April 30, 2009
FULLERTON, CA -
BATTER UP!: The Cal State Fullerton softball team (23-19, 11-4 in the Big West Conference for second place) looks to rebound this weekend after dropping two-of-three last week to fall out of first place in the conference standings. The Titans close out the home portion of their 2009 schedule with a three-game series against Cal State Northridge at Anderson Family Field beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday (May 2) at 12 p.m. and a single game on Sunday (May 3), also at 12 p.m.
GET THERE EARLY: Cal State Fullerton will be honoring its 2009 senior class in a pregame ceremony prior to Sunday's first pitch at approximately 11:45 a.m.
IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor Cal State Northridge 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 against Cal State Northridge. Links will be available on the softball schedule page of FullertonTitans.com.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? GOOD!: All three games of Cal State Fullerton's series with Cal State Northridge will be carried live over the Internet at www.FullertonTitans.com. Veteran Titan play-by-play man Mike Martinez will handle the call live from Anderson Family Field.
A LOOK AT THE MATADORS: Cal State Northridge enters the weekend with a 27-17 overall record and a 7-8 mark in Big West play to stand in fourth place - four games back of Fullerton in the standings entering the weekend... Jaclyn Rymer leads the Matadors' offense with a .336 average, 29 runs scored and 16 RBI... Christina Saenz is also having a fine year, batting .316 with 24 RBI... Debbie Duran (17-11, 2.40 ERA) has seen the majority of action for a Northridge staff that has used six different players in the circle this season... Hannah Fraijo (7-2, 2.39) and Amanda Pitzenberger (3-1, 3.35) have also seen significant time.
THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Cal State Northridge, 55-30-1, having won the last two after taking the series from the Matadors last season in Northridge... The Titans are 31-14 all-time against the Matadors at home, winning seven straight during a streak that included sweeps in 2005 and 2007, and 14 of 15 overall at home under Head Coach Michelle Gromacki, who is 23-4 against Northridge all-time.
ANOTHER MILESTONE REACHED: With the Titans' victory in the series finale against Long Beach State, head coach Michelle Gromacki became the fifth coach in Big West history to win at least 350 games overall and reach 150 conference victories. Gromacki, who won her 350th career game earlier this year on March 28 against Cal Poly, joins 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) on that list.
PITCHER'S PARK???: Historically, the Cal State Fullerton offense has struggled with the long ball on Long Beach State's home field, but that all changed this past weekend. After going homerless in the series opener that snapped the Titans' streak of home runs in a game at six and extended their homerless streak in Long Beach to 24 straight games, Fullerton's bats exploded for three home runs over the next two games to end its long ball futility at the 49er Softball Complex. Junior Francesca Gonzales was the first to lift off, as her solo home run in the second inning of game two gave the Titans the early lead. Senior Courtney Martinez followed with a two-run shot later in the game for a 3-2 Fullerton advantage, and senior Lauren Lupinetti's solo shot in the second inning of game three proved to be the game-winner in a 2-0 Titans' victory.
THESE CHICKS DIG THE LONG BALL: The Fullerton lineup continues to generate power this season as the Titans remain atop the Big West leaderboards with their 36 long balls entering this week's games - besting second place Cal Poly by eight home runs. As a team, Fullerton ranks No. 43 in the nation with 0.86 home runs per contest while, individually, three Titans rank among the Big West's leaders: junior Francesca Gonzales is second with 10 (one of only two players in the league in double digits, joining Cal Poly's Krysten Cary), sophomore Torrie Anderson is third with nine, and senior Courtney Martinez is in a three-way tie for eighth with five.
YOU'VE GOTTA EARN IT: Sophomore righthander Ari Cervantes has allowed only one earned run in her last 29 2/3 innings pitch, posting a 3-1 record and a 0.24 ERA in that stretch. She has won seven of her last eight starts during a stretch that includes four shutouts and is 8-2 with a 1.50 ERA in 12 appearances during Big West Conference play.
YOU'VE GOTTA EARN IT (PART II): Of the nine runs surrendered by the Titans last weekend at Long Beach State, only three were of the earned variety as the Fullerton staff posted a 1.07 ERA on the weekend. Going a little deeper, of the team's last 13 runs allowed over the last six games, only five have been earned.
PERFECT 10: Junior Francesca Gonzales slugged her 10th home run of the season last week against Long Beach State, becoming the first Titan to hit double digits in home runs since Jessica Doucette slugged 11 home runs in 2007. One more long ball by Gonzales would move her into a tie for ninth on the school's single-season list with Doucette and Chris Zboril (1996) while three more home runs this season would tie her with four other players for fifth place.
"COURT" IS BACK IN SESSION: Senior Courtney Martinez notched a pair of multi-hit games last week at Long Beach State, giving her hits in six of her last seven games - a streak that has her hitting .391 (9-for-23), with five extra base hits, five runs scored, and four RBI. The run has helped her raise her average better than 30 points to .313 on the season and ranking second on the team in that category.
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK: After getting her first hit in almost two years against Pacific two weeks ago, senior outfielder Whitney Kroh continued her comeback by logging two more hits this past weekend at Long Beach State. Kroh, who missed all of last season due to injury, had made only seven starts in 20 games this season before the series against the Tigers and has matched her entire hit total for all of 2007 with her three hits in her last six games this season.
IT'S BEEN A WHILE: Cal State Fullerton's doubleheader loss to Long Beach State to open last week's series marked the first back-to-back losses for the Titans since March 20-21 against San Diego State and the first Big West doubleheader loss since UC Davis swept the first two games from the Titans on April 12, 2008, in Fullerton. In fact, since the league began playing three-game series between conference opponents in 1999, Fullerton has lost a doubleheader only 12 times in 71 series, posting a 106-40 (.726) record in doubleheaders during that stretch.
WINNER: With its game three victory against Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton notched it's 11th conference win of the year, clinching a winning league record for the fifth straight season and the 28th time in the 30-year history of the program. The 11 league wins matches the total for all of last season (11-10) with six conference games remaining as Fullerton needs just three more conference wins for the most since the Titans won the league title with a 14-4 mark in 2006.
"EXTRA" EFFORT IN BIG WEST PLAY: The Titans' offense has gone the extra mile (or 60 feet if you will) since the start of Big West play, crushing a league-best 36 extra base hits - including a league-high 21 doubles and 14 home runs. Cal Poly is a distant second in that category with 24 hits for extra bases followed by UC Riverside (23) and UC Davis (22).
BETCHA CAN'T SCORE JUST ONE: Fullerton has made a habit of having big innings in 2009, scoring multiple runs in 31 of a possible 79 scoring innings - a 39 percent clip.
HIT ME: Cal State Fullerton has three of the hottest hitters in the league since the start of Big West play as sophomore K.C. Craddick (.378 - 2nd), senior Lauren Lupinetti (.366 - 3rd), and junior Francesca Gonzales (.348 - 10th) all rank among the top 10 in batting average in conference contests. The trio also ranks among the top 10 in slugging with the addition of a fourth in sophomore Torrie Anderson, who stands ninth with a .490 slugging percentage while batting .306 in conference games.
(TRIPLE) CROWN JEWEL: Junior Francesca Gonzales is on the verge of winning the team's triple crown as she leads the team with her .315 batting average and 10 home runs while standing just four RBI back of sophomore Torrie Anderson. Should Gonzales catch her teammate in that final category, she would become the first player to win the team's triple crown since Jenny Topping last accomplished the feat in 2003 (.438-10-36) and only the fifth in school history (Topping, Stephenie Little, Senetha Thomas, and Sue Lewis).
THERE IS NO DEFENSE FOR THAT: Of Cal State Fullerton's last seven victories, six have been thanks to home runs - including the last four straight. Of the Titans' 23 victories overall this season, 10 have come via the long ball - including six solo shots - and have been hit by five different players. Overall this season, Fullerton is 18-7 when they hit a home run.
"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 18-8 record over their last 26 games. In that stretch, Fullerton is hitting .262 as a team while holding an 102-73 scoring advantage and slugging 24 home runs. The pitching staff has also gotten stronger, posting a 1.87 ERA (including an 14-5 mark and a 1.62 ERA by Ari Cervantes) and holding opponents to a .224 batting average.
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 88 1/3 innings dating back to the final game of the series against then-No. 24 Cal Poly. That's a tremendous feat for a Titans staff that has allowed 21 home runs this season - a total that ranks as the fourth most in the Big West Conference this season. Of the 21 hit by opponents, only nine have come at Anderson Family Field while Fullerton has not allowed a home run in 10 road contests this season.
NEW GAME, DIFFERENT HERO: In Fullerton's 23 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 tied for second in the Big West Conference with 20 double plays turned this season. The Titans are also among the nation's best at "turning two," standing at No. 11 in the nation with 0.48 per game and tied for 18th with their 20 turned overall.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?: Fullerton's pitching staff ranks third in the league in strikeouts looking with 70 on the season, trailing only Pacific (79) and Long Beach State (71). Cervantes ranks third in the league individually, as 43 of her 106 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 75 overall.
"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 five of the last seven runners trying to steal against her and 11 of her last 24 (46 percent) overall. This coming after a slow start that saw her erase just one of the first 31 would-be base stealers this season.
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 sixth with 26 in her career.
SPEAKING OF ICE BAGS: Freshman Nicole Johnson leads the team with nine HBPs this season and stands fourth among Big West leaders entering this week's contests. Seniors Courtney Martinez and Lauren Lupinetti also rank among the top 10, entering the week in a nine-way tie for seventh with six bruises apiece.
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).
MERCY ME: Cal State Fullerton has thrice 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 four times in its last 274 games dating back to 2005.
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).
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.