FULLERTON, Calif.-- The Cal State Fullerton softball team begins play this weekend co-hosting the Louisville Slugger Invitational with Long Beach State. Fullerton will have a full slate of five games with one of Thursday versus Oregon State, two on Friday, against Louisville and Northwestern, and two on Saturday, competing with Nevada and Illinois. All Fullerton games will be played 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.
IN THE POLLS: Neither the Titans, Beavers, Cardinals, Wildcats, Wolfpack or Fighting Illini are currently ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Coaches or USA Today/NFCA Coaches polls. Cal State Fullerton did receive (4/2) votes to enter the polls, as did Northwestern (21/19) and Louisville (1/2).
ABOUT OREGON STATE: The Beavers are off to a 5-11 start to the season while still seeking their first road victory (0-2). A native of West Hills, Calif., Dani Gilmore leads Oregon State with a .360 batting avg., 16 runs scored, 18 hits, five home runs and 12 RBI. Fullerton owns a slight edge over the Beavers with an all-time record of 10-9, most recently with a 5-2 defeat in Fullerton, Calif., in the 2012 campaign.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals are lead by a senior tandem in the pitching circle between Rachel LeCoq and Caralisa Connell. LeCoq posts a record of 2-3 with 37 innings pitched, 34 strikeouts along with a (3.41) ERA. Connell enters the tourney sporting a 3-3 record, one complete game, 34.2 total innings pitched while yielding a (3.43) ERA. The Cardinals are on a three-game winning streak out scoring their opponents 23-3 over that span.
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN: The Wildcats are led by sophomore Kristen Wood in the circle posting a (4.36) ERA, marking five wins, and 47 strikeouts over 43.1 innings of work. Northwestern most recently competed in the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs posting a 3-2 record including an upset over No. 3 Washington, 4-2. CSF owns an overall record of 16-9 against the Wildcats all time, including a 13-5 home record.
ABOUT NEVADA: The Wolfpack have posted a record of 10-5 on the season, most recently competing in the Grand Canyon tournament in Phoenix, Ariz. Nevada posted a 2-3 record with the two victories coming over Southern Utah, 6-4 and 10-0. The Wolfack are led by Redlands, Calif., native Amanda Weis who has manufactured 33 total bases, 13 hits, five doubles, five home runs to go along with a .342 batting avg.
ABOUT ILLINOIS: The Fighting Illini enter the tournament sporting a 11-3 record and are led by freshman pitcher Brandi Needham. The right-hander has marked 49.1 innings of work yielding eight earned runs, fanning 26 while posting a (1.14) ERA. Illinois will compete against, Oregon State, Utah Valley and Nevada before facing the Titans in the Louisville Slugger Invitational.
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.
GOLDEN GLOVE SAM: Infielder Samantha Galarza has rarely made errors in her 17 starts to the season. In fact, Galarza is error-less in every single Titans game this year yielding a 1.000 fielding percentage. Along with committing zero errors, the sophomore has generated 22 put outs and 31 assists defensively.
LEADING OFF TO SCORE: Transfer Missy Taukeiaho is currently leading the Big West in runs scored with 15 on the season. Taukeiaho has started all 17 games in the leadoff position and it's clear that her .492 (fifth in the Big West) on base percentage is paying dividends when batting in the one-hole.
HOME SWEET HOME: The Titans have marked a 7-1 record while playing at home including a stunning victory over then No. 2 Oklahoma in the Easton Tournament. On the road or in a neutral contest, CSF is a combined 4-5. The Titans look to capitalize on their home field advantage as CSF is in the midst of an 18-game home stand at Anderson Family Field.
MAKING THE SACRIFICE: Senior catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama leads the team as well as the Big West in sacrifice bunts with five in 2014. Tsuchiyama's execution to move the runner over has been intricate in the Titans 16 runs scored in the first inning along with an 8-1 record when the team scores first.
LET IT BE THE FIFTH: The Titans are sporting a perfect 7-0 record when the team is leading after the fifth inning while marking an 0-5 record when CSF is trailing. The Titans pitching staff have only allowed 11 combined runs in the sixth and seventh innings to preserve the victory.
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.