April 5, 2006
FULLERTON, CA -
Big West Conference play rolls on this weekend as the Cal State Fullerton softball team (21-17 overall, 2-1 in Big West play) travels to Cal State Northridge for a three-game series at Matador Diamond beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday (April 8) at noon and concluding with a single game on Sunday (April 9), also at noon.
IN THE POLLS
Neither Cal State Fullerton nor Cal State Northridge are ranked in either of this week's polls.
Cal State Fullerton holds a 48-28-1 lead in the all-time series against Cal State Northridge dating back to the 1980 season... the Titans have won the last four consecutive meetings and 16 of the last 18 dating back to the 2000 season... both of the losses in that span have been by a single run: 1-0 in 2001 and 3-2 in 2004... Fullerton is 17-12-1 at Matador Diamond all-time, including winning five of the last six.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE: The Matadors are coming off of a rain-shortened series at Long Beach State in which Northridge dropped two games to the 49ers on Sunday (Game three was rained out and will be made up later in April).
Northridge is led offensively by freshman outfielder Amanda Peek, who is hitting .392 with five home runs and 11 RBI. She leads the team in six offensive categories - including a slugging percentage of .703.
The pitching staff has seen freshman Selena Salazar and junior transfer Sam Schroeder split time in the circle. Salazar leads the team with a 3.28 ERA and 63 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .223 average this season. Schroeder is 7-7 overall and has logged a staff-best 79 innings.
Opponents are hitting .285 against the Matadors this season and are averaging just under 4.5 runs per game.
MUNOZ NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Cal State Fullerton sophomore Kiki Munoz was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week on Monday afternoon after a productive weekend at the plate helped the Titans to a series win over UC Santa Barbara.
It is the second career conference weekly honor for Munoz, who earned the honor last season as a freshman on March 8, and the third for a Titan player this season following Crystal Vieyra (Feb. 20) and Candice Baker (March 27).
Munoz hit .364 for the three-game series with a pair of doubles and two home runs, including the game-winning round-tripper in game two of the series against the Gauchos. She drove in six runs, slugged 1.091 for the weekend, and amassed an on-base percentage of .462.
STREAK SNAPPED, NEW ONE STARTED
UC Santa Barbara's win in game one of the series snapped a 24-game losing streak for the Gauchos in Fullerton and earned them only their second victory in 43 games. However, the Titans rebounded by winning the final two games of the series and improved to 43-2 all-time against UCSB at home and 90-7 overall in the series dating back to 1980.
HEY, WE KNOW YOU!
Cal State Fullerton's bats better be ready this weekend as the Titans will be taking on a pitching staff coached by one of the best pitchers in Cal State Fullerton history. Former Titan All-American and Big West Pitcher of the Year Jodie Cox (2000-03) is in her first season as the Matadors' pitching coach after spending a season in the same capacity at Syracuse.
BACK IN THE SLUG OF THINGS
The Titans' offense went deep five times on the weekend against the Gauchos, bringing their total to a league-leading 28 home runs on the season - a mark that ties Fullerton's total for all of last year and is the highest home run total for a Titans squad since 2003 (37).
DO RUN, RUN, RUN
Cal State Fullerton has outscored opponents 154-121 this season, doing most of its damage in the middle three innings when the Titans have scored just under half of their runs on the season. The 154 runs leads all teams in the Big West Conference this season and is just 30 runs short of all of last season's total (with 20 regular season games remaining) and is equal to Fullerton's team run total of 2004.
Junior righty Candice Baker tossed 10 innings in a complete-game victory over UC Santa Barbara in game two of Saturday's doubleheader, narrowly missing tying her career high of 11 innings pitched against UCLA at last year's NCAA Regionals. Baker appeared in all three games for the Titans this weekend against the Gauchos and leads the league with 24 appearances this season in the circle in Fullerton's 38 games.
Forget the Wheaties box, Candice Baker may be aiming for the front of another cereal box with her pitching performances this season. Baker, who leads the Big West by a large margin with 165 strikeouts, struck out 20 Gauchos on the weekend, including 12 in her 10-inning win in game two marking the fifth time this season she has struck out 10-or-more batters. It is the third-highest single-game total for the righty this season, trailing only the 18 K's against Washington (9 inn.) and 16 whiffs against Oklahoma State (7 inn.).
MARTINEZ ON A BIT OF A TEAR
Fullerton freshman infielder Courtney Martinez is starting to heat things up a bit, extending her hitting streak to a team-best five games this past weekend against UC Santa Barbara. Martinez is hitting .375 (6-for-16) in that stretch with five runs scored, three extra base hits (including a pair of home runs) and three RBI. In the process, the freshman has increased her batting average 64 points to .231 this season.
Cal State Fullerton sophomore Amanda Kamekona returned to the field against UC Santa Barbara after a hand injury suffered against Stanford back on March 5 forced her to miss the Titans' next 16 games. Kamekona, who led the team with a .351 average before leaving with the injury, pinch-ran three times against the Gauchos, scoring twice.
THE "BOX" CYCLE
Cal State Fullerton junior outfielder Ashley Van Boxmeer narrowly missed hitting for the cycle in the Titans' 8-6 loss to UC Santa Barbara in game one on Saturday. Van Boxmeer singled in the third inning, tripled home a run in the fifth, and drove in a run with a double in the seventh to finish 3-for-4.
The Titans' split in their Big West opening doubleheader with the Gauchos on April 1 - marking the 11th time in 13 "doubleheaders" this season that Fullerton has done so. Fullerton's only sweeps this season have come on March 7 vs. Loyola-Chicago and Virginia and on March 25 in two games against Ohio State.
LONG BALLS NOT SO PRODUCTIVE
Of Cal State Fullerton's last 11 home runs hit, six of those have come with only one runner on with the other five round-trippers of the solo variety. All but four of the Titans' home runs have come with one runner on or less - including eight solo shots. Despite the lack of runners, however, it hasn't seemed to hurt Fullerton as the Titans are 8-4 this season when hitting a home run (5-2 when hitting two or more) - including six wins in their last seven such games.
Junior righty Candice Baker has blossomed into one of the Big West Conference's best pitchers this season, entering the week leading the league in five different categories: innings (139.1), strikeouts (165), batters struck out looking (41), appearances (24), and games started (18). She also co-leads the conference in victories (14) and ranks tied for second in complete games (15) and shutouts (3), and is second in opponents batting average (.212).
Nowhere to hide for opposing pitchers this season as its seems like the entire Titans lineup is capable of going deep. Fullerton has had a school record 11 different players go deep this season, surpassing the previous high of 10 different home run hitters in the 2002 and 1981 seasons. Sophomore Kiki Munoz became the record-breaker with her two-home run game - her first two of the season - in game two against UC Santa Barbara on April 1.
BAKER INTO THE RECORD BOOKS
A strong junior season in the circle has propelled Candice Baker into the Cal State Fullerton record books. Baker, who has struck out a league-best 165 this season, has 359 K's for her career, placing her ninth on the career list - just 31 short of Christy Robitaille (1999-02) for eighth place. Should she get to 31, Baker's 32nd strikeout will not only put her into eighth on the career record list all by her lonesome, but will tie her with Connie Clark's 1986 total of 197 for 10th on the single-season list.
Cal State Fullerton's defense has been quite adept in turning two this season, leading the Big West Conference with 17 twin killings this season, and is one of three teams in the league with 10-or-more double plays in 2006. The Titans have twice turns three double plays in a game this season (vs. Utah State on Feb. 18 and at San Diego State on March 10) and have turned two twice in a game on two other occassions.
BAKER CONTINUES CAREER YEAR
Candice Baker's masterful performance in the circle against Notre Dame on March 15 gave the junior righthander her 10th win of the season - setting a new career high for pitching victories. Her previous best was set last season when she posted nine wins as a sophomore. Aside from wins (now 14), Baker has also set personal career bests in strikeouts (165), innings (139.1), complete games (15), and shutouts (3).
WHEELER COMING BACK IN A BIG WAY
After sitting out all of her true sophomore season, utility player Jenna Wheeler is making good on her second chance for a second season by hitting .305 with four home runs, 14 RBI, and 14 runs scored. She ranks second on the team in hitting (after hitting just .227 as a freshman) and ranks among the Big West Conference leaders in slugging percentage (9th - .524), on base percentage (7th - .436) and walks (t4th - 16).
VAN BOXMEER CLOSING IN
Just a little more on Ashley Van Boxmeer. Her sixth home run of the season on March 10 in the second game of a doubleheader at San Diego State gave her 16 for her Titans' career - which ranks just three round-trippers short of the all-time top 10 list.
SPEAKING OF BRUISES
Crystal Vieyra isn't the only one with an ice pack permanently attached somewhere on her body. Junior Candice Baker ranks third in the league behind her oft-hit teammate with eight HBPs in 2006 - giving her 15 for her career and placing her fifth on the school's all-time list. The Titans have five of the league's most hit players as Courtney Martinez ranks tied for fourth with six HBPs, Katie Gollhardt is tied for sixth with four, and Ashley Van Boxmeer is one of four players tied for 10th with three.
GOING THE EXTRA BASE
The Titans are hording the extra base hits. Of Fullerton's 230 hits, 87 have gone for extra bases (38 percent), while the Titans lead the Big West Conference in each extra base category entering this week's play with 48 doubles, 11 triples, and 28 home runs.
SPEAKING OF EXTRA BASES
Fullerton has legged out 11 triples and hit 28 home runs this season - just short of the triples totals for all of last season and matching last year's home run total with 20 games in 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 continues to be on target in 2006 behind the plate, throwing out 13-of-27 (48 percent) would be base stealers this season - compared to just one thrown out during her 2005 junior season - and leads the league with three runners picked off. That comes as nothing new to the senior, who threw out 23 base runners attempting to steal as a freshman at Providence College in 2003.
SPEED TO BURN
Junior Candice Baker is another Titan rapidly approaching a career top 10 list, standing just one stolen base short of tenth-place Carrie Davis' (1996-99) career total of 24. Baker, who has seven steals in nine attempts this season, had her quickest season in 2005, swiping 10-of-13 as a sophomore. Should she reach the top 10, Baker would become the first Titan since Julie Watson iin 2004 to break onto that list and only the second player in five seasons to do so.
HEAD 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-plus seasons to the Titans' program after spending five years as an assistant to Hall of Fame Head Coach Judi Garman. Gromacki has compiled a 256-129 (.665) 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.