March 14, 2006
FULLERTON, CA -
The most prestigious regular season tournament in the nation comes to Southern California this weekend as the Cal State Fullerton softball team hosts 15 other teams in the inaugural 2006 Judi Garman Classic Presented by Coach USA this week in Fullerton, Calif. However, before those festivities begin, the Titans will host the University of Utah in a tournament tune-up on Tuesday night (March 14) at 6 p.m.
ABOUT THE TOURNAMENT
The 16-team tournament field features former NCAA Champions Oklahoma, Fresno State, Arizona and Cal State Fullerton as well as 2005 National Champion Michigan. Former tournament champions Arizona (1988, 1995-96, 1998), Fresno State (1990), Cal State Northridge (1993), Louisiana-Lafayette (1994), Oklahoma (1997), Arizona State (1999), Washington (2000, 2004), and the 2005 champion Wolverines will compete alongside the Titans for this year's title.
The tournament has operated continuously since 1981 under the PONY, Cal State Fullerton Showcase, and Kia Klassic monikers with the host Titans claiming nine tournament titles, most recently in 2002.
IN THE POLLS
Cal State Fullerton continues to receive votes in this week's ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches poll &\#149; The USA Today/NFCA poll will be released on Wednesday (March 15) &\#149; Of the Titans' three pool play opponents this weekend only Arizona State (\#10) is ranked in the USA Softball top 25 w Of the 16 teams competing this weekend, 10 are ranked in the recently released USA Softball top 25 including five of the top 10 teams in the nation: Arizona (\#1), Texas (\#4), Alabama (\#7), Michigan (\#9), Arizona State (\#10), Louisiana-Lafayette (\#11), Washington (\#14), Oklahoma (\#15), Texas A&M (\#18), Fresno State (\#23).
A LOOK AT THE FIELD
The 2006 Judi Garman Classic Presented by Coach USA is a 16-team event that features four pools of four teams each. Following the completion of pool play, the top two teams from each pool are placed into the championship bracket with the two remaining teams from each pool sent to the consolation bracket. Champions of both brackets will be crowned on Sunday afternoon (March 19) at 1 p.m.
&\#149; UTAH: Utah enters Tuesday's tune-up for the Judi Garman Classic with a 12-6 overall record and hitting .288 as a team. The Utes had won nine straight until having the streak snapped with a 4-1 loss to North Carolina. Jackie Wong is the team's leading hitter with a .484 average, 12 runs scored, and five RBI. Devina Quintero and Diana Phillips are also hitting better than .300 this season. Karina Cannon (5-2, 1.69 ERA) and Meghan Dyer (6-1, 2.60) have seen the most action in the circle this season.
&\#149; NOTRE DAME: The Irish enter the weekend with a 9-7 overall record and are coming off their first doubleheader sweep of the season over Cal Poly. Sara Schoonaert leads the team in hitting with a .340 average with five doubles and six RBI. Heather Booth is 4-4 overall with a team-best 2.17 ERA and 75 strikeouts to go with a .236 opponent average.
&\#149; FLORIDA STATE: The Seminoles enter the week with a 19-9 overall record entering Tuesday's doubleheader with North Carolina. FSU had won five straight entering Tuesday's play. Natasha Jacob enters the weekend hitting .314 with a pair of home runs and nine RBI while Venezuelan native Yuruby Alicart has been the team's leading power hitter with four home runs and 19 RBI. Tiffany McDonald is the ace in the circle, posting a 12-5 record and a 2.09 ERA.
&\#149; ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils enter the week with a 26-1 overall record and are currently riding an eight-game winning streak since suffering their first loss of the year to Virginia Tech on March 4. Yorba Linda, Calif., native Kaitlin Cochran is hitting a robust .513 with 22 runs, six home runs and 41 RBI to lead an offense that his hitting .314 as a team. Desiree Serrano (10-1, 0.94 ERA) and Katie Burkhart (11-0, 1.38) lead a stellar pitching staff that has held opponents to a .168 average and has racked up 243 strikeouts.
Cal State Fullerton is a combined 34-22 against its three pool play opponents all-time: 4-2 vs. Notre Dame (including a 9-3 win on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas this season), 6-3 vs. Florida State, and 24-17 vs. Arizona State.
TITANS AT THE PONY... ERR... KIA... UMMM... JUDI...
The Titans own a 100-43 all-time record in their showcase event since 1981, but have not posted a winning record in the tournament since going 7-0 and winning their last tournament title in 2002.
When the Titans have played two games in one day this season, seems as if you're never sure which Fullerton squad you're going to get. Fullerton has split two games 10 times this season to go with last week's pseudo doubleheader sweep of Loyola-Chicago (12-0 in five innings) and Virginia (5-0) on March 7. The Titans hold identical 6-5 records in the first and second games of those doubleheaders, but have won 3-of-4 in each category.
MARZAN HOLDING IT DOWN...
Cal State Fullerton senior righty Marissa Marzan has allowed only one earned run in her last three appearances, including throwing her first collegiate no-hitter in the 12-0 romp over Loyola-Chicago. In her last 25.2 innings, Marzan has allowed three earned (0.82 ERA) on 14 hits while striking out 17 batters and holding the opposition to a .167 average (14-for-84).
WHILE GOLLHARDT IS HEATING THINGS UP...
Sophomore infielder Katie Gollhardt has been the Titans' hottest hitter as of late, notching knocks in seven of her last eight games and hitting .458 (11-for-24) in that span with five extra base hits (including a grand slam), five runs scored, and 11 RBI. She is tied for second on the team with six multiple hit games and four multiple RBI outings.
Sophomore Katie Gollhardt isn't the only one heating up at the plate as junior outfielder Ashley Van Boxmeer has also found her stroke at the plate. "Box" is hitting .467 (7-for-15) over her last five games, including driving home the game-winning run with a sac fly vs. Virginia and going 3-for-4 with her team-best sixth home run of the year in the second game of a doubleheader with San Diego State. She leads the team with six multi-RBI games this season and ranks tied for second with six multi-hit games.
VAN BOXMEER CLOSING IN
Just a little more on Ashley Van Boxmeer. Her sixth home run of the season last Friday against the San Diego State gave her 16 for her Titans' career -which ranks just three round-trippers out of the all-time top 10.
WINNING THE CLOSE ONES
Fullerton improved to 6-2 this season in one-run contests thanks to a pair of one-run wins over Georgia and Texas Tech at the Worth Invitational, but saw its three-game winning streak in the category snapped on March 8 at UCLA in a 10-inning 1-0 loss at Easton Stadium. Not only are the Titans winning those close contests, but they are doing it against quality opponents as Fullerton has also posted one-run wins over nationally ranked Fresno State, California, Texas A&M, and Georgia this season as well as close wins over Syracuse and Texas Tech.
GOING THE EXTRA BASE
Just 26 games into the 2006 season and the Titans are already trying to horde the extra base hits. Of Fullerton's 171 hits, 64 have gone for extra bases (37 percent), including 36 doubles and 19 home runs.
SPEAKING OF EXTRA BASES
Fullerton has legged out nine triples and smashed 19 home runs this season - just short of the totals for all of last season with over half of the 2006 schedule still remaining. The Titans hit 12 triples last season - the most since the 2001 season - and 28 home runs - the most since hitting 37 in 2003.
GOT THEM IN HER SIGHTS
Go ahead make her day. Senior catcher Ashlee Weatherford has been on target in 2006 behind the plate, throwing out half of would be base stealers (10-of-20) this season - compared to just one thrown out during her 2005 junior season.
SPEED TO BURN
Junior Candice Baker is another Titan rapidly approaching a career top 10 list, standing just five stolen bases short of tenth-place Carrie Davis' (1996-99) career total of 24. Baker, who has three steals in four attempts this season, had her quickest season in 2005, swiping 10-of-13 as a sophomore.
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 249-124 (.668) overall record in her six-plus seasons, which includes five trips to the NCAA Tournament and four Big West Conference titles.
TITANS 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.