Big West Title, NCAA Berth Up For Grabs in Season's Final Weekend

May 11, 2006


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The Big West Conference championship and the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament will come down to the final weekend of the regular season with Cal State Fullerton controlling its own destiny. The Titans (33-22, 11-4 in league play) host a three-game series against last-place UC Riverside this weekend at Anderson Field with a doubleheader beginning on Friday afternoon (May 12) at 4 p.m. and the regular season finale on Saturday (May 13) at noon featuring a pregame ceremony saluting the Titans' four departing seniors.

Cal State Fullerton enters the final season of regular season play in a dead heat with arch-rival Long Beach State for the 2006 Big West Conference championship with identical 11-4 league records. Should the two teams end up tied following this weekend's finales, the Titans will earn the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament by virtue of taking two-of-three from the 49ers in mid-April. Both Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State lead third-place Cal Poly by two games as the Mustangs are the only squad close enough to usurp the current league leaders atop the final standings.

The Titans rank among those teams receiving votes for the third consecutive week, earning three votes in Tuesday's Softball Coaches Poll and seven votes according to the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll... Fullerton appears in the USA Softball poll for the third straight week after a three-week absence and has appeared in that poll for all but four weeks this season... The Titans are receiving votes for the fourth straight week by the NFCA after a seven-week absence.

The field of 64 teams for the 2006 NCAA Tournament will be aired live on ESPNEWS at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon (May 14). Check local listings for channel information.

Cal State Fullerton owns a 15-1 advantage in the series with UC Riverside, winning the last four meetings dating back to its first loss in the series in 2004 (a 3-2 defeat at home on May 1)... The Titans are 7-1 against the Highlanders at home and a perfect 8-0 in Riverside dating back to 1985... Fullerton swept the season series last year by a combined 18-9 score in Riverside.

UC RIVERSIDE: The Highlanders have lost seven in a row dating back to April and enter the final weekend of the regular season with a 22-24 overall record and a 2-13 mark in Big West play. UCR was swept last weekend by UC Santa Barbara, losing the first game 4-0 before a pair of 2-1 losses in game Nos. 2 and 3.

Postseason honors candidate Melissa Sanchez powers the Highlander offense, hitting .441 with nine home runs and 29 RBI. She leads the league in batting and on base percentage (.566) while ranking second in slugging (.766), fourth in home runs, and seventh in RBI.

Freshman right-hander Stephanie Marshall paces the UCR pitching staff, posting a 13-11 overall record with a 2.59 ERA in her rookie season. She has struck out 104 in just over 140 innings and is holding opposing hitters to a .230 average.

Sophomore Christin Songer (7-6, 3.65 ERA) and junior Sara Radabaugh (2-6, 3.81) have also seen significant action with 10 or more starts apiece in the circle.


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