First-Place Titans Head to Rival Long Beach State

April 22, 2009

FULLERTON, CA -

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BATTER UP!: After racking up its second consecutive sweep of a conference opponent last weekend to remain atop the league standings, the Cal State Fullerton softball team (22-17, 10-2 in the Big West) takes its share of first place on the road this weekend for a key match-up against third-place Long Beach State at the 49er Softball Complex. Saturday's (April 25) doubleheader begins at 1 p.m. while a single game closes out the series on Sunday (April 26), also at 1 p.m.

IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor Long Beach State are listed in the coaches top 25 polls this week.

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 Long Beach State. Links will be available on the softball schedule page of FullertonTitans.com.

A LOOK AT THE 49ERS: Long Beach State enters the weekend with a 27-17 overall record and an 8-4 mark in Big West play following a sweep of UC Santa Barbara last weekend to sit in third place... the 49ers have won seven of their last 10 with the only three losses coming in a sweep at the hands of Cal Poly two weekends ago... Long Beach State will have the home field advantage this weekend as the 49ers are 16-3 on their home field... Danielle Linke leads the team offensively, batting .346 with six home runs and 22 RBI... Jennifer Griffin is batting .331 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 34 RBI while walking 38 times... the potent duo of sophomore Brooke Turner (15-9, 2.44 ERA) and freshman Taylor Petty (11-4, 1.17) led the 49ers in the circle, holding opponents to a .232 average this season.

THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Long Beach State, 67-44, winning the last two straight after clinching the series with the 49ers last season at Anderson Family Field... Fullerton is 33-18 all-time in Long Beach compared to just 31-25 at home against the 49ers... Long Beach State took two-of-three from Fullerton in the Titans' last trip to Long Beach in 2007 and have won five of the last six overall.

ANDERSON MAKES IT BACK-TO-BACK AWARDS FOR TITANS: Cal State Fullerton sophomore outfielder Torrie Anderson was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week on Monday morning, giving the Titans back-to-back weekly winners. It is the first career Big West honor for Anderson, who joins teammates Francesca Gonzales (April 13) and Samantha Dollarhide (March 16) as player of the week winners for Fullerton this season. Anderson hit .400 for the weekend, scoring three runs, slugging a pair of home runs, and combining to drive home seven of the team's 12 runs against Pacific.

YOU COULD CALL THAT TIMELY HITTING: Junior Francesca Gonzales struggled at the plate this past weekend against Pacific, tallying only two hits against Tigers pitching. However, those two hits couldn't have been bigger for the Titans as both hits went for home runs and both ended up as game-winners, helping Fullerton to victories in the final two games of the series.

ISN'T IT GRAND?: Sophomore Torrie Anderson's walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth in game one against Pacific not only lifted the Titans to the win, it marked the third four-run home run for Cal State Fullerton this season following Lauren Lupinetti's blast against Longwood on March 7 and Nicole Johnson's grand slam against Cal Poly on March 29. It was the second career grand slam for Anderson, who also had one as a freshman in a win over UC Riverside as a pinch-hitter on April 5, 2008.

WELCOME BACK WHIT: Senior outfielder Whitney Kroh made her return to the lineup this past weekend against Pacific, starting all three games of the series in the outfield and notching her first hit in almost two years. Kroh, who missed all of last season due to injury, had made only seven starts in 20 games this season before last weekend and tallied a base hit in the opener against the Tigers - her first hit since finishing 1-for-3 against Pacific on April 21, 2007.

WHAT'S A PITCHER GOTTA DO?: Sophomore Ari Cervantes continues to put up pitcher of the week-type numbers, extending her streak of victories in each of her last six starts with a pair of wins last weekend against Pacific. During her run, Cervantes has posted a 1.11 ERA in her last 44 innings, scattering 37 hits (only three for extra bases) and holding opponents to a .230 (37-for-161) average.

RESPECT THE STREAK: Cal State Fullerton's seven straight victories marks the program's longest winning streak since the Titans won eight straight from March 27 until April 14 in 2007.

THESE CHICKS DIG THE LONG BALL: The Titans' power display continued last weekend against Pacific as Fullerton slugged five home runs during its three-game sweep. The Titans have hit a home run in each of the their last six games, but that streak may be in jeopardy this weekend as Cal State Fullerton travels to the 49er Softball Complex - a notoriously pitcher-friendly park where the Titans have never hit a home run since Long Beach State moved on campus on a full-time basis in 1995 (a string of 23 consecutive games).

THAT'S THE WAY (uh, huh, uh, huh) I LIKE IT (uh, huh, uh, huh): Sophomore K.C. Craddick has been a ray of sunshine as of late, currently holding the team's longest active hitting streak at six consecutive games - just one shy of matching teammate Lauren Lupinetti for the longest by a Titan this season. Craddick, whose streak began two weekends ago on the road at UC Davis, is batting .500 (9-for-18) during her streak with two runs scored, a pair of RBI, and three multi-hit games. Her seven multi-hit games this season are good for second on the team behind only Francesca Gonzales' 10 on the year.

K.C.'S WILD, WILD (BIG) WEST: No one knows if she has some sort of inside information on Big West Conference pitching, but there was probably no player in the league more eager to begin conference play than K.C. Craddick. The sophomore, who entered the league schedule batting just .159 with six RBI and 21 strikeouts in 26 non-conference games, has tuned up league pitching though the first 12 games this season, batting a conference-best .448 with three doubles, four RBI and only three strikeouts. She is also slugging .552 and has an on-base percentage of .469 in Big West games. Last season, Craddick also feasted on conference pitching, batting .339 en route to postseason all-league honors.

ANOTHER MILESTONE WITHIN REACH: Cal State Fullerton head coach Michelle Gromacki, who won her 350th career game earlier this year on March 28 against Cal Poly, is just one conference victory away from joining four other coaches with 350 career wins and 150 conference victories. The other coaches on that list: former Long Beach State skipper Pete Manarino (791/393), former Fullerton Hall of Fame Head Coach Judi Garman (581/302), Pacific head coach Brian Kolze (517/208), and former UNLV head coach Shan McDonald (350/190).

NOT TO BE OUTDONE: Torrie Anderson is also on a little bit of a hitting streak herself, extending her run to five straight games this weekend. The sophomore from Castaic is batting .412 (7-for-17) during her run with five runs scored and nine RBI.

"LET'S GROOVE TONIGHT": Since starting the season with just five wins in their first 16 games, the Titans have found their winning groove, currently riding a season-high four-game winning streak and posting a 17-6 record over their last 23 games. In that stretch, Fullerton is hitting .264 as a team while holding an 94-64 scoring advantage and slugging 21 home runs. The pitching staff has also gotten stronger, posting a 1.96 ERA (including an 13-4 mark and a 1.74 ERA by Ari Cervantes) and holding opponents to a .220 batting average.

BETCHA CAN'T SCORE JUST ONE: Fullerton has made a habit of having big innings in 2009, scoring multiple runs in 30 of a possible 72 scoring innings - a 42 percent clip.

TITANS OUT OF THE GATES QUICKLY: Fullerton's sweep over Pacific not only kept the Titans at the top of the Big West standings, but it gave the Titans their best 12-game start in conference play since 2003 when they opened the league season with an 11-1 record - which included a string of 10 consecutive wins to start the conference schedule.

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING: The Titans' offense has broken out with seven or more hits in nine of their last 10 games and are averaging 8.50 hits per contest over that span. Dating back to the third game of the series against then-No. 24 Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton's team batting average has jumped 24 points to .234 on the season while batting .294 (85-for-289), with 10 home runs and 15 doubles while outscoring the opposition 50-24 in that stretch.

KEEP IT IN THE YARD: Cal State Fullerton's pitching staff has done well to keep the ball in the yard as of late, holding opponents to without a home run in the last 68 2/3 innings dating back to the final game of the series against No. 24 Cal Poly. That's a tremendous feat for a Titans squad that has allowed 21 home runs this season - a total that ranks as the third most in the Big West Conference this season.

NO POWER SHORTAGE HERE: The Fullerton lineup continues to generate power this season as the Titans' continue to lead the Big West with 33 long balls entering this week's games - besting second place Cal Poly by six long balls and standing as one of six conference teams with double-digit home run totals. As a team, Fullerton ranks No. 43 in the nation with 0.85 home runs per contest while, individually, three Titans rank among the Big West's leaders as sophomore Torrie Anderson and junior Francesca Gonzales rank tied for second in the league with nine apiece while senior Courtney Martinez is one of seven players tied for seventh with four.

BIG TIME IN THE BIG WEST: Cal State Fullerton's offense has feasted on Big West pitching thus far in 2009, batting .285 as a squad to stand atop the conference statistics and featuring four regulars batting .300 or better. Sophomore K.C. Craddick is batting .448 with three doubles and four RBI to pace the group and is followed by Francesca Gonzales (.368-5 HR-13 RBI), Lauren Lupinetti (.353-0-4), and Torrie Anderson (.325-2-11). The Titans have doubled-up conference competition in the scoring column (57-27) while the pitching staff has posted a 1.76 ERA and held opponents to a .219 average in 12 contests.

"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 four of the last five runners trying to steal against her and 10 of her last 22 (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.

EXTRA, EXTRA: The Titans have had at least one extra base hit in each of their last 23 games and in 34 of 39 games overall this season. During their 23-game streak, 56 of the team's 164 hits (34 percent) have gone for extra bases - including 21 home runs.

NEW GAME, DIFFERENT HERO: In Fullerton's 22 victories this season, the Titans have had nine different players account for the game-winning RBI while 11 different Fullerton baserunners have come around to score the game-winning run.

TURN TWO: Cal State Fullerton's defense has been quite handy at getting their pitchers out of jams, ranking second in the Big West Conference with 19 double plays turned this season. The Titans are also among the nation's best at "turning two," standing at No. 10 in the nation with 0.49 per game and tied for 15th with their 19 turned overall.

MARTINEZ BRUISES HER WAY TO THIRD: Senior Courtney Martinez was hit by a pitch for the 28th time in her career at UC Davis, moving her into sole possession of fourth on the school's all-time list, just one shy of Gina Oaks (2000-03) in third place. 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 nine HBPs this season (including three last weekend against UC Davis) and stands tied for third among Big West leaders entering this week's contests. Senior Courtney Martinez is tied for sixth with her six HBPs while senior Lauren Lupinetti is one of 12 players tied for 10 with her five this season.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?: Fullerton's pitching staff ranks third in the league in strikeouts looking with 66 on the season, trailing only Pacific (75) and Long Beach State (68). Cervantes ranks third in the league individually, as 39 of her 100 strikeout victims left with the bat on their shoulder, while Heinle is eighth in the Big West with 26 batters caught staring this season. Both hurlers also rank among the league's top 10 in strikeouts overall with Cervantes standing fifth entering the week and Heinle ninth with 72 overall.

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