Conference Play Opens Against No. 24 Cal Poly

March 25, 2009

FULLERTON, CA -

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BATTER UP!: The Cal State Fullerton softball team (12-15 overall) opens the Big West conference portion of its schedule this weekend as the Titans welcome No. 24 Cal Poly to Anderson Family Field for a three-game series. The two teams open with a doubleheader on Saturday (March 28) at 12 p.m. before concluding with a single game on Sunday (March 29) at 12 p.m.

IN THE POLLS: Cal Poly enters the week ranked No. 24 in the nation according to the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and No. 25 according to the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll released on Tuesday. Cal State Fullerton, receiving votes last week, is unlisted in this week's polls.

"POWER IN PINK": The Cal State Fullerton softball team will be hosting its first annual "Power in Pink" event on Saturday to support breast cancer research and awareness. A silent auction and donations will benefit the Orange County chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Fans in attendance are encouaged to wear pink in support.

I NEED STATS, STAT!: Barring technical difficulties (insert sound of knocking on wood here), Gametracker will be available for all three of Cal State Fullerton's games this week. Links will be available on the softball schedule page of FullertonTitans.com.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? GOOD!: Cal State Fullerton's conference-opening series with Cal Poly will be carried live over the Internet at www.FullertonTitans.com. Veteran Titan play-by-play man Mike Martinez will handle the call live from Anderson Family Field.

PEEK-A-BOO... I SEE YOU!: As it goes with the Internet audio stream above, live video will also be available for all three of this weekend's home contests (on a subscription basis) by logging on to BigWest.org/TV and signing up.

A LOOK AT THE MUSTANGS: Cal Poly enters the weekend with a 19-7 overall record heading into a Tuesday doubleheader against Santa Clara... the Mustangs had won 13 straight until suffering a 2-1 loss to nationally ranked Stanford in 10 innings on Monday... Cal Poly is led at the plate by Melissa Pura, who is batting .390 with six home runs and 24 RBI... the Mustangs are second in the Big West in hitting with a .300 team average... reigning Big West Pitcher of the Week Anna Cahn is 12-4 with a 1.41 ERA in the circle, holding opponents to a .201 average on the season... Helen Pena has also been effective, posting a 6-3 overall record and a 1.58 ERA in 53 innings.

THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series, 30-18, but Cal Poly has won the last three straight after sweeping the regular season series from the Titans in San Luis Obispo last season... the Mustangs have won four of the last five series dating back to the 2004 season... Fullerton's last win against Cal Poly came in 2007 as Lauren Lupinetti's walk-off three-run home run lifted the Titans to a 7-5 victory.

FOR OPENERS (CONFERENCE STYLE): Cal State Fullerton is 15-8 all-time in Big West Conference openers dating back to 1986, but has lost two of its last three... the Titans are 9-3 in conference opening games at home compared to 6-5 on the road... this season will mark the first time since 2006 that Fullerton has opened conference play at home, defeating UC Santa Barbara two-games-to-one that season... the Titans have opened Big West play with a series against the Mustangs three previous times (all in San Luis Obispo) and has yet to win a game in seven chances (1997: 0-2, 1998: 0-2, 2008: 0-3).

JOHNSON COMES THROUGH: Freshman Nicole Johnson made the most of her first career start at first base last Saturday against San Diego State, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a double in the Titans' loss to the Aztecs. Two of Johnson's three hits this season have gone for extra bases.

EXTRA, EXTRA: The Titans have had at least one extra base hit in each of their last 11 games and in 22 of 27 games overall this season. During their 11-game streak, 26 of the team's 68 hits (38 percent) have gone for extra bases - including 10 home runs.

MILESTONE JUST AROUND THE CORNER: One victory this weekend against Cal Poly will give Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Michelle Gromacki her 350th career victory as a head coach - becoming only the fifth coach in the history of the Big West Conference to reach that plateau as a member of the league. Ahead of Gromacki: Pete Manarino (who won a record 791 games at the helm of Long Beach State), Cal State Fullerton's Judi Garman (581 wins), Pacific's Brian Kolze (501 wins), and former UNLV coach Shan McDonald (350).

THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN OFTEN: Back-to-back shutout losses to San Diego State last weekend marked the first time since March 6-7 against Loyola-Chicago (7-0) and Northwestern (3-0) that the Titans have been held off the scoreboard in two straight games. It is so rare, Fullerton has been shutout in back-to-back games six times in 552 games under Head Coach Michelle Gromacki.

STINGY IN THE CIRCLE: Sophomore righthander Ari Cervantes has done well to silence opposing bats this season, ranking seventh in the Big West Conference entering this week's games with a .227 average against and helping the Titans' staff to the fourth-lowest opposing batting average at .249.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?: Fullerton's pitching staff ranks third in the league in strikeouts looking with 48 on the season, trailing Long Beach State (55) and Pacific (53). Cervantes ranks third in the league individually, as 29 of her 70 strikeout victims left with the bat on their shoulder, while Heinle is ninth in the Big West with 18 batters caught staring this season.

WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: Adept at keeping fans on the edge of their seats this season, Cal State Fullerton is 6-2 this season in one-run contests. The Titans are hitting .241 and slugging .448 in those contests while holding opponents to a .216 average in eight games. Freshman Morgan LeMond is the team's leading hitter in one-run contests, batting .438 while four other players are batting better than .300 in those games. Sophomore Ari Cervantes has been masterful in the circle, posting a 4-2 record with a 1.45 ERA and 23 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a .196 average. Freshman Krystal Heinle is also 2-0 in one-run games in the circle.

"SPEAK SOFTLY...": Cal State Fullerton sophomore Torrie Anderson is carrying the big stick for the Titans in 2009 as her seven home runs leads the team and stands just four shy of breaking onto the school's single-season top 10 list. The last time a Titan reached double digits in the home run column was in 2007 when Jessica Doucette slugged 11 round-trippers to help Cal State Fullerton to the NCAA Super Regionals.

NEW GAME, DIFFERENT HERO: In Cal State Fullerton's 12 victories this season, the Titans have had seven different players account for the game-winning RBI while nine different Fullerton baserunners have come around to score the game-winning run.

NO POWER SHORTAGE HERE: The Fullerton lineup continues to generate power this season as the Titans' continue to lead the Big West with 22 long balls entering this week's games - besting second place Long Beach State by two long balls and standing as one of five conference teams with double-digit home run totals. Three Titans rank among the league leaders as sophomore Torrie Anderson is third in the league with seven while senior Courtney Martinez and junior Francesca Gonzales stand in a tie for sixth with four apiece.

"WE NEED A LIVE ROO... WAS IT A LIVE ROOSTER?": The hex is certainly on the Titans' gloves in the field thus far in 2009 as they have committed 40 errors in their first 27 games (tied for the most in the Big West). Fullerton, which was tied for third in the Big West with a .963 fielding percentage in 2008, ranks eighth out of eight teams at .954 entering this week's games.

TURN TWO: Despite the struggles in the field, Cal State Fullerton's defense has been quite handy at getting their pitchers out of jams, ranking second in the Big West Conference with 14 double plays turned this season - including a pair last weekend against San Diego State.

MERCY ME: Cal State Fullerton has twice played extra-inning games this season, but has yet to break out the whoopin' sticks and post a run-rule victory in 2009. The Titans, whose only shortened game this season was a five-inning win over Indiana in the season opener due to rain, haven't run-ruled an opponent since an 8-0 win at Pacific on April 19, 2008. In the "good news" column, Fullerton hasn't been run-ruled since a 9-1 loss at Cal Poly on March 29, 2008, and has only been run-ruled three times in its last 208 games.

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