Highlanders Visit in Early Battle For First Place

April 8, 2010

FULLERTON, CA -

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FIRST PITCH: Off to a perfect start in Big West Conference play, the first-place Cal State Fullerton softball team (8-27 overall, 3-0 in the Big West) stays home this weekend to host a three-game series with Inland Empire rival UC Riverside (17-19, 2-1) at Anderson Family Field. The series opens with a doubleheader on Saturday (April 10) at 12 p.m. with Sunday's single-game finale also beginning at Noon.

I NEED STATS, STAT!: Live in-game statistics via CBS College Sports' Gametracker will be available for all three contests this week from Anderson Family Field. Fans can access the links from the softball schedule page at FullertonTitans.com.

"CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?": Live audio will also be available for every game this week as veteran Cal State Fullerton broadcaster Mike Martinez will provide the play-by-play from Fullerton. Links to the free audio are available by clicking on the headphones icon in the upper right-hand corner of FullertonTitans.com.

I SEE YOU!: Live streaming video, courtesy the Big West TV platform, will be available for all three of this week's contests on a subscription basis. For more information or to sign up to watch all the action live, please visit www.BigWest.org/TV.

IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor UC Riverside are ranked entering this weekend's games.

ABOUT THE HIGHLANDERS: Upstart UC Riverside is off to its best conference start in the school's Division I history after taking 2-of-3 from defending conference champion Cal Poly last weekend in San Luis Obispo... the Highlanders enter the week with a 17-19 overall mark - tied for the most overall wins in the conference thus far this season... UCR's 10-0 shutout of the Mustangs in game one is the largest shutout win in school history while the 16 hits against Cal Poly tied the school mark... freshman Ariel Shore leads the team with 31 hits and a .316 average while Brittany Keeney is hitting .272 with a team-high 26 runs batted in... reigning Big West Pitcher of the Week Marissa Alvidrez is 12-7 overall after allowing just six hits and posting a pair of shutouts against the Mustangs to go along with a 3.46 ERA... she needs just one victory to tie the school record for wins in a single season at the Division I level.

SERIES RECORDS: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with UC Riverside by a 25-3 count, taking two of three from the Highlanders last season in Riverside... the Titans are 12-2 against UCR at home, last taking two-of-three from the Highlanders in 2008 at Anderson Family Field with victories of 11-0 (6 inn.) and 7-3, before a 6-4 loss in the finale... Fullerton has never lost a series with Riverside since the Highlanders joined the conference in 2001-02, posting five sweeps in the eight all-time series.

CENTURY MARK: With its three-game sweep of UC Santa Barbara last weekend at home, Cal State Fullerton earned its 100th win in 109 chances against the Gauchos in the all-time history of the series that dates back to 1980. It is the most wins against any single opponent in school history, easily outdistancing the 68 victories against Long Beach State and the 64 wins against Pacific.

BREAKING OUT THE BROOMS: Cal State Fullerton opened Big West Conference play with a sweep of its opening weekend opponent for the sixth time since the conference switched to three-game series in 1999 and the first since 2007 when the Titans also started their league schedule with three straight wins over UC Santa Barbara. Prior to 1999, the Big West played doubleheaders dating back to 1986, with Fullerton posting seven sweeps in those contests.

TITANS ON A ROLL... HOLD THE MAYO: Fullerton's sweep of the Gauchos gave the Titans their longest winning streak of the season and back-to-back victories for only the second time this season since defeating Southern Utah and Wisconsin back on Feb. 13 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe. Five of Fullerton's eight wins have come in the team's last eight contests as the Titans are hitting .318 as a team in that span while outscoring the opposition, 43-26. Junior Torrie Anderson has led the charge over that stretch, hitting .500 (12-for-24) with 10 runs scored and five multi-hit performances. Fullerton's pitching has also found its groove, posting a 1.78 ERA in 55 innings over the last eight, holding opponents to a .248 average.

DOUBLE-DUTY: Junior right-hander Ari Cervantes was the ultimate example of multi-tasking last weekend against UC Santa Barbara, pitching the Titans to a pair of victories while also hitting a team-high .545 at the plate with a home run and four RBI en route to Big West Player of the Week honors. She finished with a 0.78 ERA in the circle, allowing just one earned over nine innings, and slugged .818 on the weekend at the plate in helping the Titans sprint out to an unbeaten start in league play.

"A PLAYER ON A STREAK HAS TO RESPECT THE STREAK": With multiple hits in each of the team's three games against the Gauchos, Cervantes extended her team-best hitting streak to five consecutive games dating back to a win over then-No. 15 Texas on March 19, batting .600 (9-for-15) with five runs scored. In the process, Cervantes has raised her batting average better than 100 points from .257 to a team-high .360 entering this weekend's contests. It is the second-longest hitting streak by a Titan this season, behind only Torrie Anderson's eight-game streak from Feb. 21-March 5, during which she hit .458 (11-for-24) with seven runs scored, three doubles, five home runs, and 12 RBI.

THE CURE FOR WHAT AILS YA: After struggling to just five wins during the non-conference portion of their difficult 2010 schedule, the Titans' bats found the start of conference play refreshing as the offense finally found its stride. In three games against UC Santa Barbara, Fullerton's offense batted a robust .409 (36-for-88) as a team, outscoring the Gauchos by a 27-7 count and slugging eight home runs in the process. Six regulars finished batting better than .360 on the weekend while sophomores Adriana Martinez (1-for-1) and Krystal Heinle (3-for-5) also got in their knocks. The pitching staff also welcomed the change, posting a 1.05 ERA in the three-game series (three earned in 20 innings), holding UCSB to a combined .278 (25-for-90) average on the weekend.

APRIL IN LIKE A LION, MARCH OUT LIKE A LAMB: How big was Fullerton's weekend series against UC Santa Barbara? The Titans' 27 runs in the three-game series to start the month of April were almost as many as they scored in the entire month of March when they plated 37 runs in 16 games combined.

DOUBLING UP: The 10 and 12 runs scored in the first two games of last weekend's series marked only the second and third times this season that the Titans have scored 10-or-more runs in a game this season and the first since they put up 14 runs in a win over Southern Utah on Feb. 13. The 16 hits in the second game of the series marked a season high as Fullerton also collected 10-or-more hits for the fifth and sixth times this season in those two contests.

BONUS SOFTBALL: Fullerton's nine-inning victory over the Gauchos in the series finale was only the second extra-inning affair for the Titans this season, evening their record at 1-1. Both contests went nine innings, but Fullerton came out on the wrong end of a 10-5 loss to Colorado State on Feb. 27 in Cathedral City.

"BOOM" GOES THE DYNAMITE: The Titans' long-ball display against the Gauchos last weekend gave Cal State Fullerton 26 round-trippers on the season - tops in the conference and eight better than second-place Cal State Northridge. Sophomore Trina Harrison's two home runs versus UCSB gave her a league-best nine for the season while junior Torrie Anderson ranks third in the league with seven. Ari Cervantes and Nicole Johnson are among a group of five players in the league tied for eighth place with three home runs apiece.

GAME-WINNING WALK-OFF PUTS TORRIE IN THE BOOKS: Anderson's walk-off two-run home run to clinch the Titans' game-three victory over UC Santa Barbara not only won the game for the home team, but put the hard-hitting outfielder among the top power hitters in the history of the program. Anderson's seventh home run of the season gave her 21 for her career - tying her with All-American Jodie Cox (2000-03) for 10th on the school's all-time list. Next up: Katie Gollhardt (2005-08), who finished her stellar four-year career with 23 home runs, good for ninth place.

WHILE WE'RE AT IT...: Trina Harrison's nine home runs this season have her on the verge of breaking into the school's single-season top 10 list with 18 regular season games remaining, trailing three players (including teammate Torrie Anderson) with 11 home runs in a season for ninth place. Anderson, who hit 11 home runs last season as a sophomore, joins former Titans Jessica Doucette (11 in 2007) and Chris Zboril (11 in 1996) in that spot.

CRADDICK MAKES BID FOR NCAA RECORD: Just a week after netting her first career triple, junior K.C. Craddick almost had her name in the NCAA record books after a stellar 3-for-4 night against UC Santa Barbara in game two of the series. Craddick doubled twice in her first two at bats against the Gauchos in that contest, narrowly missing out on the record of three doubles in a single game accomplished 90 times (prior to the start of the 2010 season).

ISN'T THAT "GRAND": Sophomores Nicole Johnson and Trina Harrison each slugged grand slams as part of the Titans' 12-3 victory in game two against UC Santa Barbara last weekend, the first time that has happened since current Titan Torrie Anderson and former All-American Kiki Munoz accomplished the feat as part of an 11-0 win over UC Riverside on April 5, 2008. The grand slams were the second and third hit by a Titan this season after Anderson slugged one at UCLA back on Feb. 24 as Fullerton tried to rally in the seventh. For Johnson, it was her second career grand slam after hitting one against Cal Poly on March 29 last season, and the first in Harrison's brief career while Anderson leads all active Titans with three in her two-plus seasons at Fullerton.

HARRISON GOES THE EXTRA MILE: Or 60 feet as it were. Of sophomore Trina Harrison's 20 hits this season, 13 have gone for extra bases as she has slugged a league-leading nine home runs and four doubles to pace the team, helping her to a .573 slugging percentage which ranks second in the league. She also stands second in RBI (24) and total bases (51).

"NAT" GETS INTO THE ACT: Junior Natalie DeLeese added to Fullerton's home run total on the weekend, slugging her first career home run at the Division I level to end the Titans' 12-3 game two victory over UC Santa Barbara.

PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER: Three Titans have shown tremendous patience at this plate this season as juniors Torrie Anderson and K.C. Craddick, along with freshman Ariel Tsuchiyama, rank among the most-walked batters in the Big West this season. Anderson has walked a team-high 17 times this season - which stands tied for fifth in the Big West - while Tsuchiyama's 15 walks put her in a tie for seventh place. Craddick has drawn 14 free passes this year - one of three players tied for ninth in the league.

CATCHING ON FAST: Freshman Ariel Tsuchiyama has done a bang-up job behind the plate defensively 33 games into her rookie season, posting a .993 fielding percentage (one error in 146 chances) as the Titans' starting catcher while throwing out a league-best 11 baserunners from behind the dish.

LUCKY SEVEN: Sophomore Trina Harrison became the first Titan to drive in seven runs in a single game in almost eight years, matching the performance of former Cal State Fullerton All-American Jodie Cox, who finished 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, a triple, and seven RBI in a victory at Utah State on March 30, 2002. Harrison becomes the fifth Titan since 1997 to drive in as many runs, joining Cox, Yasmin Mossadeghi (vs. UNLV on 3.29.00) and Dara Marzolo (vs. Georgia State on 3.19.97) with seven RBI, while Gina Oaks drove in eight runs against Kansas on a pair of grand slams on Feb. 2, 2001. Oaks' eight RBI are the most in program history dating back to 1987 when complete season box scores are available.

PULLING RANK: Fullerton's win over then-No. 15 Texas (and, subsequently, its victory over then-No. 23 Louisiana-Lafayette) marked the Titans' first win over a ranked opponent this season in 10 tries and their first since they took two-of-three from then-No. 24 Cal Poly to kick off Big West Conference play on March 28, 2009. Fullerton is 2-10 against ranked opposition this season.