March 26, 2008
FULLERTON, CA - With the bulk of the non-conference schedule now behind them, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (16-15-1 overall) begins the race for the 2008 Big West Conference title this weekend as the Titans travel to defending champion Cal Poly for a three-game series. The match-up between the top two picks in the league's preseason coaches poll begins with a doubleheader on Saturday (March 29) at noon in San Luis Obispo, Calif., with Sunday's single-game finale also starting at 12 p.m.
I NEED STATS, STAT: Gametracker live stats will be available for all three games of the weekend series. Links will be available at FullertonTitans.com.
I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW: Live streaming Internet video courtesy of Big West TV will be available on a subscription basis for the first two games of the series on Saturday from San Luis Obispo. For more information, please visit www.BigWest.org/TV.
IN THE POLLS: Cal State Fullerton is listed among those receiving votes in this week's USA Today/NFCA coaches' poll, garnering three "yea's" from the panel... It marks the Titans' return to the listing following a three-week absence... Fullerton also jumped back into the "receiving votes" section of the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll for the first time since March 4, earning six votes this week.
SERIES RECORDS: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Cal Poly by a 30-15 margin, but the Titans will be looking to bounce back after losing the season series for the third time in the last four years in 2007... In Fullerton's last trip to San Luis Obispo, the Titans took 2-of-3 from the Mustangs en route to the Big West Conference title... Cal State Fullerton is 10-8 all-time in games played at Cal Poly.
FOR OPENERS: Cal State Fullerton is 14-8 all-time in Big West Conference openers dating back to 1986 and 19-9 in league openers overall since the program first took the field in 1980... The Titans are 6-2 in season-openers under Head Coach Michelle Gromacki and have won their last three season-opening Big West series' dating back to 2005 and seven of eight under Coach Gromacki.
SCOUTING THE MUSTANGS: Cal Poly enters the weekend with a 12-13 overall record, but hasn't played since defeating Colorado State, 18-3, at the Capital Classic in Sacramento on March 16... Jenna Maiden leads the team offensively, hitting a team-best .342 with three home runs and a team-high 17 RBI... Melissa Pura supplies the power with four home runs and 14 RBI... Robyn Kontra (4-1, 1.97 ERA) leads a potent pitching staff that includes Anna Cahn (3-6, 3.36 ERA) and Helen Pena (5-5, 4.57 ERA)... the Mustang pitchers have struck out 114 batters while walking only 35.
TITANS SWEEP WEEKLY HONORS: Cal State Fullerton sophomore Sheila Holguin and freshman Christine Hiner gave the Titans a sweep of the Big West Conference's weekly honors, earning the league's player and pitcher of the week award, respectively, on Monday morning. Holguin becomes the second Fullerton player to win the award, joining teammate Jenna Wheeler (Feb. 11), and Hiner is the first Titan hurler to be so honored this season.
CLEAR OFF THE MANTLE: Holguin also added another prestigious honor to her mantle on Tuesday as the sophomore was named the NFCA's National Player of the Week after her hitting display at the Judi Garman Classic. She becomes the second Titan in as many seasons to win the national honor from the NFCA, joining former Titan pitcher and current undergraduate assistant coach Candice Baker, who earned the honor on March 7, 2007.
A WHOLE LOTTA HOLGUIN: Sophomore infielder Sheila Holguin took a huge step in keeping her breakout season going, leading the entire Judi Garman Classic in hitting (.692), slugging percentage (1.077), on-base percentage (.692) and triples (2) while also also tying for the tournament lead in hits (9) and finishing tied for second in total bases (14). In the process, she also upped her season average almost 60 points to .306 - which ranks second on the team entering this weekend's contests.
HINER'S BACK: Freshman right-hander Christine Hiner made her first start since March 15 a gem as she held a powerful Arizona offense to just three hits in the Titans' 2-1 victory over the No. 7 Wildcats. Hiner, who has started eight games in the circle against top 25 competition, struck out six in the complete-game effort to snap a four-start losing streak and even her record at 7-7 overall this season.
TITANS DENT U.S. ARMOR: Going up against the No. 1 team in the nation can be daunting, but the No. 1 team in the WORLD? The Titans proved their mettle against a seemingly invincible foe, scoring the only runs and slugging the first home runs against the United States National Team this season after it had entered the Judi Garman Classic outscoring the opposition 118-0. Fullerton senior Kiki Munoz slugged two of the three home runs on the night with junior Lauren Lupinetti adding the other. Senior Crystal Vieyra also got to the U.S. pitching staff, beating out a ground ball to short for an infield single.
TITANS TOPPLE TOP TEN FOE: Fullerton is only 3-10-1 this season against ranked opposition, but all three of its victories have come against teams ranked in the top 10. The Titans added a win over No. 7 Arizona this past weekend to triumphs over No. 5 Oklahoma (Feb. 9) and No. 2 UCLA (March 12).
TRIPLES THREAT: Holguin's two triples this past weekend upped her team-best total to four three-baggers this season, moving her into second place overall in the Big West standings and tying her for 10th place on the school's single-season list.
BET YOU CAN'T HIT JUST ONE: Cal State Fullerton senior Kiki Munoz and sophomore Sheila Holguin are among a select group in the Big West this season as two of just four players entering this week's games with 10 or more multiple-hit games in 2008.
NO FREEBIES: Rookie Christine Hiner didn't walk a single batter in her start against No. 7 Arizona - the third time this season she has pitched a complete game without walking a batter and the fourth time (including a 3 2/3-inning relief appearance against Michigan) overall in 16 appearances this season.
DOUBLES TROUBLE: With the season half gone, the Titans are almost halfway to the school record of 99 doubles set in 1999. Smacking four doubles this past weekend brought Fullerton to 49 two-baggers on the season which leads the Big West Conference by seven over second-place Long Beach State. The Titans also rank No. 28 in the nation with 1.53 doubles per game entering this weekend's games.
PITCHER'S BEST FRIEND: Two more double plays turned for the Titans' defense against Fresno State on March 21 brought their Big West Conference-leading total to 12 on the season and moved Fullerton to No. 30 in the NCAA with 0.38 double plays per game.
NO HITS FOR YOU: Cal State Fullerton's pitching staff enters the weekend as one of the stingiest in the Big West Conference, standing second in the league with a .235 average against. Senior Jessica Doucette ranks second in the conference individually with a .210 average against while freshman Christine Hiner is fourth with a .226 average against.
IN THE KIKI, KIKI, KIKI, KIKI, KIKI ROOM: Kiki Munoz continues to tear up opposing pitching, going 3-for-5 at the Judi Garman Classic after sitting out the final two games of the tournament. She added two more doubles in the Titans' win over New Mexico to bring her team-leading total to 12 (which also ranks second in the Big West) and upped her average to a team-best .420 - an average that has her as just one of four players in the league to hit better than .400 this season.
UNDER PRESSURE: Freshman right-hander Christine Hiner has been thrown into the fire against some of the nation's best teams in her rookie campaign, as eight of her 15 starts (and nine of her 16 appearances overall) have come against teams ranked in the top 25.
WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: Fullerton's 2-1 win over nationally ranked Arizona marked the Titans' sixth one-run victory in their last eight one-run games - including their fourth in their last five such contests. That run comes on the heels of a slow start for Cal State Fullerton in close games as the Titans went 0-3 in one-run games in their first 11 games of 2008.
HITS = WINS: We're no math majors, but it seems like a simple enough equation. The Titans are an impressive 14-2 this season when outhitting their opponents, but saw their 13-game winning streak in those games snapped in their 4-1 loss to Florida State to close out the Judi Garman Classic. Fullerton's last loss when outhitting its opponent was on Feb. 9 in a 5-4 loss to Nevada that saw the Titans outhit the Wolf Pack, 11-6.
SPREADING THE WEALTH: A diverse Titans offense has seen seven different players drive in 10 or more runs thus far this season and a similar group of seven score 10 or more times in 2008. Between the two groups, only Sheila Holguin (16 runs, nine RBI) and Jenna Wheeler (nine runs, 10 RBI) haven't yet reached double digits in both categories this season.