Feb. 15, 2006
FULLERTON, CA -
After opening the weekend in the dry Arizona desert last weekend, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (2-3 overall) heads to the arid plains of Nevada as one of 25 teams competing at the 2006 Louisville Slugger Desert Classic hosted by UNLV.
IN THE POLLS
Cal State Fullerton is receiving votes in both the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches polls w This weekend's opponents include \#8/6 California and \#12/14 Northwestern as well as Brigham Young and Notre Dame, which are both receiving votes entering this week's play w Utah State is unranked.
A LOOK AT THE FIELD
The Louisville Slugger Desert Classic is a four-day, 59-game tournament that features games played at UNLV's Eller Media Stadium and Stephanie Lynn Craig Park in nearby Henderson.
CALIFORNIA: The Golden Bears opened 4-0 at the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego, downing Oklahoma State (14-5), Cal Poly (3-1), UC Santa Barbara (3-1), and Massachusettes (3-2). - the last three wins thanks to late-inning comebacks.
NORTHWESTERN: The Wildcats went 3-2 last weekend at the Kajikawa Classic, posting wins over Oregon State (1-0), Fresno State (5-0), and Syracuse (7-2). Kristen Amegin hit .333 with a home run and three RBI while Eileen Canney was 1-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 21 strikeouts.
BRIGHAM YOUNG: The Cougars went 4-1 at the Paradise Classic in Hawaii last week, posting wins over Southern Mississippi (5-4), Hawaii (4-0), and Texas-Arlington (5-2).
UTAH STATE: The Aggies went 1-4 at the Kajikawa Classic, with their only win coming against Cal State Fullerton. Amy Schiable led the team with five hits while Quela Leonhardt drove in three.
NOTRE DAME: The Irish open their season this weekend, returning 10 letterwinners and six starters from last season.
The Titans are a combined 83-40 all time against this weekend's opponents: 22-14 vs. California (L1), 14-3 vs. Northwestern (W5), 44-21 vs. Utah State (L2), and 3-2 against Notre Dame (L1) w Saturday's meeting with Brigham Young will be the first in softball between the two programs.
LEAVING LAS VEGAS... WITH WINS
Cal State Fullerton will compete in a tournament held in Las Vegas for only the fourth time since 1980, but "Lady Luck" has been on the Titans' side each time. In three previous tournaments, Cal State Fullerton is a combined 14-5 in the Las Vegas desert: 6-2 in 1986, 4-2 ini 1992, and 4-1 in 2003.
LAST TIME IN VEGAS
In the Titans' last trip to Vegas, Fullerton posted a 4-1 overall record in the 2003 Desert Classic, losing to LSU by a 4-3 count in the opener before tallying four straight wins over Central Michigan (9-1 in 5 inn.), Utah (3-1), South Carolina (6-1), and Texas Tech (4-3).
RACKING UP THE "FIRSTS"
Senior pitcher Marissa Marzan hit her first career home run in the Titans' 5-2 loss to Utah State w freshman Courtney Martinez scored her first career run in the loss to the Aggies and made her first career start at second base against Oregon State w after missing all of the 2005 season due to injury, redshirt sophomore Jenna Wheeler tallied her first hit since May 15, 2004, in the Titans' opener against Fresno State.
A PERFECT START
Junior infielder Tiffany Hoff had a perfect start to her 2006 season as the team's designated player, going 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI in the opener against Fresno State and tallied a pinch-hit single in the loss to Utah State to hit 1.000. Hoff was an All-Big West First-Team selection at DP as a sophomore in 2005.
PAIR OF TITANS START STRONG IN THE CIRCLE
Titan senior Marissa Marzan and junior Brooke Weekley each had strong starts in the circle for Fullerton last weekend as the two combined for a 1.29 ERA and a .212 opponent batting average.
COACH Michelle Gromacki
Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Michelle Gromacki enters her seventh season at the helm of the Titans' softball program, continuing the tradition of success that has built Fullerton into one of the most prestigious programs in the country.
Gromacki has devoted the past 11 seasons to the Titans' program after spending five years as an assistant to Hall of Fame Head Coach Judi Garman. Gromacki has compiled a 235-112 (.677) overall record in her six seasons, which includes five trips to the NCAA Tournament and four Big West Conference titles.
CAL STATE FULLERTON PICKED TO WIN BIG WEST TITLE
The Big West Conference head softball coaches picked Cal State Fullerton to win the Big West title, as the Titans received six first place votes and 48 points in the preseason coaches poll released on Jan. 11. Long Beach State finished in second place in the poll with 39 points and garnered one first place vote. The 49ers were followed by Cal Poly (32 points) in third, UC Santa Barbara and Pacific in a fourth-place tie (26 points), Cal State Northridge (16) in sixth, and UC Riverside (9) in seventh.
GET YOUR TICKETS EARLY
The Titans may not play at the Titan Softball Complex until March, but fans may want to snatch up those tickets earlier than usual. Cal State Fullerton softball was one of the top draws in the country last season, ranking 17th in the nation in average home attendance (515 per game) and 14th in the country in total home attendance (9,789).
ROAD TO OKLAHOMA CITY A TOUGH ONE
One of the factors in Cal State Fullerton's selection to the NCAA Tournament field last season was due in part to its strength of schedule. A hallmark of the Titan program since its inception, playing a difficult schedule will again be a trait in 2006.
Of Cal State Fullerton's first 15 games, 10 will be against teams that reached the postseason in 2005 and the Titans will meet 18 teams overall (22 games) against programs that advanced to postseason play - including College World Series participants Arizona, California, and UCLA.
According to preseason polls, the Titans will also battle 16 teams ranked or receiving votes in either the USA Today/NFCA or ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches polls.