April 4, 2007
FULLERTON, CA -
PLAY BALL: The Cal State Fullerton softball team (21-15 overall, 3-0 in the Big West Conference), winners of its last four straight and seven of its last nine, returns home to Anderson Family Field this holiday weekend to open the home portion of its Big West schedule against Cal State Northridge. The three-game series opens with a doubleheader on Friday night (April 6) at 5 p.m. before concluding with a single game on Saturday (April 7) at noon.
ON THE AIR: Audio for all three games this weekend will be available via the Internet at www.FullertonTitans.com. Gametracker will also be available.
IN THE POLLS: Cal State Fullerton is receiving three votes in this week's ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches poll. Cal State Northridge is unranked.
A LOOK AT THE MATADORS: Cal State Northridge enters the week with a 13-13-1 overall record and is coming off a 1-2 week that saw the Matadors open Big West play at Long Beach State... CSUN won the opener against the 49ers, 2-0, on a one-hitter by Mercedes Lovato, but Long Beach State bounced back with 1-0 and 5-3 victories to close out the series... 2006 Big West Freshman of the Year Amanda Peek leads the Matadors' offense, hitting .388 with 16 runs scored, seven home runs, and 19 RBI - all tops on the team... Northridge is hitting .275 as a team (fourth in the Big West)... Lovato has seen the most action in the circle, posting an 8-8 record in 15 starts to go with a 3.55 ERA... Amanda Pitzenberger is the other half of the Matadors' pitching duo, posting a 5-4 record with a 3.43 ERA.
TITANS SWEEP BIG WEST WEEKLY HONORS: Cal State Fullerton junior Jessica Doucette and senior Candice Baker were named the Big West Conference player and pitcher of the week on Monday after helping the Titans to a 4-1 week. It is the first time this season that Fullerton has swept the league's weekly laurels, but not the first time this year that they have been honored by the conference as Doucette was named player of the week for a second time while Baker earned pitching honors for the third time.
FINALLY!: After losing seven of eight overall this season in extra innings, the Titans finally put another in the win column on Saturday at UC Santa Barbara, downing the Gauchos by a 3-1 count in their longest game (inning-wise) of the season. The 2:43 game time was Fullerton's second-longest of the year standing behind only its two-hour, 53-minute marathon against Penn State on March 15 in nine innings.
OFFENSE FINDS SOME POP: The Titans banged out a season-high 19 hits in Saturday's 11-4 win over UCSB in game two of a doubleheader, marking the sixth time this season - and the second in the last four games - that Fullerton has reached double figures in hits. The 11 runs by the Titans, who outhit the Gauchos 29-12 and outscored them 19-5 on the weekend, was also the fourth time that they have scored 10-or-more runs this season.
DOUCETTE DOES SOME YARD WORK: Junior Jessica Doucette was a large part of that explosive Titans offense this weekend as she hit .417 and slugged three home runs against UC Santa Barbara pitching after hitting just two in her previous 32 games.
BAKER BACK ON TRACK: After losing five consecutive decisions against some stiff competition in mid-March (including four games against top 25 teams), senior Candice Baker has closed out the month on a roll, winning her last five straight decisions to improve to 13-8 overall this season. Baker, whose 13 wins are tied for the most in the Big West entering this week, has allowed 10 runs on 26 hits in that span (2.53 ERA and .248 average against), but has struck out 30 while walking only five (6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio) and has received tremendous run support as the Titans have scored 23 runs while she's in the circle.
THESE CLEATS WERE MADE FOR WALKIN': And that's just what they'll do. Senior Ashley Van Boxmeer's reputation preceeded her this past week as opposing pitchers were quite reluctant to give the powerful righty a chance to get a hold of anything. "Box" was walked eight times in five games last week at LMU and UC Santa Barbara - including five straight plate appearances between games one and two against the Lions. The senior leads the team with 17 walks this season and ranks tied for third in the Big West entering the week.
GET HER ON, GET HER HOME: Junior Jessica Doucette has been a sparkplug for the Titans at the top of Fullerton's lineup, as she is hitting .299 from the leadoff spot and has reached base 47 percent of the time. That has translated into good things for the Titans as Doucette has come around to score the game-winning run in 10 of Fullerton's 21 wins this season.
KIKI FINISHES STRONG: Junior Kiki Munoz's week didn't start out good at all as she went a combined 0-for-8 with a pair of walks in two games against LMU and the series opener against UC Santa Barbara. However, as it is often said, it's not how you start, it's how you finish. Munoz responded with a 4-for-5 performance with three RBI at the plate in game two against the Gauchos in the Titans' 11-4 win and also went 1-for-2 with a home run and three RBI in the series finale.
MORE ON MUNOZ: Saturday's four-hit performance was the ninth multi-hit game of the year (and the second for the Titans this season) for the junior catcher, a total that leads the team. Her three RBI on Sunday was her third three-RBI game of the year and her team-best seventh multi-RBI game.
SEND `EM UP... SIT `EM DOWN: Candice Baker extended her league-leading strikeout total to 171 last week - one of only two Big West pitchers thus far to reach the century mark in strikeouts in 2007 (UC Santa Barbara's Jennifer Davis is second with 100). The senior right-hander became only the fifth pitcher in school history to reach the 600-strikeout plateau with 11 K's against Utah on March 21 and her 624 strikeouts rank her fifth on the school's all-time list with current Titans' assistant coach and two-time All-American Gina Oaks (685 career strikeouts) next on the list.
A RECORD READY TO FALL?: With 18 games (plus any possible postseason play) remaining in the season, Baker may be on the verge of toppling one of the program's longest-standing records. The senior righty needs just 78 more strikeouts over that span to tie Susan LeFebvre's career mark of 702 that has stood since the 1986 season.
VAN BOXMEER MOVES INTO TIE FOR THIRD: Senior Ashley Van Boxmeer hit her sixth home run of the year over the weekend against UCSB, giving her 29 for her Titans' career and moving her into a tie for third place on the school's all-time list with All-American Monica Lucatero (1999-02). Van Boxmeer needs just five more to catch Jenny Topping (2001-03) for second place all-time. Fullerton's career record is held by former All-American Yasmin Mossadeghi, who hit 47 in her four-year career for the Titans from 1999-02.
GROMACKI INCHING CLOSER TO MILESTONE: Four wins this past week moved eighth-year Head Coach Michelle Gromacki closer to another coaching milestone as she stands just seven wins shy of 300 for her career. Gromacki, only the second head coach in the history of the program, is 293-151 (.660) all-time at Cal State Fullerton, including a 118-35 (.771) record in Big West Conference games.
SWEEPS WEEK: Since the Big West switched to the three-game conference series in 1999, the Titans have opened their league schedule with a sweep six times, including this past weekend in UC Santa Barbara.
STINGY WITH THE HITS: All three of Cal State Fullerton's starting pitchers this season have been bullish against opposing batters, helping the Titans to a .200 batting average against - a total that ranks second in the league. Seniors Candice Baker and Brooke Weekley, along with junior Jessica Doucette, all rank among the Big West's top 10 in batting average against with Baker leading the way with a .189 average against (2nd in the league). Doucette is right behind her in third place with a .211 average against while Weekley ranks sixth with a .219 average against.
DEPENDABLE: The ironwoman at first base for the Titans, junior Katie Gollhardt has started every game Cal State Fullerton has played since she arrived on campus in 2005 - a stretch of 148 consecutive games.
GIVING ONE FOR THE TEAM: Sophomore Courtney Martinez, who ranks tied for second on the team in runs batted in with 17, has also been adept at giving her teammates chances to drive home runs as she also leads the Big West with 17 sacrifice hits (to go along with one sac fly) and has advanced runners in 60 percent (39-of-65) of her at bats this season. Last season, Martinez had 13 sacrifice hits (and one sac fly) to lead the team as a freshman.
GOTTA WIN THE CLOSE ONES: Cal State Fullerton has been in just about every game it has played this season as 17 of its 36 contests have been decided by two runs or less. However, the Titans are just 8-9 in those contests, hitting just .233 as a team and .188 with runners in scoring position. The Titans have been doing their part defensively, however, holding opponents to a .175 average in those contests and committing only 10 errors in 521 chances (.981) in the field to give their offense a chance.
PROGRAM REACHES WIN MILESTONE: With its victory over \#24 Florida State on March 17, Cal State Fullerton clinched the 1,200th win in the history of the program dating back to 1980. The Titans are 1,206-527-4 in the program's 27-plus seasons for a .695 winning percentage.
TITANS PICKED TO REPEAT AS BIG WEST CHAMPS: The 2007 Cal State Fullerton softball team was picked to repeat as champions of the Big West Conference according to a vote of the league's coaches released on Jan. 24 by the conference office. The Titans received six of the seven possible first-place votes and 48 points overall to outdistance second-place Cal Poly, which received 35 points. The two were followed by last year's runner-up Long Beach State (33 points) in third and UC Santa Barbara and Pacific, which tied for fourth with 25 points apiece. Cal State Northridge (17 points) received the remaining first-place vote and was picked sixth followed by UC Riverside (13 points) in seventh.
BAKER SWEEPS NATIONAL HONORS: In addition to her second Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week award, Cal State Fullerton senior right-hander Candice Baker was named both the USA Softball and NFCA National Player of the Week on March 5 after helping the Titans to a 4-1 record at their own Worth Invitational. Baker allowed only an unearned run on four hits in 21 innings of work, including posting wins over No. 8 Stanford and No. 11 Oregon State. She also held opponents to an .060 average and struck out 20 batters on the weekend.
BAKER IS ONE TO WATCH FOR: Senior right-hander Candice Baker was one of 50 players named to the initial watch list for the sixth annual USA Softball National Player of the Year Award on Jan. 23. The list is comprised of players representing 33 schools and 11 different NCAA Division I conferences. Baker, a two-time All-West Region First-Team selection as a utility player, was 22-10 in the circle as a junior with a 2.16 ERA and a Big West best 259 strikeouts and a .194 batting average against. The list will be pared down to 25 names on April 4 and will shrink yet again to 10 players on May 9. The three finalists will be announced on May 23 with the winner named prior to the start of the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
THE "TITAN FAMILY": Family ties reign supreme at Cal State Fullerton in 2007. Cousins Jenna Wheeler and Courtney Martinez will play together for the second straight season... Yvette Fernandez's cousin is former Fullerton All-American Monica Lucatero... Jessica Doucette's mother, the former Teri Young, was a member of the Titans' first-ever softball team in 1980... Dana Crucil's father, Jeff, was an offensive lineman for the Titans' football team in the early 1970s.
"BOX" EARNS SPOT ON CANADIAN NATIONAL TEAMS: Cal State Fullerton senior Ashley Van Boxmeer was named to Canada's 17-member World University Games team that will compete on Aug. 8-18 in Bangkok, Thailand, and will also compete with the Senior Women's National Team at the 2007 Canada Cup.