March 18, 2008
FULLERTON, CA - Tournament season concludes this week for the Cal State Fullerton softball team (14-13-1 overall) as the Titans return to Anderson Family Field to host the third-annual Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. The host school will open tournament play on Wednesday night (March 19) at 7 p.m. as the Titans take on the United States Women's National Team in an exhibition contest. Fullerton will then take on stiff collegiate competition in New Mexico on Thursday (March 20), Fresno State on Friday (March 21), and a pair of games against two-time defending national champion Arizona and Florida State on Saturday afternoon (March 22).
FORMAT CHANGES FOR 2008 TOURNAMENT: Due to the inclusion of the U.S. National Team and a shorter weekend due to the Easter holiday, the format for this year's edition of the Judi Garman Classic has changed and no longer includes the pool/bracket play fans have come to know during past seasons. Each team, with the exception of the U.S. National Team, will be playing five games over the course of the week and a tournament champion will be declared based on winning percentage among collegiate competitors.
CAN'T MAKE IT?: Gametracker livestats will be available for all of Cal State Fullerton's games this week at the Judi Garman Classic. Live streaming audio and video will be available for Wednesday night's exhibition against the U.S. National Team only via Fullerton's website at www.FullertonTitans.com.
TOURNEY LOADED WITH RANKED TEAMS: Nine of the nation's top 25 college softball teams - and a trio of top 10 squads - will be in Orange County this weekend for the 2008 Judi Garman Classic, including top-ranked Arizona State, No. 6 Michigan, and No. 7/8 Arizona. Besides the No. 1 ranked team in the world in the United States National team, included among the nation's best this week: No. 14/18 DePaul, No. 16/15 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 18/19 Washington, No. 19/14 Fresno State, No. 23/20 Long Beach State, and No. 25/22 San Diego State. In addition Florida State is receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
TITANS AT THE PONY... ER, KIA... ER, GARMAN: Cal State Fullerton is 102-49 (.675) all-time at the Judi Garman Classic dating back to inaugural event in 1981 under the PONY Tournament moniker... The Titans were 74-22 at the PONY Tournament, 5-5 at the unsponsored Cal State Fullerton Tournament, 20-16 at the KIA Klassic, and are 3-6 under the Judi Garman name... Fullerton was 1-4 at last year's event, falling in three straight extra-inning games before defeating Florida State in the finale for both teams.
SERIES RECORDS: Cal State Fullerton is 13-3 all-time against New Mexico, including a 7-2 mark at home... the Titans won the last meeting between the two schools - a 9-0, five-inning decision at the 2002 Kia Klassic... Fullerton is 31-37 all-time against its former conference rival Fresno State, last splitting two meetings in 2006 - the Titans winning, 5-4, in the season opener with the Bulldogs getting revenge, 2-0, in the first round of the NCAA Regionals that season... Fullerton is 27-25 all-time against Arizona, but has lost the last four meetings in the series - most notably, two straight in last year's NCAA Tournament Super Regional round in Tucson... Fullerton's last win against the Wildcats care in 2003 when the Titans split a doubleheader, losing 5-2 in the opener before winning, 15-2, in the nightcap... Cal State Fullerton is 8-3 all-time against Florida State, winning the last two meetings... Fullerton emerged with a 4-3 win over the Seminoles at last year's Judi Garman Classic.
U-S-A! U-S-A!: The United States Women's National Team will be making its second appearance at the Judi Garman Classic, last competing in 2004 when the tournament was known as the Kia Klassic prior to the Athens Summer Olympics. That season, the U.S. National Team defeated Cal State Fullerton (10-0, 5 inn.), DePaul (9-0, 5 inn.), and Louisiana-Lafayette (3-0). The Titans had the most success offensively, garnering three hits, while the Ragin' Cajun's managed just one and the Blue Demons were stymied by a Jennie Finch no-hitter.
A LOOK AT THE U.S. NATIONAL TEAM: The Americans are a perfect 11-0 on the "Bound-4-Beijing" Tour, hitting a robust .419 as a squad and outscoring their opposition 118-0 while holding them to an .059 average... The U.S. squad has posted double-digit runs against Arizona (16), Hawaii (15), Florida International (14), South Florida (18), and NC State (13), but eked out a 1-0 win over Central Florida behind a combined no-hitter by Jennie Finch, Lisa Fernandez, and Monica Abbott... the team has had four games cancelled by weather... Laura Berg (.615) has led the team in hitting while Jessica Mendoza (.579-4 HR-19 RBI), Lauren Lappin (.529-1-8), and Kelly Kretschman (.500-0-7) are all hitting .500 or better... Fernandez (4-0) leads the team in wins while Cat Osterman (2-0) leads the team in innings (17) and strikeouts (44)... the pitching staff has surrendered only 12 hits - two for extra bases - all season long while walking 10.
A LOOK AT THE LOBOS: New Mexico enters the tournament with a 13-7 overall record after having its nine-game winning streak snapped with a pair of losses to Arizona over the weekend... Gabriella Parra leads the team offensively with a .421 batting average with three home runs and 19 RBI... Lindsey Elcess supplies the power with six home runs and 14 RBI to go with her .407 average... Kelly Ninemire leads the team in the circle with an 8-4 record and a 2.60 ERA.
A LOOK AT THE BULLDOGS: Fresno State enters the week with a 23-5 overall record, having won 15 of its last 17 entering a Tuesday doubleheader against Northern Colorado... Haley Perkins leads all regulars offensively with a .398 average to go with 22 runs scored, six triples, and 15 RBI... Jenna Cervantes leads the team with five home runs while Caitlin Stiglich has a team-high 20 RBI... Despite playing without Canadian National Team member Robin Mackin, the Bulldogs haven't missed a beat with freshman Morgan Melloh in the circle as the rookie has posted a 14-3 overall record and a 0.69 ERA to go with 163 strikeouts in 122 innings.
A LOOK AT THE WILDCATS: Arizona enters the tournament with a 15-5 overall record, but will face UTEP in a doubleheader on Tuesday (March 18) before heading to Fullerton... The Wildcats have won 15 of their last 16 games, including a 4-1 mark at the Wildcat Invitational and winning a pair from New Mexico... Freshman Lauren Schutzler leads all regulars with a .417 average while eight players in the Arizona lineup are batting better than .300 on the season, helping the Wildcats to a .326 average as a team... Senior Taryne Mowatt is 6-4 in the circle with 1.74 ERA and 117 strikeouts while Freshman Lindsey Sisk is 8-1 with a 0.69 ERA.
A LOOK AT THE SEMINOLES: Florida State enters the week with a 21-9 overall record, having won 10 straight games... Last week, the Seminoles swept a pair from Connecticut while taking three from Virginia to open conference play... FSU will meet Lipscomb in a doubleheader before heading to California... Brittany Osmon leads the team in hittzing with a .393 average, five home runs, and 25 RBI... Tiffany McDonald (7-1, 1.06 ERA), Sarah Hamilton (5-1, 1.79 ERA), and Terese Gober (7-6, 1.93 ERA) have all seen significant time in the circle this season.
WELCOME HOME!: Former Cal State Fullerton great Jenny Topping returns to her old stomping grounds this weekend for the second time as a member of the United States Women's National Team, trying to earn a spot on this year's Olympic squad that will compete in Beijing. Topping, a three-time first-team All-American and Big West Conference Player of the Year as a Titan from 2001-03 and a gold medal winner from the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, continues to hold four career records and seven single-season marks in the school's record book. In her first meeting against the Titans, Topping finished 1-for-3 with a walk, but the "one" was a big one as she slugged a three-run home run as part of a six-run fourth inning in a 10-0 National Team victory.
IN THE KIKI, KIKI, KIKI, KIKI, KIKI ROOM: Senior Kiki Munoz continues to blister opposing pitching this season, leading the team in hitting last weekend by batting .471 (8-for-17) with a double and two runs scored. In the process, Munoz raised her average 16 points to a team-best .410 and extended her team-high doubles total to 10. She enters the week ranked fourth in the league in average, sixth in slugging (.566), and fifth in on-base percentage (.467).
TITANS PULL OFF THE UPSET: Cal State Fullerton defeated its second top-five opponent of the season last week, handing then-No. 2 UCLA a 1-0 defeat in extra innings. The Titans, who have also defeated No. 5 Oklahoma this year, got a stellar pitching performance from senior Jessica Doucette, who scattered just four hits and struck out three in holding the potent Bruins' offense quiet until Torrie Anderson's timely sacrifice fly scored fellow freshman Ari Cervantes with the game-winning run in the eighth.
UPSET, PART II: Fullerton's win over No. 2 UCLA marked the highest-ranked opponent that the Titans have defeated since they beat No. 2-ranked Arizona, 15-3, on March 22, 2003.
DOUCETTE CONTINUES HOT STREAK: Senior right-hander Jessica Doucette extended her winning streak in the circle to six straight until the Titans fell to No. 5 Texas A&M last week. In 48 innings over the last seven games, Doucette went 6-1 with a 1.75 ERA and 33 strikeouts while shutting out a pair of opponents (including No. 2 UCLA) and holding opposing batters to a .200 batting average.
TOUGH LUCK: Cal State Fullerton freshman Christine Hiner has been on the wrong end of some tough losses as of late, posting just a 1-5 record in her last six starts. In that stretch, Hiner has allowed just six earned runs in 38.2 innings pitched (1.09 ERA) while striking out 28 batters and holding the opposition to just a .217 average. The stretch has included losses on unearned runs to nationally-ranked Florida, Northwestern and San Diego State, a 1-0 shutout win over Notre Dame and a 1-0 loss to the Fighting Irish that saw Hiner allow just two hits on the night.
UNDER PRESSURE: Hiner has been thrown into the fire against some of the nation's best teams this season as seven of the freshman's 14 starts have come against teams ranked in the top 25 (with another appearance in relief against then-No. 12 Michigan).
BAKER UP FOR ESPN AWARD: Former Cal State Fullerton pitcher and current Volunteer Assistant Coach Candice Baker is one of three finalists for the second annual 710 ESPN Southern California Sports Awards under the "College Female Athlete of the Year" category. Baker is joined by USC women's soccer goalkeeper Kristin Olsen and UCLA water polo player Kelly Rulon. Voted on by fans, the awards will be presented at the ESPNZone in Anaheim on April 3 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. and rebroadcast on 710 ESPN on April 4 at 8 p.m., April 5 at 8 a.m., and April 6 at 7 a.m. The nominations were compiled by the 710 ESPN personalities and a 710 ESPN committee from recommendations submitted by fellow Southern California sports writers, broadcasters, coaches and experts throughout Southern California. The final top three nominees were selected by a 710 ESPN committee.
SHOPPING AT THE GAP: Cal State Fullerton's 45 doubles this season paces the Big West Conference and lead second place Long Beach State by eight two-baggers this season. Almost one-quarter of the Titans' 193 hits this season have been doubles while almost 35 percent of Fullerton's hits have gone for extra bases.
MORE DOUBLES TROUBLE: Individually, five of the top 10 doubles hitters in the Big West entering this week's games are Cal State Fullerton players: Kiki Munoz (t2nd), Katie Gollhardt (t4th), Torrie Anderson (t6th), Jessica Doucette (t6th), and Lauren Lupinetti (t9th).
POWER SHORTAGE?: After hitting a league-best 50 home runs last season, the Titans have slugged just 15 long balls in 2008 (which co-leads the conference, no less), compared to 20 in the first 28 games in 2007. Fullerton, which has reached the 50-home run mark as a team in each of the last two seasons and four times since 1999, has hit just one in their last 10 contests after a stretch that saw the Titans hit a home run in eight of nine games from Feb. 22 to March 2.
HITS = WINS: We're no math majors, but it seems like a simple equation. The Titans are an impressive 12-1 this season when they outhit their opponents, winning 11 straight since a 5-4 loss to Nevada that saw Fullerton outhit the Wolf Pack, 11-6.
LUPINETTI STREAKING: Junior Lauren Lupinetti has a bit of a hitting streak going, starting a four-game hitting streak this past weekend in San Diego. Lupinetti is batting .333 in those contests with a pair of extra base hits and four RBI.
SPREADING THE WEALTH: A diverse Fullerton offense has seen six different Titans drive in 10 or more runs thus far this season, giving oppponents fits trying to decide who is the most dangerous hitter in Cal State Fullerton's lineup.
DO RUN, RUN, RUN: They do run, run. Just as in the RBI category, if they aren't driving them in, they're scoring the runs as six Titans have scored 10-or-more runs. Of those six, four players have also reached double digits in both categories: Kiki Munoz, Lauren Lupinetti, Courtney Martinez, and Torrie Anderson.
GLOVE SICK: After committing just 10 errors in their first 15 games, the Titans have had a hex put on their gloves in the field, charged with 16 errors in their last 13 games - including a season-worst four errors on March 6 against Loyola Chicago.
TITANS PICKED SECOND IN BIG WEST: The Cal State Fullerton softball team was picked to finish second in the Big West Conference according to a vote of the league's coaches. The Titans, who received 55 points overall, were edged out of the top spot by defending league champion Cal Poly (56 points) despite receiving three first place votes to the Mustangs' two. Long Beach State was picked third with 52 points in a tightly-contested race for the No. 1 spot and matched Cal Poly with two first-place votes. Pacific was fourth with 33 points followed by Cal State Northridge with 32 points (one first-place vote), UC Davis with 28 points, UC Santa Barbara with 20, and UC Riverside with 12.
TITANS DEBUT IN TOP 25: The Titans began the season ranked in the preseason coaches polls for the first time since 2004 following a season that saw them post a 41-15 overall record and a 20-1 mark in league play en route to their 22nd postseason appearance.
THERE'S NO TYING IN SOFTBALL: Well, apparently, there is. Cal State Fullerton and Texas battled to a 4-4 tie in the second game of an inpromptu doubleheader with the Longhorns at the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational as the Titans had to leave early in order to catch their flight. It was only the fifth tie in the history of the program and the first since April 8, 1991 - a 3-3, 16-inning battle at UNLV.