April 9, 2009
FULLERTON, CA -
BATTER UP!: Currently sitting in second place after winning its second Big West Conference series of the year, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (16-17 overall, 4-2 in the Big West) looks to break above the .500 mark this weekend when its closes out a six-game road swing with a series at UC Davis. Due to the Easter holiday, the two teams will meet in a doubleheader on Friday afternoon (April 10) at 1:30 p.m. before a single-game finale on Saturday (April 11) at 12 p.m.
IN THE POLLS: Rabbit season. Duck season. It's been one or the other for the Titans who fell out of favor with pollsters and are no longer receiving votes in this week's listings after gaining seven nods in the NFCA poll prior to last week's series at UC Riverside. UC Davis is not listed entering this week's games.
I NEED STATS, STAT!: Barring technical difficulties (insert sound of knocking on wood here), live stats will be available for all three of Cal State Fullerton's games this week at UC Davis. Links will be available on the softball schedule page of FullertonTitans.com or by visiting UC Davis' athletic site at UCDavisAggies.com.
A LOOK AT THE AGGIES: UC Davis enters the weekend with a 19-16 overall record and a 4-2 mark in conference play to stand in a three-way tie for second place with Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly... UCD will face Nevada in a single game on Wednesday (April 8) before welcoming Fullerton... the Aggies have won four of their last five and are coming off a series sweep of Pacific last weekend after losing two-of-three to Long Beach State to open league play... Belinda Paine leads all hitters with a .333 average to go with 13 runs scored and nine stolen bases... Kelly Harman is batting .304 with a team-high three home runs and a team-best 15 RBI... Alex Holmes (8-8, 1.03) and Jessica Hancock (11-8, 1.19) have split the majority of the time in the circle and have helped UC Davis hold opponents to a .203 average this season.
THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with UC Davis, 9-3, but dropped two-of-three to the Aggies at home last season... The Titans are a perfect 6-0 against UC Davis in Northern California, including a series sweep of the Aggies in their last trip north in 2007... Fullerton won those games by the scores of 3-0, 3-1 (13), and 6-2.
LAUREN LIGHTING UP BIG WEST: Senior Lauren Lupinetti's 5-for-10 performance at the plate against UC Riverside last weekend extended her team-best hitting streak to six straight games as the Titans' catcher has gotten off to a grand start in Big West play. Lupinetti is batting .471 (8-for-17) during her streak, scoring four runs, smacking a double, and driving in a pair in that stretch. Her on-base percentage of .500 is tops on the team in that stretch with her .529 slugging percentage is third on the team. In the process, Lupinetti has raised her average almost 60 points to .256 this season.
"CAVEAT CURSOR": Alright... our Latin is a little rusty so, scholars, please bear with us. Lupinetti has also found a rhythm behind the plate defensively, throwing out three of the five runners trying to steal against UC Riverside last weekend and of her last 20 (45 percent) overall. This coming after a slow start that saw her erase just one of the first 31 would-be base stealers this season.
"I FEEL THE NEED... THE NEED FOR SPEED": Sophomore Torrie Anderson had herself quite a weekend on the basepaths for the Titans in the Inland Empire as the speedy lead-off hitter was a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases against the Highlanders - including three steals in the series-opening, 6-2, victory. Anderson now leads the team with five steals (in eight attempts) on the season.
SOLID START FROM THE CIRCLE: Fullerton's pitching duo of sophomore Ari Cervantes and freshman Krystal Heinle have done well to start Big West play, combining to hold the opposition to a .198 batting average (32-for-162) and just three extra base hits in just under 44 innings of play. The Titans' 1.76 ERA in league games ranks fourth in the league while the opponent's batting average is second only to Long Beach State (.190). Fullerton also ranks among the top three in innings (3rd - 43.2), strikeouts (1st - 29), fewest hits allowed (2nd - 32), and fewest runs allowed (3rd - 14).
OFFENSE ALSO ENJOYING CONFERENCE PLAY: The offense is also enjoying a solid start to conference play as five different Titan regulars are batting better than .300 through the first six league contests. Lupinetti (.471) leads the way followed by K.C. Craddick (.364), Francesca Gonzales (.333), Nicole Johnson (.333), and Torrie Anderson (.300). Freshman Trina Harrison is also among that group at .400 , but has just five at-bats thus far, scoring a run and driving in a pair. EVEN STEVEN???: Two wins at UC Davis this weekend will put Cal State Fullerton at the .500 mark for the first time since the Titans were 5-5 through their first 10 games on Feb. 21.
PERFECTION: The Cal State Fullerton defense finally shook off its recent struggles in the field this past weekend at UC Riverside, continuing a string of 24 consecutive innings without an error dating back to the series finale against No. 24 Cal Poly on March 29. While we all know that the jinx is now on (as it always seems to happen with these kind of notes), it is the longest errorless streak for the Titans since they went 35 2/3 innings from April 22-May 5, 2007.
DOUBLE-DIGIT RARITY: Cal State Fullerton's 10 hits in the series opener against UC Riverside last Saturday marked only the second time this season that the Titans have reached double digits in the hits column and the first since a 13-hit outburst against NC State on Feb. 19.
HITS WANTED: Base hits could be at a premium this weekend as two of the league's stingiest pitching staffs will go head-to-head at UC Davis. The Aggies lead the Big West with a .203 opponents batting average while Fullerton ranks third with a .240 average against. Individually, UC Davis' Jessica Hancock leads the conference with a .195 average against while Alex Holmes is sixth at .219. For the Titans, sophomore Ari Cervantes is seventh in the league at .225 while freshman Krystal Heinle stands just outside the top 10 at .250 this season.
FRANCESCA HEATS UP: After struggling to the tune of just three hits in her previous six games (17 at-bats), junior Francesca Gonzales had quite a weekend in Riverside, going 4-for-9 (.444) in the series against the Highlanders with a walk, three doubles, and four RBI to help jack her batting average up 14 points to a team-best .303 on the year.
EXTRA, EXTRA: The Titans have had at least one extra base hit in each of their last 17 games and in 28 of 33 games overall this season. During their 17-game streak, 39 of the team's 111 hits (35 percent) have gone for extra bases - including 12 home runs.
A WINNING PAIR: Sophomore Torrie Anderson's infield single drove home the eventual game-winner in the series opener against UC Riverside last Saturday, giving her a team-high four game-winning RBI this season. Freshman Samantha Dollarhide has also been in the right place at the right time, scoring her third game-winning run this season on Anderson's single - also tops on the team.
NEW GAME, DIFFERENT HERO: In Fullerton's 16 victories this season, the Titans have had eight different players account for the game-winning RBI while 10 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 24 long balls entering this week's games - besting second place Cal Poly by two long balls and standing as one of five conference teams with double-digit home run totals. As a team, Fullerton ranks No. 54 in the nation with 0.73 home runs per contest while, individually, three Titans rank among the Big West's leaders as sophomore Torrie Anderson is third in the league with seven, junior Francesca Gonzales is tied for fifth with five, and senior Courtney Martinez is tied for seventh with four.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?: Fullerton's pitching staff ranks third in the league in strikeouts looking with 59 on the season, trailing only Pacific (68) and Long Beach State (62). Cervantes ranks tied for second in the league individually, as 38 of her 87 strikeout victims left with the bat on their shoulder, while Heinle is ninth in the Big West with 20 batters caught staring this season. Both hurlers also rank among the league's top 10 in strikeouts overall with Cervantes standing fourth entering the week and Heinle ninth with 63 overall.
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 third in the Big West Conference with 15 double plays turned this season. The Titans are also among the nation's best at "turning two," standing at No. 19 in the nation with 0.45 per game and tied for 16th with 15 turned overall.
MARTINEZ BRUSIES HER WAY TO FOURTH: Senior Courtney Martinez was hit by a pitch for the 27th time in her career last weekend in Riverside, moving her into a three-way tie for fourth on the school's all-time list along with former teammates Katie Gollhardt (2005-08) and Candice Baker (2004-07). Lauren Lupinetti is also among the school's top 10 list, ranking seventh with 25 in her career.
SPEAKING OF ICE BAGS: Freshman Nicole Johnson leads the team with six HBPs this season and stands tied for fourth among Big West leaders entering this week's contests. Senior Lauren Lupinetti is also among the top 10, ranking in an eight-way tie for eighth with her five this season and is joined in that list by senior teammate Courtney Martinez.
MILESTONE ACHIEVED: Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Michelle Gromacki became just the fifth coach in the history of the Big West Conference to reach 350 career victories as a member of the league. Now in her 10th season, Gromacki joins the likes of current and former colleagues Pete Manarino (who won a record 791 games at the helm of Long Beach State), Cal State Fullerton's own Judi Garman (581 wins), Pacific's Brian Kolze (501 wins), and former UNLV coach Shan McDonald (350).
"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.
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 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 214 games.
TITANS GIVE BACK: The Cal State Fullerton softball team raised \$1,346 for the Orange County chapter of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation on March 28 against Cal Poly during its inaugural "Power in Pink" event to support breast cancer awareness and research. Funds were raised via voluntary donations and a silent auction for the Titans' game-worn pink jersey's. The Cal State Fullerton softball program wishes to say thank you to all those who contributed to the fund raising effort.
FUN WITH (JERSEY) NUMBERS: Ari Cervantes' \#77 is the highest jersey number worn by a Fullerton softball player in the history of the program... Trina Harrison is the first Titan to wear the \#28... Sarah Hahn is the first Fullerton player since Erin Kirkpatrick in 1997 to wear \#25... Adriana Martinez's \#22 is the most worn jersey number in Cal State Fullerton history, worn by 14 different players... Six current Titans have donned the number of one of Cal State Fullerton's 28 All-America players: Lauren Lupinetti's \#7 (Sue Lewis and Terri Oberg), Courtney Martinez's \#9 (Carey Hess and Julie Watson), Samantha Dollarhide's \#13 (Gina Oaks), Morgan LeMond's \#16 (Val Douglas), Francesca Gonzales' \#24 (Denise DeWalt and Kiki Munoz), and Krystal Heinle's \#33 (Ann Van Dortrecht).
DOLLARHIDE, CERVANTES EARN PLAYER OF THE WEEK ACCOLADES: Cal State Fullerton freshman Samantha Dollarhide and sophomore right-hander Ari Cervantes were named the Big West Conference Player and Co-Pitcher of the Week, respectively, on March 16 after helping the Titans to a 4-1 showing at the prestigious Judi Garman Classic over the weekend.
It is the first career conference weekly laurels for both players and the first for a Fullerton player or pitcher this season.
Dollarhide was one of the tournament's top hitters during the Judi Garman Classic, batting .538 (7-for-13) for the week while slugging a pair of doubles, her first career home run, and driving home five runs in helping the Titans to a share of the tournament title.
Cervantes duplicated her teammate's efforts in the circle, finishing as one of the tournament's top hurlers. The sophomore posted a 3-1 record and a 1.50 ERA for the week while earning the victory against a pair of top-10 teams.
Opponents hit just .176 against Cervantes on the week and finished ranked among the tournament leads in ERA (8th), opposing batting average (6th), innings pitched (2nd), and wins (t2nd).
TITANS PICKED SECOND IN THE BIG WEST: Cal State Fullerton was picked to finish second in the race for the 2009 Big West Conference title according to a vote of the league's head coaches released on Jan. 21. The Titans received 49 points behind defending champion Long Beach State, which garnered seven of the eight first-place votes and 63 points overall. UC Santa Barbara, which gained the remaining first-place vote, and Cal Poly were picked in a tie for third with 45 points followed by Pacific (28), UC Davis (26), Cal State Northridge (21), and UC Riverside (11).
A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Cal State Fullerton returns seven letter winners, four position starters and one pitcher from last season's squad which finished 27-28-1 overall and 11-10 in conference play, but earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the 24th time in 27 seasons. The Titans also welcome 10 newcomers to the fold - seven freshmen and a pair of transfers from nearby Mt. San Antonio College. Senior catcher Lauren Lupinetti is the team's top returning bat a season after hitting .282 with seven home runs and 33 RBI - the latter two statistics leading the team in 2008. Sophomore right-hander Ari Cervantes is the only returning pitcher for the Titans after she threw 26.2 innings and posted an 0-1 record in 11 appearances.
YOU'RE THE BEST... AROUND: Cal State Fullerton's young roster will be thrown directly into the fire during the 2009 season as the Titans' schedule features 10 teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA preseason top 25 and seven more teams listed among those receiving votes.
HELLO, MY NAME IS...: You can't tell the players without a scorecard and some fans may be asking them to wear name tags until they can get everyone straight. Fullerton's 10 newcomers are the most since the team listed 12 new faces on the roster prior to the 2005 campaign.