Top-Seeded Arizona On Deck as Titans Head Into Super Regional Play in Tucson
May 23, 2007
FULLERTON, CA - The Cal State Fullerton softball team (38-21 overall) might want to take its Willie Nelson CD's with them this weekend as the Titans are "On the Road Again," this time heading east for the NCAA Super Regional round in Tucson, Ariz. Fullerton will take on No. 1 national seed Arizona in a best-of-three series at Hillenbrand Stadium beginning on Saturday (May 26) at 5 p.m. Sunday's game two begins at noon with a third game to follow if needed.
Super Regional Schedule
Tucson, Ariz. - Hillenbrand Stadium
Saturday, May 26 @ 5 p.m. PDT (TV: ESPN)
Sunday, May 27 @ 12 p.m. PDT (TV: ESPNU)
Sunday, May 27 @ 2:30 p.m. PDT (if necessary...) (TV: ESPNU)
HI, MOM!: Cal State Fullerton will be featured on national TV this weekend as ESPN will televise the opener between the Titans and Wildcats with ESPNU picking up the second and third (if necessary) games of the series. It will be the first time this season that the Titans will be featured on national television.
ON THE AIR: All of Cal State Fullerton's games from Tucson will be carried live over the Internet at www.FullertonTitans.com with Mike Martinez handling the play-by-play from Hillenbrand Stadium. Live stats will be available through Arizona's athletics website at www.ArizonaAthletics.com and links to the stats will also be available on Fullerton's official athletics website.
IN THE POLLS: Arizona is the unanimous No. 4 team in the nation in both the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (as of May 9) and ESPN.com/USA Softball (as of May 15) coaches polls... Cal State Fullerton is receiving two votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and is not listed among the USA Today/NFCA ranks.
COLUMBUS REGIONAL RECAP: Cal State Fullerton enjoyed the entire regional experience last weekend in Columbus, Ohio, as the No. 3-seeded Titans lost their first game and came all the way back through the losers bracket, defeating host and No. 21-ranked Ohio State twice on Sunday to claim the regional championship and a berth in the super regional round. After falling to the host Buckeyes by a 2-1 score in the opener for both teams on Friday night (May 18), the Titans stormed back on Saturday with their backs against the wall, twice staving off elimination themselves by eliminating Canisius College (8-0 in five innings) and upsetting No. 16 national seed and No. 13-ranked Virginia Tech, 1-0, to send the Hokies home. That set up a rematch of the opener between Cal State Fullerton and Ohio State and the Titans brought their bats. Fullerton exploded for 16 runs in the final two games, hanging on to win the opener 6-5 before claiming the title with a 10-3 win in the nightcap before running to the bus in order to make their flight home. The two wins on Sunday by the Titans ended the Buckeyes hopes for a perfect record in their final season at Buckeye Stadium as Ohio State entered the day an unblemished 21-0 at home in 2007.
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM: Cal State Fullerton was playing in its third "Championship Sunday" under the direction of eighth-year head coach Michelle Gromacki, posting its first wins in a regional on a Sunday after going 0-3 in its previous two appearances. The Titans lost to California in 2002, 1-0, in Fresno, Calif., three years prior to watching host UCLA come out of the losers bracket to take a pair from the previously unbeaten Titans by the scores of 6-0 and 3-1 at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles.
I'M SUPER, THANKS FOR ASKING: Fullerton will be making its first-ever appearance in the super regional round since the format so familiar to college baseball fans was introduced to the college softball world in 2005.
LONG TIME IN COMING: Fullerton took home a regional championship for the first time in 12 years since the Titans' last regional win in 1995. That year, Fullerton defeated Illinois State, 9-1 (5), and swept a pair of one run contests from host Cal State Northridge by the scores of 1-0 and 2-1 (8 inn.) en route to the College World Series.
TITANS IN THE POSTSEASON: Cal State Fullerton is in the postseason for the 25th time in the 28-year history of the program, but the first time in super regional play... Fullerton is 68-50 all-time in the postseason since the program's inception in 1980, including a 56-44 mark in NCAA competition (not counting the AIAW years in 1980 and 1981)... Fullerton improved to 40-34 all-time in NCAA regional play with its performance in Columbus last weekend... The Titans are 16-10 in the Women's College World Series, including the 1986 national championship, but have not advanced to the pinnacle of the sport since 1995... Fullerton improved to 15-13 in the postseason under the direction of head coach Michelle Gromacki.
SERIES NOTES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Arizona, 27-23, but has lost the last two against its former conference rival in a sparsely played series... The Wildcats won the last meeting, 2-0, at the 2006 Kajikawa Classic in Phoenix, Ariz... Fullerton's last win against Arizona came on March 22, 2003, as the Titans took the second game of a doubleheader with the Wildcats, 15-3, at Hillenbrand Stadium... Cal State Fullerton has played in Tucson in the postseason twice: at the 2001 regionals hosted by the Wildcats and the 1995 Women's College World Series... Fullerton is 10-9 all-time against Arizona in Tucson.
ABOUT ARIZONA: The Wildcats enter the weekend with a 42-12-1 overall record and are coming off a relatively easy weekend at their own regional in Tucson, posting a 3-0 record without allowing a run in the regional tournament... Arizona opened with a 9-0 win over Howard in five innings and followed that up with shutouts against Mississippi State (8-0) and Pacific (7-0)... The Wildcats have won their last four straight since suffering back-to-back losses to UCLA and Washington on May 10-11... Arizona enters the weekend hitting .296 as a team led by Caitlin Lowe's .429 average and 55 runs scored... Three other players are hitting better than .300, including Kristie Fox, who is batting .325 with team high's in home runs (14) and RBI (59)... Taryne Mowatt is the ace in the circle for the Wildcats, starting 43 of the team's 55 games in the circle this season, posting a 34-10 overall record with a 1.61 ERA... Mowatt has struck out 433 batters in 296 innings and has held opponents to a .156 batting average this season.
BAKER GETS THE BIG ONE: Cal State Fullerton senior right-hander Candice Baker became the school's all-time career strikeouts leader in Sunday's 6-5 victory over Ohio State, striking out the Buckeyes' Christina Douglas to lead off the fourth inning for her 703rd career "K," passing Susan LeFebvre, whose record had stood since 1986. Baker finished the regional with 16 strikeouts and stands at 706 for her career heading into this weekend's play.
BACK-TO-BACK: Baker's game one win over Ohio State on Sunday gave her 20 wins for the season, becoming only the seventh Titan pitcher - and the first since Jennifer Mortensen in 1994-95 - to log back-to-back 20-win seasons in the history of the program. In the process, Baker became the 23rd pitcher to reach the 20-win plateau in a single-season.
MVP PERFORMANCE: If there were an MVP of last weekend's NCAA regionals in Columbus, one would think that senior Candice Baker would be a lock for the award. Of the 32 possible innings pitched by the Titans this past weekend, Baker threw a total of 29 of those innings, going 4-1 with a 0.72 ERA in five appearances, striking out 16 and holding the opposition to a .144 batting average. She was no slouch at the plate either, hitting .444 (4-for-9) with four runs scored, three walks, a double, two triples, a home run, and six RBI to go with a .615 on base percentage and a 1.333 slugging percentage.
SOMEBODY ATE HER WHEATIES: Junior Jessica Doucette was the offensive catalyst for the Titans this weekend at Ohio State, hitting .412 (7-for-17) from the leadoff spot in the Fullerton lineup with five runs scored, a pair of doubles, three home runs and nine RBI in the five games. She slugged 1.059 on the weekend and also added a walk and a stolen base.
TITANS SURPASS '06 WIN TOTAL: With their regional clinching victory over Ohio State on Sunday, Cal State Fullerton posted its 38th victory on the year - surpassing the win total for all of last season. The Titans have reached 30 victories for the seventh time in eight years under head coach Michelle Gromacki and, with two more wins, will reach 40 victories for the 18th time in the history of the program.
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. 12 in fielding percentage (and first in the Big West) with a .973 mark and No. 6 in the country in double plays per game (and first in the Big West) at 0.51 per game. Fullerton also ranks No. 6 in the NCAA with 30 double plays this season. If the season ended today, the Titans would set school records for both fielding percentage and fewest errors (46) for the second consecutive season.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: Cal State Fullerton reached double digits in runs scored for the seventh time this season in Sunday's 10-3 regional-clinching victory over Ohio State and also posted double-digit hits for the 11th time this year. Cal State Fullerton is a combined 10-2 in games where it reaches double-digits in either column and 6-0 this year when they accomplish both in the same game.
THESE CHICKS DIG THE LONG BALL: Cal State Fullerton slugged a home run in each of their five games last weekend in Columbus - including a trio of long balls by junior Jessica Doucette on the tournament's final day - as the Titans improved to 24-9 overall this season when slugging a home run. Fullerton, which ranks No. 54 in the NCAA with 0.54 home runs per game, has hit a home run in each of its last six games and in eight of its last 10 contests. Courtney Martinez had a solo home run in the opener against Ohio State, Katie Gollhardt added one against Canisius, Candice Baker slugged the game-winner against Virginia Tech, and Ashley Van Boxmeer joined Doucette's hit parade with a two-run shot in Sunday's second game against the Buckeyes.
GOING DEEP: Fullerton's 49 home runs this season lead the Big West Conference and, with one more long ball in 2007, this year's Titans can become only the fourth team in the history of the program to hit 50 home runs in a season - all coming in the last nine years. The school record for home runs was set by the 2002 squad, which hit 65 round-trippers en route to a 53-13 overall record.
DROUGHT OVER?: Van Boxmeer's home run against Ohio State snapped a seven-game homerless streak for the senior outfielder dating back to the series finale against Cal Poly on May 6. Her 2-for-2 performance at the plate against the Buckeyes in the regional finale also snapped a devastating 1-for-26 (.038) skid in the postseason for Van Boxmeer since going 3-for-3 with a pair of home runs in the Titans' 2005 regional opener at UCLA's Easton Stadium against UNLV.
YOU CAN PUT IT ON THE BOARD...: With two wins on Sunday, Fullerton improved to 32-4 when it puts the first run on the board and has done so in each of its last four games.
RUN, FERNANDEZ, RUN: Junior Amanda Fernandez ran wild this past weekend in Columbus, posting a perfect 3-for-3 record in stolen bases in regional play and moved her perfect mark to 11-for-11 overall on the year. With one more steal, Fernandez will move into a tie for 10th on the school's single-season list with Elise King's 1983 total.
GET ON YOUR HORSE: Amanda Fernandez wasn't the only Titan running well this past weekend as Fullerton swiped 10 bases in 11 attempts in regional play as Crystal Vieyra also finished 3-for-3 and Candice Baker stole a pair of her own. Baker now has 31 steals in her stellar career, placing her in a tie for fifth on the school's all-time list with Carey Hess (1987-90).
SPEED DEMONS: Cal State Fullerton's 47 stolen bases this season rank tied for seventh on the school's all-time list and are the most for a Titans' squad since the 1994 team set the school record with 88 steals.
LAST ONE LEFT STANDING: After five schools from the Big West Conference earned berths into the 2007 NCAA Tournament, Cal State Fullerton is the only one left standing as the tournament enters its "Sweet 16" phase. League champion Cal Poly, Cal State Northridge, and UC Santa Barbara each went 0-2 at the Provo, Utah, Palo Alto and Los Angeles regionals, respectively. Pacific, which finished in fourth place in the Big West standings at the end of the regular season, was the only other conference school to make the "Championship Sunday" field, needing to beat Arizona twice, but falling in the first game by a score of 7-0 to see its season come to an end.
GO TWO, GO TWO: Junior Jessica Doucette's 17 doubles rank tied for second in the Big West Conference this season and is just shy of the school single-season record of 19 two-baggers shared by Jenny Topping (2001) and Sue Lewis (1981). Doucette's 0.29 doubles per game this season ranks No. 34 in the nation.
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 171 consecutive games.
NO HITS FOR YOU: The Cal State Fullerton pitching staff has been really stingy with the hits this season as its .201 average against leads the Big West Conference entering the super regional round. All three of the Titans' pitchers rank among the league's stingiest as Candice Baker ranks second in the Big West with a .176 average against followed by Jessica Doucette in fifth (.230) and Brooke Weekley in sixth place (.233).
NO PLACE LIKE... AWAY FROM HOME?: Cal State Fullerton's trip to Columbus this weekend turned out to be a blessing in disguise... at least when it comes to the Titans' offense. Fullerton improved its record to 24-10 in games away from Anderson Family Field this season while the offense also saw improvement as the Titans have combined to hit .263 (240-for-914) as a team with 28 home runs and a 154-69 scoring advantage. Compare that to Fullerton's numbers at home as the Titans hit only .254 in 25 games and trailed by a 93-90 count on the scoreboard. The pitching staff has also benefited from unfamiliar surroundings as the Titans have posted a 1.59 ERA on the road to their 2.71 ERA at home in 2007.
GOTTA WIN THE CLOSE ONES: Cal State Fullerton has been in just about every game they have played this season as almost half of its games (29 of 59) have been decided by two runs or less. The Titans are 17-12 overall in those games, winning 10 of their last 13 such contests., but their offense has struggled, hitting just .229 (179-for-782) as a team while hitting just .189 with runners in scoring position. Fullerton's defense, however, has done its part in keeping the Titans close, posting a 1.87 ERA and holding opponents to a .180 (136-for-755) batting average while fielding at a .976 clip and committing only 22 errors in 899 chances.
HOME SWEET HOME: Fullerton's 14-11 mark at Anderson Family Field in 2007 marked the 26th time in 28 seasons that the Titans have posted a winning record on their home turf.
SAVE ME: Baker's five saves this season rank her in a tie for fifth on the school's single season list with Christy Robitaille's 1999 mark while Baker's seven career saves also place her in a tie for second with Susan LeFebvre's total from 1983-96. Robitaille holds both Cal State Fullerton's career (15) and single season (8 in 2000) marks.
"BOX" BOMBS HER WAY CLOSER: Cal State Fullerton senior Ashley Van Boxmeer slugged the 32nd home run of her career (and her ninth of the season) in Sunday's regional finale against Ohio State, keeping her in sole possession of third place on the school's all-time list. She is just one long-ball back of tying All-American Jenny Topping, who hit 33 home runs as a Titan from 2001-03, for second place, but 15 shy of Yasmin Mossadeghi's career mark of 47 hit from 1999-2002.
"S.O.S": As in "Save Our Scorers." Of Cal State Fullerton's 22 runners left on base this past weekend in Columbus, 18 of those would be runs were left in scoring position. It is only a small, but representative, sample of the Titans' struggles for the clutch hit this year as Fullerton is batting only .247 with runners in scoring position overall this season and has stranded 134 runners on base - 78 of those in scoring position (58 percent) - in its 21 losses this year.
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 Conference-best (or worst depending on your view) 15th time against UC Riverside - placing her tied for fourth on the school's single-season list, just five short of the school record held by Amanda Hockett (20 in 2002). In only her first season as a Titan, her 15 HBPs also put her sixth on the school's career list. Among the most oft-hit players in the NCAA this season, Lupinetti ranks No. 18 in the nation with 0.25 per game.
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. 30 with one strikeout in every 18.6 at bats and has struck out only nine times in 167 at bats overall this season.
TITANS IN THE NCAA: Fullerton's 2.07 ERA as a team ranks No. 41 in the nation... the Titans' .644 winning percentage ranks No. 53 in the NCAA... Candice Baker ranks No. 82 in ERA (1.93), No. 59 in strikeouts per seven innings (7.6), No. 44 in wins (21), and tied for No. 6 in saves (5)... Brooke Weekley ranks No. 52 in saves (3)... Ashley Van Boxmeer ranks No. 91 in walks per game (0.53)... Courtney Martinez ranks No. 18 in sacrifice hits per game (0.31).