Feb. 10, 2010
FULLERTON, CA -
FIRST PITCH: The first pitch of the 2010 Cal State Fullerton softball season will be thrown this weekend as the Titans travel east to the desert for this year's Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. Fullerton will take on opponents from the SEC, Big Ten, Summit League, and Pacific-10 conferences in the four-day event that begins on Thursday (Feb. 11) and runs through Sunday (Feb. 14).
KAJIKAWA SCHEDULE: The Titans' five-game schedule breaks down as follows. All five games will be played at the Tempe Sports Complex off Carver Rd. and Hardy Dr. A complete schedule, directions to the complex, and map is available on the ASU softball page at www.thesundevils.com.
Friday, Feb. 12 vs. Kentucky - 2 p.m. (Southwest Field)
Friday, Feb. 12 vs. \#15 Northwestern - 7 p.m. (Northwest Field)
Saturday, Feb. 13 vs. Southern Utah - 12:30 p.m. (Southwest Field)
Saturday, Feb. 13 vs. Wisconsin - 3 p.m. (Southwest Field)
Sunday, Feb. 14 vs. \#6 Arizona - 1:30 p.m. (Northeast Field)
IN THE POLLS: Cal State Fullerton is one of 22 teams receiving votes in the 2010 USA Today/NFCA preseason coaches poll, gaining 17 votes in the first ranking of the season... Arizona is the highest-ranked opponent for the Titans this weekend, standing at No. 6 in the NFCA poll while Northwestern enters the season ranked No. 15... Kentucky is also among those receiving votes with 11... Fullerton is not listed in the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason poll... Arizona is No. 4 (with a first-place vote) and Northwestern is No. 17 in that poll with Kentucky receiving 26 votes from the panel.
I NEED STATS, STAT!: For those unable to make the trip to Arizona, selected games from Tempe will be available via CBS College Sports' Gametracker interface depending on reliable internet connections. Check the schedule page at FullertonTitans.com for the links.
ABOUT KENTUCKY: Kentucky opens its 2010 season this season coming off of the most successful season in school history, posting a 34-23 overall record and a 13-14 mark in the SEC for fourth place in the league's Eastern Division... the Wildcats finished 2-2 in their first NCAA Regional a season ago before falling to host Ohio State for a Super Regional berth... Kentucky returns 16 letterwinners, eight starters, and its entire pitching rotation from that squad... senior shortstop Molly Johnson returns for her final season to lead the offense after hitting .433 with nine home runs, 34 RBI, and 53 runs scored as a junior while starting all 57 games... sophomore Chanda Bell was the ace in the circle a season ago, finishing 19-8 in 26 starts with a 3.25 ERA and 216 strikeouts in 180 innings, holding opponents to a .212 average.
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN: No. 15 Northwestern enters the weekend coming off of a 31-15 season where the Wildcats finished 14-6 in the Big Ten for third place... Northwestern advanced to the NCAA Regionals last season, falling to Texas State and Louisiana-Lafayette to close out its season... the Wildcats return 13 letter winners and eight starters from a season ago... sophomore Adrienne Monka is the team's leading returning hitter after batting .392 with 19 home runs and 53 RBI a season ago en route to Big Ten Freshman of the Year and NFCA First-Team All-America honors at first base... senior Lauren Delaney returns as the workhorse in the circle, posting a 29-12 mark and a 2.60 ERA while pitching all but 31.1 innings as a junior... Delaney struck out 314 batters and held opponents to a .196 average last season, giving up just 186 hits in 269 innings.
ABOUT SOUTHERN UTAH: Southern Utah opens the season following a 24-31 campaign with a 14-11 mark in Summit League play for fourth place... the Thunderbirds return nine letter winners and seven starters from last season's squad... SUU returns its top three hitters from a season ago, paced by junior Aly Daniels, who hit .354 with seven home runs and 40 RBI while scoring 35 runs... senior lefthander Kristina Brooks leads the pitching staff after posting a 22-24 overall record and a 3.64 ERA, striking out 289 batters in 284.2 innings.
ABOUT WISCONSIN: Wisconsin kicks-off its 2010 season in Arizona after finishing 15-40 overall and 3-17 in the Big Ten Conference for last place... the Badgers return seven letter winners and five starters off of that squad that struggled down the stretch, losing 18 of its final 21 contests, but welcomes eight freshmen to the fold for 2010... junior outfielder Jennifer Krueger is the team's leading returning hitter, batting .323 with 21 runs scored in 53 starts... Wisconsin struggled to a .214 average as a team in 2009.... senior Letty Olivarez returns to lead the pitching staff after posting an 8-22 overall record and a 3.49 ERA, striking out 133 batters in 184.1 innings... opponents hit .255 against her a season ago.
ABOUT ARIZONA: Arizona enters the weekend after posting a 46-17 overall record and a 13-7 mark in Pac-10 play to finish third in the league... the Wildcats finished their year in the Women's College World Series, falling to Florida and Alabama in their opening two games after sweeping through regional play in three games and besting conference rival Stanford, two games to one, in the three-game super regional... Arizona returns seven position starters and 10 letter winners overall, but return just one pitcher off of last season's squad... junior Brittany Lastrapes returns to lead the offense after batting .481 with 17 home runs and 64 RBI while scoring 79 runs... Sarah Akamine is the only returning pitcher from a season ago, posting a 22-8 overall record and a 2.52 ERA in 186 innings.
SERIES RECORDS: Friday's meeting with Kentucky will be the first in school history between the two schools in softball... Fullerton is 16-8 all-time against Northwestern, having lost the last two meetings, including an 8-2 defeat last season at UNLV's Louisville Slugger Desert Classic... the Titans are 1-0 all-time against Southern Utah, but the two haven't met since a 9-0 Fullerton win in 1986 in Las Vegas during the Titans' run to the NCAA National Championship... Cal State Fullerton has never defeated Wisconsin in softball, posting an 0-3 mark against the Badgers... the two teams last met in 2007 at the Kajikawa Classic with Wisconsin handing the Titans a 4-2 loss... Fullerton is 28-25 all-time against Arizona, winning the last meeting between the two schools, 2-1, at the 2008 Judi Garman Classic to snap a four-game losing streak to the Wildcats.
WILD, WILD, WEST: Cal State Fullerton is 51-34 all-time against teams with the "Wildcats" moniker, and will face three of those schools (Kentucky, Northwestern, and Arizona) this weekend in Tempe, Ariz.
FOR OPENERS: The Titans are 24-6 all-time in season openers, winning their last four straight following a 9-2 victory over Indiana to kick-off the 2009 season. This weekend will mark the fifth time that Fullerton will open the season in Arizona and the third in the last five years.
TITANS IN THE GRAND CANYON STATE: The Titans have played in ASU's tournament 11 times since 1994, posting a 35-27 overall mark in the tournament under the Kajikawa/Fiesta Bowl Classic/ASU Tournament names in that span. The Titans last participated in the event in 2007, going 2-3 with wins over Texas Tech and Northwestern, but have not posted a winning record in the tournament since going 4-2 in 2003. All told, Cal State Fullerton is 61-49 in games played within the state of Arizona which includes a 3-0 record at the WAIAW Regionals in 1981, a 2-2 mark at the NCAA Regionals in 2001 in Tucson, a 1-2 mark last year in NCAA Regional play in Tempe, a 10-11 record at Arizona, a 9-9 mark at ASU, and a 2-0 record at Northern Arizona.
TITANS PICKED THIRD IN TIGHT BIG WEST RACE: The Cal State Fullerton softball team was picked to finish third in a tight race for the 2010 Big West Conference title according to a vote of the league's head coaches released by the conference office. The Titans received two first-place votes and finished with 50 points overall, just one point behind Long Beach State (one first-place vote, 51 points) in second and six points behind defending champion Cal Poly, which earned four first-place votes and 56 points overall. UC Santa Barbara (43 points) rounds out the top four followed by Cal State Northridge (1 first-place vote, 28 points), UC Davis (25), Pacific (19), and UC Riverside (16).
A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Cal State Fullerton is coming off its 27th postseason appearance in its 30-year history as the Titans finished 30-21 overall and 17-4 in Big West Conference play for second place. Fullerton advanced to the Tempe Regional hosted by defending national champion Arizona State where the Titans sandwiched an 8-2 win over San Diego State in between losses to nationally ranked LSU (3-2) and the host Sun Devils (7-0). Four position starters, three pitchers, and 10 letter winners overall return to the fold for Fullerton, which also welcomes eight newcomers to the roster - including a pair of NFCA California JC All-Americans.
GROMACKI PREVIEWS 2010 SEASON: Cal State Fullerton 11th year head coach Michelle Gromacki sat down in front of the camera with the sports information staff and team photographer Matt Brown to discuss her thoughts on the upcoming campaign. Shot in rich and vivid high definition, the complete interview is now available for free on FullertonTitansTV on Vimeo.com. To see the complete interview, log on to vimeo.com/fullertontitans.
YOU'RE THE BEST... AROUND: Head Coach Michelle Gromacki's long-held mantra of "to be the best, you have to play the best" will hold true once again in 2010 as the Titans' schedule features 13 teams ranked in the preseason USA Today/NFCA top 25 and nine more squads that are receiving votes.
SWIMMING IN THE DEEP END: While still a relatively young team, the Titans' depth for the 2010 campaign will be the envy of many squads around the country. Cal State Fullerton's roster lists 21 players for the upcoming season - the largest roster in the history of the program dating back to its inception in 1980. The Titans have carried 20 players three other times (1987, 1991, 1998) and have had no fewer than 15 players twice (1983 and 2003).
RUNNING CIRCLES: Cal State Fullerton should be "well-armed" for the 2010 season as the Titans return three starting pitchers and welcome a freshman arm to the circle for the upcoming campaign. Junior Ari Cervantes heads the list after earning All-Big West honors last season while posting a 20-11 overall record and a 2.23 ERA after appearing in only 11 games (three starts) as a freshman. She is joined in the circle by redshirt sophomore Krystal Heinle, who was an honorable mention all-conference selection after finishing 10-8 with a 2.82 ERA. Redshirt freshman Katey Laban returns for another stab at a rookie season after injuring her arm after just three appearances while true freshman Aly Fascetti adds depth after posting a 16-2 mark and a 0.56 ERA as a senior at Vista Murrieta HS.
TORRIE, TORRIE, TORRIE: Despite losing three of its top four bats from a season ago, Fullerton returns a great deal of pop from the lead-off spot with the bat of junior Torrie Anderson. The Castaic, Calif., native was a first-team All-Big West selection as a sophomore after batting .284 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI while scoring 28 runs. It was a breakout year for Anderson, who hit only .240 with three home runs and 19 RBI as a freshman in 2008.
TITANS PACK SOME POP: Fullerton's 46 home runs last season ended the season as the best in the Big West Conference and ranked seventh on the school's all-time list - the most since the Titans slugged 50 round-trippers in 2007. Most of that punch returns for the 2010 campaign as Fullerton brings back over half of that total in the form of Torrie Anderson (11), Trina Harrison (6), Morgan LeMond (4), Nicole Johnson (2), and Ari Cervantes (1). The Titans hit multiple home runs in a game 10 times last season, including a school-record five bombs against San Diego State on May 16 in an NCAA Regional contest in Tempe.