April 7, 2011
FULLERTON, CA -
PLAY BALL: Following a successful start to its Big West Conference season, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (13-16 overall, 2-1 in Big West play) remains on the road this weekend for its second league series, heading to UC Riverside for a three-game series on April 9-10 at Amy S. Harrison Field. Games on both days begin at 12 p.m.
IN THE POLLS: Neither the Titans nor Highlanders are listed in either the USA Today/NFCA or ESPN.com/USA Softball national coaches polls this week.
I NEED STATS, STAT!: Once again in 2011, live in-game statistics via CBS College Sports' Gametracker will be available for all Cal State Fullerton home games and selected road contests this season (barring technical difficulties). Fans can access the links from the softball schedule page at FullertonTitans.com.
I SEE YOU!: For the sixth consecutive season, fans can watch live streaming video over the Internet thanks to a partnership between the Big West Conference and CBS College Sports. Live video streaming of selected Cal State Fullerton softball home and road contests will be available on a subscription basis and can be accessed by visiting www.BigWest.org/TV. A monthly subscription of \$9.95 or an annual subscription of \$79.95 delivers exclusive coverage of every home and conference women's volleyball and men's and women's basketball contests along with selected men's and women's soccer, baseball, softball, and Big West championships.
BELATED CONGRATS: Math majors we are not, but congratulations nonetheless to the Titans' softball program, which clinched the 1,300th victory in the history of the sport on campus with its 3-2 walk-off win against Oregon State on March 6. Fullerton is now 1,307-639-5 (.671) in 31-plus seasons of softball.
ABOUT UC RIVERSIDE: The Highlanders enter the weekend with an 8-20 overall record and a 1-2 mark in Big West Conference play after dropping a series to Cal Poly last weekend at home and falling in a doubleheader at Cal State Bakersfield on Wednesday... six of the team's eight wins this season have come at home... Kayla White leads UC Riverside's offense with a .376 average, two home runs, and 16 RBI... she is one of three players batting over .300 this season, joined by Kameryn Hebenton (.351) and Brittany Keeney (.302)... the Highlanders are hitting .274 as a team (2nd in the Big West) and have swiped a Big West-best 44 stolen bases (in 49 attempts)... transfer Jordyn McDonald has seen the majority of innings in the circle this season, posting a 5-8 record and a 4.33 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 97 innings... Casey Suda (1-7, 7.71) and Amy Lwin (2-5, 8.28) have also seen time.
SERIES NOTES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with UC Riverside by a 26-5 count in a series that dates back to 1985, but the Titans are coming off their first-ever series loss to the Highlanders last season as UCR posted a pair of victories at Anderson Family Field in 2010 by the scores of 5-4 and 4-1 in games one and three of the series... the Titans rebounded after their game one loss with a 2-1 win in the second game... Fullerton is 13-1 all-time against Riverside on the Highlanders' home field, winning the series in its last trip to the Inland Empire in 2009, 2-1, and 11 of the last 12 since UC Riverside's first Big West season in 2002.
TITANS THIRD AMONG BIG WEST TEAMS IN FIRST NCAA RPI: Cal State Fullerton was ranked third among Big West Conference teams in the first NCAA RPI report released on April 4, standing as one of four league sqauds in the top 100 at No. 69 this week. Long Beach State (No. 19) leads the way followed by Pacific (No. 52) with UC Santa Barbara rounding out the quartet at No. 95.
ON THE ROAD... AGAIN: Cal State Fullerton continues Big West Conference play on the road for the second consecutive weekend - the first time since the league switched to three-game series in 1999 that the Titans have played their first two conference weekends away from home. When Fullerton faces Cal Poly on April 16 at Anderson Family Field, it will be the latest that the Titans have ever opened the home portion of their conference schedule.
ROAD WARRIORS: When the Titans took 2-of-3 from the Gauchos last weekend in their first true road games of the season, they instantly put themselves one win shy of their road victory total from all of 2010 when they finished 3-8 in true road games. Including this weekend's series against UC Riverside, Fullerton has nine road games remaining in 2011 with three at the Highlanders' home field, three at UC Davis, and three more at archrival Long Beach State.
RUNS AT A PREMIUM: Cal State Fullerton outscored UC Santa Barbara, 9-8, in last weekend's conference-opening series victory as the nine runs scored by the Titans were the fewest in a series win since the Titans took two-of-three from Long Beach State in 2008 by the combined score of 7-4 (a 3-2 loss in eight innings and wins of 2-1 and 3-0). All three games against the Gauchos were of the one-run variety as Fullerton improved to 7-3 in those contests in 2011.
SAVE ME!: Senior Ari Cervantes had a hand in all three of the Titans' results last weekend in the circle, finishing 1-1 with a save against the Gauchos, allowing just four runs on 12 hits in 16 innings (1.75 ERA) of work in helping Fullerton to the series win. Cervantes' entered in relief of teammate Katey Laban in game two, throwing 1 1/3 innings of hitless relief to nail down her first save of the year and the fifth of her career, moving her into fifth place on the school's all-time list. She is one save behind Jennifer Mortensen (1993-95) for fourth place, but 10 behind all-time leader Christy Robitaille, who tallied 15 saves from 1999-02.
EXTRA-INNING MAGIC: Cal State Fullerton's nine-inning win over UC Santa Barbara in the series finale improved the Titans to 3-1 in extra innings this season, helped by some masterful performances by senior right-hander Ari Cervantes, who is 3-0 in those games with a 1.40 ERA, allowing just five earned on 16 hits in 25 innings pitched. The nine-inning complete-game was the longest of the year for Cervantes and her longest since going 10 innings in a 4-3 win at Pacific last season on May 1.
BONUS SOFTBALL: Fullerton's four extra-inning games this season are the most for the Titans since they had the same number in 2009 and their 3-1 mark this season improved them to 121-76-4 (.612) all time in extra-inning contests dating back to the program's inception in 1980. The nine-inning win was Fullerton's longest game since the Titans played 10 innings at Pacific on May 1 last season when they improved to 51-27-4 (.646) in games of 10 innings or more with a 4-3 victory over the Tigers.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR?: Cervantes is surely making a case for herself. After going just 6-19 overall in the circle last season, the senior right-hander has turned things around to rank among the league's top hurlers as the start of confernce play looms on the horizon. Cervantes, who enters the weekend 10-9 overall, ranks second in the league in ERA (2.30), sixth in opponents batting average (.239), second in innings pitched (130.2), sixth in strikeouts (75), third in strikeouts looking (27), and third in wins.
JOHNSON CONTINUES CLUTCH PLAY: Junior Nicole Johnson has had a hand in each of the Titans' last five victories, scoring the game-winning run three times while tying the score after getting on base twice in helping Fullerton get into the win column. Against Ohio on March 26, her triple scored the tying run and she came home on a throwing error in a 2-1 Titan win and followed that up by scoring the tying run on teammate Torrie Anderson's three-run home run against Canisius later that day. In a 1-0 win over Cal State Bakersfield, Johnson doubled and scored on Tish Dedeaux's RBI single on March 27, and followed that up with a pair of key hits against UC Santa Barbara last weekend, reaching on a single and scoring the trying run on Anderson's three-run double in a 5-4 win on April 2 before slugging her second home run of the season in the ninth inning of the series finale against the Gauchos to beat UCSB, 3-2.
S.O.S. - SAVE OUR SCORERS: Results from Santa Barbara last weekend (and the rest of the 2011 season for that matter) could have been much different if the Titans' bats could have come up with the key hit as Fullerton stranded 24 runners on base for the series - over half (14) of those in scoring position. It's been a problem that has plagued them all year as Fullerton is hitting just .248 as a team with runners in scoring position and have left 112 of their 171 total runners left on base at second base or closer this season.
MARTINEZ JOINS THE THREE-HIT CLUB: Junior Adriana Martinez became only the second Titan to notch three hits in a game this season, tying a career high with her 3-for-3 outing in game one against UC Santa Barbara on April 2. Prior to that game, only junior Nicole Johnson had collected three-or-more hits in a game this season with a four-hit performance against Troy (March 8) and a 3-for-4 day against Cal State Bakersfield (March 27). Johnson eventually added to her total with a 3-for-4 afternoon in the series finale against the Gauchos, giving her six multi-hit games this season (tied for second on the team).
MARTINEZ MASHING: After enduring a stretch where she collected just four hits in a 15-game stretch (a total of 34 at-bats for a .118 average), Martinez has found a groove as the Titans' second "lead-off" hitter at the bottom of the order. The junior infielder is batting .438 (7-for-16) over her last five games, collecting nearly half of her 18 hits this season in the process, with a pair of stolen bases and an RBI. She has hit safely in four of those five contests, including a pair of multi-hit games, and ranks fourth on the team with five multi-hit games this season.
ANDERSON'S TIME TO FINISH: In the midst of a season-long slump that has seen her hit just .161 with a home run and 12 RBI entering conference play, it may be time for senior Torrie Anderson to break-out in her final collegiate season. Anderson, who was 2-for-9 last weekend at the plate in Fullerton's conference-opening series against UC Santa Barbara, is a career .336 (51-for-152) hitter in Big West Conference play with 36 runs scored, 11 doubles, nine home runs and 33 RBI while walking 23 times in 53 career league games entering the 2011 schedule.
IT'S NOT THE NEW FENCE: The outfield fences at Anderson Family Field, literally, underwent a lift in the off season, raised to a height of six feet from their previous four feet that had been the norm since the field was redone prior to 2001. However, it seems that the new height hasn't stopped the Titans' sluggers as seven of the team's 11 home runs this season have come at home - three more than the entire non-conference home schedule from 2010 and almost half of the 16 long balls hit at home in all of last season.
AND THE HITS (BY PITCH) JUST KEEP ON COMING: Yet another bruise for junior Nicole Johnson and third place on the career hit by pitch list is all hers. Johnson, who was hit for the 10th time this season in the series finale against UC Santa Barbara on Sunday, solidified her hold on third place on the school's all-time list with 32 HBPs, standing 15 shy of Amanda Hockett for No. 2 all time. Johnson leads the team, and stands third in the Big West, with her 10 HBPs this season - standing just two shy of entering Fullerton's single-season chart for a second time. Crystal Vieyra (2005-08) holds the school's career record, and stands fourth in the NCAA all time, with 56 HBPs during her stay at Cal State Fullerton while Hockett holds the single-season record at 20 in 2002.
SETTING THE TABLE: Cal State Fullerton's leadoff hitters have done a solid job getting things started this season, reaching base 37 percent (71 times in 190 opportunities) of the time, compared to just 32 percent (65-for-206) for the opposition. Senior K.C. Craddick has led the way for the Titans' offense, reaching base as the lead-off hitter in 12-of-20 attempts (.600) and is followed very closely by freshman Lauren Mario, who has reached in 15-of-30 (.500) opportunities, and junior Adriana Martinez, who has reached in 11-of-26 tries (.423).
NOTHING FOR FREE: Opponents have made the Titans work for their runs off free passes this season as, of the team's 74 walks this season, only 18 have come around to score (24 percent) while half (28) of the remaining 56 have been stranded in scoring position.
"FASTER THAN FAST, QUICKER THAN QUICK": They are speed. Cal State Fullerton enters the weekend with 24 stolen bases in 29 games thus far this season, ahead of last year's pace that didn't see the Titans swipe their 24th base until game 34 against UC Santa Barbara on April 2. Fullerton enters the week ranked tied for third in the Big West Conference in steals and has eight players with at least one stolen base this season.
WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER: Talk about timing. Eight different players have driven home the game-winning run for the Titans this season, including a pair from senior K.C. Craddick, while six different players have also come around to score game-winning runs, including a team-best five from junior Nicole Johnson.