FULLERTON, Calif.--The Titans begin play this weekend traveling to Cathedral City, Calif., to compete in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Fullerton will have a full slate of four games with two on Friday, against Baylor and LSU, and two on Saturday, competing with Notre Dame and Boise State. After the tournament, CSF will host Tennessee on Tuesday at Anderson Family Field in Fullerton, Calif.
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I NEED STATS, STAT!: Live stats will be provided for all games this week. To access live stats for the games, go to www.FullertonTitans.com and go to the softball schedule page then click live stats.
FORD PREVIEWS 2014: Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Kelly Ford at down with the sports information staff to discuss the upcoming 2014 campaign. Filmed by department videographer Matt Brown, fans can view the entire video via Youtube.com/CSFAthletics.
IN THE POLLS: The Titans will face four top-25 programs this week. In the ESPN.com/USA Softball Coaches and USA Today/NFCA Coaches polls, CSF will compete against No. 3/2 Tennessee, No. 15/15 Baylor, No. 23/23 LSU, and No. 24/24 Notre Dame. Neither the Titans or Broncos are currently in the polls.
ABOUT LSU: Sophomore Sandra Simmons leads the charge for the Tigers, batting with a .379 avg., 13 runs scored, two doubles, and two home runs on the year. LSU has most recently split a series with Penn St., winning 11-3 in the first game and dropping the final game 6-5 in Baton Rouge, La.
ABOUT NOTRE DAME: The Fighting Irish is led by Allie Rhodes in the circle posting a team-low (0.50) ERA, marking three wins, 16 strikeouts over 14 innings of work. CSF owns an overall record of 8-4 against the Irish all time, though the last meeting ending in favor of Notre Dame, 16-0 in 2012 at Fullerton.
ABOUT BOISE STATE: The Broncos have posted a record of 4-6 on the season, most recently competing in the Easton Classic in Las Vegas, alternating wins and loss for a 3-2 record to finish the tournament. Boise State is led by typical leadoff batter Tara Glover who has manufactured 13 total bases, nine hits, four runs scored and one home run for the Broncos.
ABOUT TENNESSEE: Unblemished at 9-0, the Volunteers are led by senior Melissa Davin who has posted a .345 avg., nine runs scored, two doubles, four home runs and 10 RBI. Tennessee will compete against Nebraska, Oregon State, Stanford and Fresno State in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
DOUBLE-DIGITS: Missy Taukeiaho, Gabby Aragon, Desiree Ybarra, Leesa Harris and Ariel Tsuchiyama have all eclipsed 10 or more hits on the season for the Titans. Taukeiaho leads the group with 15 hits, followed by Ybarra, Aragon and Tsuchiyama with 12 and Harris with 10 on the year. Taukeiaho is the only Titan of the bunch to mark double-digits in runs scored with 12 on the season.
OUT OF THE GATES EARLY: Cal State Fullerton is making a living scoring early with a season-high 15 runs scored in the first inning of the game over the season. This is followed by the third inning (14 runs) and fourth inning (10 runs). The Titans have an overall 63-28 scoring advantage combined against opponents thus far in the season included a 7-1 record when the Titans score first.
SIZZLIN' YBARRA: Junior Desiree Ybarra has swung a hot bat of late, batting 7-for-13 over the past four games for the Titans, producing one double, one home run, and two RBI over that span. Ybarra led CSF to two wins in the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego, 3-1 victory against Saint Mary's and a 4-2 triumph versus Texas State on Feb. 14.
THE .300 CLUB: The Fullerton offense is currently swinging at a .308 avg., which is good for third-best in the Big West behind UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State. Four Titans hold an avg. above the .350 clip, Taukeiaho (.429), Aragon (.364), Tsuchiyama (.353) and Ybarra (.353). Sophomore Taukeiaho is currently fourth in the Big West in individual batting average.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Fullerton finished third in the Big West race a season ago with a 13-11 mark in conference play to go along with a 28-28 overall record. The Titans return six position starters and three pitchers while welcoming 18 newcomers to the fold for the 2014 season. Leading the way for returners is senior catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama, an all-conference first-team selection who hit .323 to go along with 50 hits and 25 runs batted in. In the circle, sophomore Jasmine Antunez returns after earning the Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors a season ago, finishing 18-14 with a 2.58 ERA, 174 strikeouts and even a no-hitter on her resume vs. UNLV.
NEWCOMERS: Although the 2014 Titans return dynamic seniors Jena Rubio, Leesa Harris, Gabby Aragon, Lauren Mario and Ariel Tsuchiyama, there are plenty of young talent on this seasons roster. Coach Kelly Ford's team consists of eight freshmen, six of which are position players and the remaining two on the pitching staff. Freshman Christina Washington is looking to have a promising season pitching in the circle, alongside now sophomore Jasmine Antunez who had similar expectations one year ago. Three Titans have transferred to the 2014 team, one being to watch is University of Washington transfer Missy Taukeiaho. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. native is looking to make an immediate impact to the offensive potency of the 2014 Titans.
BIG WEST OUTLOOK: The Titans were picked to finish third in the Big West Conference in 2014 as selected by the eight head coaches in the annual preseason poll. Defending conference champion Hawai'i, collected four first place votes and 76 points overall and are favored to repeat after making a big splash in 2013 by capturing the crown in their return to the Big West after a 16 season hiatus. Runner-up in the polls was Long Beach State who garnered three first place votes and 55 overall. UC Santa Barbara was fourth in the polls with 40 points, while UC Davis rounded out the top five at 30 points.