FULLERTON, Calif. - The Cal State Fullerton softball team begins play this week traveling to Honolulu, Hawai'i to compete in a three-game series against defending Big West champions Hawai'i beginning on Friday (9 p.m. PDT) and concluding with a doubleheader on Saturday (5 p.m. and 7 p.m. PDT). The Titans will then return home to host No. 1 UCLA for a single game on Thursday at Anderson Family Field in Fullerton, Calif.
TV SCHEDULE CHANGES VS LBSU: In order to accommodate tv broadcasts on ESPNU/ESPN3, the Titans three-game series with the Long Beach State has been revised to the following dates and times: Wednesday, April 16 first pitch 4 p.m. (ESPNU); Thursday, April 17 doubleheader 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (ESPN3). All games will be contested at Anderson Family Field in Fullerton, Calif.
BE A FOLLOWER: Fans can keep up with the latest in Titan athletics by following us on Facebook (CSUF Athletics), Twitter(@FullertonTitans) and Youtube (www.youtube.com/CSFAthletics). Also follow the softball Twitter (@CSUFsoftball).
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.
ARE YOU LISTENING? WATCH OUT!: Cal State Fullerton home softball contests will be broadcast live over the Internet at FullertonTitans.com. The Titans also offer live streaming video for home softball contests over the Internet courtesy of the Big West TV. Fans can catch all the exclusive action from the comfort of their home computers. To access the links, click on the audio or live video link on the schedule page. There will also be an opportunity to see the Titans compete in Hawai'i, visit the schedule page!
IN THE POLLS: In the ESPN.com/USA Softball Coaches and USA Today/NFCA Coaches polls, the Bruins of UCLA are an almost unanimous pick as the No. 1 team in the nation, receiving a combined 47 first-place votes. The Titans have received one vote to enter the ESPN.com/USA poll, while Hawai'i remains unranked.
SIZING UP IN THE RPI: The Titans currently rank 44th in the nation in Rating Percentage Index (RPI). RPI measures a team's wins and losses and its strength of schedule. Fullerton has played against two teams currently ranked in the top-10 and against six teams in the top-25.
TITANS VERSUS RANKED TEAMS*
DATE OPPONENT LOCATION RESULT
FEB. 7 No. 2 Oklahoma Fullerton, Calif. W, 3-1
FEB. 15 No. 23 California San Diego, Calif. L, 4-5
FEB. 21 No. 15 Baylor Palm Springs, Calif. W, 6-1
FEB. 21 No. 23 LSU Palm Springs, Calif. L, 1-8
FEB. 22 No. 24 Notre Dame Palm Springs, Calif. L, 0-8
FEB. 25 No. 2 Tennessee Fullerton, Calif. L, 4-8
MAR. 8 No. 14 Nebraska Fullerton, Calif. L, 2-9
MAR. 8 No. 7 Arizona Fullerton, Calif. L, 0-15
*Ranking when game occurred
ABOUT HAWAI'I: Last week, the 'Bows won a mid-week doubleheader, with a pair of come-from-behind wins over UMKC (Missouri-Kansas City) and Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles before heading to UC Riverside where they swept the Highlanders to start the conference season 3-0. Junior first baseman Leisha Li'ili'i led UH in the five games, hitting .471 (8-for-17) with two doubles and one home run. Li'ili'i leads with a team-high .378 average (34-for-90), nine home runs, 23 RBI and 19 walks. Junior Keiki Carlos is second overall with a .363 average with a team-high eight doubles, 25 runs scored, and 37 hits. UH's pitchers also fared well this past week as both Loie Kesterson and Heather Morales posted 2.00 ERA's. Sophomore southpaw Kesterson fired three complete game wins while Morales hung tough to go 2-0 with a pair of complete game victories. Overall, Kesterson raised her record to 10-5 while Morales is now 8-6 in 18 appearances.
The top-ranked Bruins are led by Pac-12 Player of the Week junior Stephany LaRosa who helped UCLA to a doubleheader win over UC Santa Barbara and a three-game sweep of Utah last week. LaRosa reached base in all five games, homering in three of them and recording eight hits in 13 at-bats for a .615 batting average with eight runs batted in. The Bruins pitching staff between Ally Carda, Jessica Hall and Paige McDuffee is one of the most elite in the nation. Carda has tossed 123 and 2/3 innings while striking out a whopping 138 batters over that span along with a 19-1 record, 12 complete games and a (0.79) ERA. Hall has paced the Bruins with an 11-1 mark, eight complete games and an ERA of (0.92). McDuffee has chipped in two complete games over 26 innings to go along with a (1.62) ERA and a team-low (.169) batting average against her.
MISS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore Missy Taukeiaho batted .643 (9-for-14) with nine runs scored and 12 RBI to garner her second Big West Softball Field Player of the Week Award on Mar. 31. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native collected three multi-hit games and four multi-run scoring games. Her performance translated into a (1.571) slugging percentage and (.750) on-base percentage while drawing six walks. The transfer leads the Big West in home runs (12), total bases (85), runs scored (36), RBI (32), walks (23), slugging percentage (.810) and on base percentage (.519).
HEAD COACH FORD STRIVING FOR NO. 50: After capturing a total of 500 wins as a Head Coach between Mt. SAC JC and Cal State Fullerton earlier this year, Kelly Ford is looking to mark another milestone. The Portland, Ore., native is one win shy of victory No. 50 at the Division I level. It won't come easy as the Titans have defending Big West champions Hawai'i and first-ranked UCLA on the horizon.
TIED UP FOR GOOD: Due to darkness and the lack of lights at Bakersfield on Mar. 26, the Titans and the Roadrunners finished the game in a 10-10 tie. This was the first decision of this type since Feb. 17 of 2008 when Cal State Fullerton and the Texas Longhorns ended in a 4-4 tie.
I'LL HAVE THE GRAND SLAM PLEASE: Fullerton opened up conference play with two victories against UC Santa Barbara including an 11-7 come-from-behind thriller in the Titans annual Pink Day game on Mar. 30. Taukeiaho blasted a grand slam in the third inning to erase a five-run lead while Samantha Galarza launched another four-bagger to break a 7-7 tie to stun the Gauchos and capture the series. The slugfest remarkably produced three total grand slams as UCSB accounted for another.
OUTBURST IN THE FIRST: The Titans offense manufactured seven hits en route to a season-high seven run opening frame against UC Santa Barbara on Mar. 29. The first inning barrage included two doubles and two sacrifice flys en route to a 10-0 shutout over the Gauchos.
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL: Fullerton has played exceptional in the field marking a (.966) fielding percentage, good for second-best in the Big West. The Titans post the second-lowest errors total with 34 on the season, 18 less than the league leader UC Riverside with 52. Out of the nine individuals in all of the Big West who own a (1.000) fielding percentage, four wear a Titans uniform, Crawford, Harris, Mario and Jena Rubio.
KEEP THE STREAKS ALIVE: Transfer Taukeiaho has raked a career-high seven-game hitting streak while reaching base in a team-high 11 consecutive games. Batting from the lead off position in all 35 games, the sophomore is posting a (.519) on base percentage to go along with a (.810) slugging percentage. Senior outfielder Lauren Mario is also on a career-high five game hitting streak.
POWER SURGE!: In 2014, Cal State Fullerton is second in the Big West in home runs with 39 for the season. Leading the way for the Titans is Taukeiaho with 12 round-trippers, followed closely by Crawford with nine long balls. Fullerton trails Hawai'i (40) and leads Long Beach State (31) for overall home run totals.
20-20 VISION AT THE PLATE: Cal State Fullerton leads the Big West in drawing base on balls with 110 as a team, 12 more than the nearest competitor Hawai'i with 98. Four Titans have eclipsed double-digits in walks, Taukeiaho with 23, Eliza Crawford with 17, Ariel Tsuchiyama registering 14 and Gabby Aragon has drawn 12 free passes.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: The Titans have used their speed to challenge opposing catchers stealing at least one base in seven out of the past 10 contests. Fullerton swiped a season-high four bags in a 10-2 rout over Canisius on Mar. 17 and is 29-for-38 (76%) on stole base attempts good for fourth in the league.
WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!: Four different Titans have provided a game-winning RBI to topple their competition. Taukeiaho and Aragon lead the team with seven game-winning RBI hits apiece, respectively. The pair is followed by Eliza Crawford (3), Samantha Galarza (2), Melissa Sechrest (1) and Lauren Mario (1). Amongst the 18 hits in total, 10 of those are of home run fashion.
NO 2-FOR-1 SPECIAL HERE: The Titans have used their base running abilities to stay away from grounding into double plays this season. Remarkably, Fullerton is the only team in the Big West that that is yet to do such a thing, with UC Davis and Hawai'i leading the league being doubled up 8 times each.
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 59 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:
1. Hawai'i (4), 59
2. Long Beach State (3), 55
3. Cal State Fullerton (1), 46
4. UC Santa Barbara, 40
5. UC Davis, 30
6. Cal Poly, 25
7. Cal State Northridge, 24
8. UC Riverside, 9
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 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 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 Taukeiaho. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. native is looking to make an immediate impact to the offensive potency of the 2014 Titans.