March 28 against Cal Poly, joins former Long Beach State skipper Pete Manarino (791/393), former Fullerton Hall of Fame Head Coach Judi Garman (581/302), current Pacific head coach Brian Kolze (519/210), and former UNLV head coach Shan McDonald (350/190) on that list.
MERCY ME: Cal State Fullerton has played extra-inning games four times 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 four times in its last 277 games dating back to 2005 (including an active streak of 68 straight 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).
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.