Titans Battle First-Place Long Beach State

May 1, 2008

FULLERTON, CA - The biggest series of the Titans' 2008 regular season arrives this weekend as the Cal State Fullerton softball team (24-23-1 overall, 8-7 in the Big West Conference) hosts archrival and league-leading Long Beach State for a three-game series at Anderson Family Field. The Titans, winners of six of their last seven games, look to cut into the 49ers' four-game lead with six to play beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday (May 3) at 12 p.m. and a single game on Sunday (May 4), also at noon.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?: For those fans who are unable to attend this weekend's contests, all three games will be broadcast live over the Internet at FullertonTitans.com. Mike Martinez will handle the play-by-play duties.

CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?: Live video streaming will also be available for all three of this weekend's contests on a subscription basis. Please visit the conference's official website at BigWest.org/TV to sign up.

I NEED STATS, STAT: All three games of this weekend's series with Long Beach State will feature Gametracker livestats courtesy of CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV). Links will be available on Cal State Fullerton's official athletics website at FullertonTitans.com.

IN THE POLLS: Long Beach State enters the weekend ranked No. 17 in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll and stands at No. 15 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball coaches poll released on April 29... Cal State Fullerton is unranked.

SERIES RECORDS: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Long Beach State, 65-43... The Titans lost two-of-three to the 49ers last season at the 49ers Softball Complex and have lost eight of the last 12 meetings between the two squads dating back to 2004... Fullerton is just 29-24 against Long Beach at home compared to a 33-18 mark in Long Beach... The Titans won 2-of-3 from the 49ers in the two teams' last meeting at Anderson Family Field in 2006, posting run-rule wins by the scores of 9-1 and 16-0 in the first two games before falling 5-1 in the series finale.

VERSUS RANKED TEAMS: Cal State Fullerton has played 14 games against Top 25 competition this season - the most of any school in the Big West Conference... The Titans, however, are just 3-10-1 this season against those ranked foes... all three of the Titans' wins have come against top 10 teams: \#5 Oklahoma, \#2 UCLA, and \#7 Arizona... four of the losses have been by fewer than two runs... the team is batting just .199 offensively while opponents are hitting at a .273 clip... Kiki Munoz leads the team with a .270 average against ranked teams... Torrie Anderson paces the squad with six RBI while Lauren Lupinetti has slugged a pair of home runs... Christine Hiner has started eight games in the circle, posting a 2-5 record with a 1.77 ERA, holding opponents to a .255 average.

A LOOK AT THE 49ERS: Long Beach State enters the weekend with a 36-12 overall record and a 12-3 mark in Big West play... The 49ers are coming off a series sweep of UC Riverside last weekend, winning a pair of one-run contests (2-1 and 4-3) in the first two games before posting a five-inning 8-0 shutout in the finale... Jennifer Griffin leads the team in hitting at .333 with three home runs and 20 RBI while Jessica Beaver paces the team with six home runs and 39 RBI to go with a .286 average... Freshman Brooke Turner is having one of the best seasons by a pitcher in the history of the conference, posting a 23-4 overall record and a 0.67 ERA to go with 204 strikeouts in 188 innings... Bridgette Pagano has proved to be a solid No. 2 pitcher since Turner's arrival, posting a 13-8 record with a 2.47 ERA after earning league freshman pitcher of the year honors last season.

MUNOZ EARNS BIG WEST WEEKLY HONOR: Cal State Fullerton senior Kiki Munoz was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week on Monday morning (April 28) after helping lead her team to a crucial series win at Cal State Northridge. It is the first career weekly honor for the senior, who became the third Titan this season to be honored as the league's player of the week, joining Jenna Wheeler (Feb. 11) and Sheila Holguin (March 24). Munoz hit a robust .556 for the week with a pair of home runs, three RBI, and three runs scored as Fullerton took two-of-three from Cal State Northridge to remain within striking distance of league-leading Long Beach State entering this weekend's three-game series between the two teams.

SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE: Fullerton's streaking offense will face its stiffest test of the conference season this weekend as the Big West's best pitching staff comes calling. The Titans' are hitting .307 (59-for-192) and averaging five runs per game over the last seven games (6-1 record) while the 49ers lead the league with a 1.58 team ERA and 16 shutouts, holding opponents to a .208 average. In Big West play this season, Fullerton is hitting a league-best .281 and 65 runs scored while Long Beach State sports a 1.48 ERA and a .192 average against.

BET YA CAN'T HIT JUST ONE: Kiki Munoz notched her 19th and 20th multiple-hit games of the year against Cal State Northridge over the weekend, increasing her league-leading total in the Big West Conference this season to four over UC Riverside's Marissa Alvidrez and Pacific's Casey Goldsand. The 20 multi-hit games are the most by a Titan this season and the most for a Fullerton player since Julie Watson accumulated 26 multi-hit games in her 2004 All-America season. Munoz has multiple hits in five of her last seven contests, hitting .591 (13-for-22) in that stretch to go with seven runs scored, eight RBI and six extra base hits - including four home runs.

HINER WINS THIRD STRAIGHT: Cal State Fullerton freshman righthander Christine Hiner posted her third win in as many appearances, allowing just two earned runs in 15 2/3 innings of work (0.89 ERA) and striking out 14 batters to just three walks. Hiner is holding opponents to a .258 average (16-for-62) in that stretch, allowing just one extra base hit.

"SPEAK SOFTLY AND CARRY A BIG STICK": As one of the big hitters in the Big West in 2008, Kiki Munoz is stating her case for top league honors with her bat. The senior ranks among the top five in seven different categories: batting average (2nd), slugging percentage (3rd), on base percentage (3rd), hits (2nd), doubles (2nd), home runs (t4th), and total bases (3rd). Munoz also ranks just outside the top 10 in RBI (two short of 10th) and walks (two short of 10th) while her four intentional passes has her as one of only three players in the league who have been walked intentionally more than once this season (Northridge's Amanda Peek leads the league with eight while Long Beach State's Jennifer Griffin is second with seven).

BREAKING EVEN: Cal State Fullerton's victory over Cal State Northridge on Sunday put the Titans' overall record at 24-23-1 in 2008, moving them over the .500 mark for the first time since March 22.

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING: The Titans' offense slugged out 12 hits in their series finale victory over Cal State Northridge - the 10th time Fullerton has reached double digits in the hit column this season. In fact, the 12 knocks were the most for the Titans since they had 12 hits in a 10-1 run-rule win over Rutgers on March 8 at the Long Beach Invitational.

MORE ON THE HIT PARADE: The Titans have amassed seven hits or more in seven of their last eight contests, averaging 8.38 hits per game in those contests.

PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER: Titan hitters have been more and more patient at the plate in the last month, averaging 2.64 walks per game while drawing a walk in each of their last 11 games (the second longest streak this season to an earlier 14-game stretch from Feb. 15 to March 2). However, Fullerton has been more prone to put the ball in play this season, accumulating only 100 free passes this season - the second fewest (UC Santa Barbara has drawn 95 walks) in the Big West.

"DOUCE" DEALING: After recovering from an injury that forced her to miss four games, senior righthander Jessica Doucette has regained her form, posting a 3-1 record with a save in her last seven appearances with a pair of shutouts and a 1.85 ERA. In just over 30 innings, Doucette has struck out 29 batters to only eight walks and has held the opposition to a .243 average. Currently standing at 12-11 this season in the circle, Doucette needs just one more win to match her collegiate best of 13 pitching victories set as a sophomore in 2006 at the University of Georgia when she finished 13-4 in 19 starts for the Bulldogs en route to third-team All-America honors from the NFCA.

BRUISING WEEKEND: Cal State Fullerton was hit by a pitch six times in its three-game series against Cal State Northridge last weekend - the most plunks in a conference series for the Titans in 2008. Fullerton, which ranks a close fourth in the league in the category with 37 (UCSB and UC Davis lead with 40 HBP's) entering the weekend, lists three individuals among the conference's most hit batters: Crystal Vieyra (t4th, 9), Courtney Martinez (t6th, 8), and Katie Gollhardt (t9th, 6).

IRON WOMAN: Senior Katie Gollhardt continues to chug along in the Fullerton starting lineup as this weekend's three-game series extended her streak to 221 consecutive starts (read: every game) since first donning a Titans jersey in 2005.

WATCH OUT TED WILLIAMS: Senior Kiki Munoz continues to lead the team with a .431 average and is part of a very exclusive club in the Big West Conference this season as one of only three remaining players hitting better than .400 this season. If the season ended today, Munoz's average would rank third on the school's single-season chart and eighth on the league's single-season list.

ON YOUR MARKS...: Cal State Fullerton has been quick out of the gates in the runs column this season, outscoring the opposition, 45-17, in the first two innings thus far in 2008. The Titans are 21-7 when scoring first and 11-3 when putting up a run in the first inning.

IN THE KIKI, KIKI, KIKI, KIKI, KIKI ROOM: Munoz is also making her mark nationally, standing among the NCAA's top 100 players in four different categories. The senior enters the weekend ranked No. 19 in the nation in average, No. 44 in doubles per game (0.30), No. 38 in on base percentage (.494), No. 78 in slugging percentage (.679), and is among the top 100 toughest players to strikeout in the nation, standing No. 72 in the nation by striking out once every 15.2 at bats (nine times in 137 at bats overall this year).

LEADING OFF FOR THE TITANS...: Since Head Coach Michelle Gromacki juggled the Titans' lineup around to try and jumpstart the offense, senior Katie Gollhardt has excelled in the leadoff spot over the course of the past three weeks, batting .552 with seven runs scored, four doubles, and seven RBI in eight games to help the Titans to a 6-2 record in that span. Since moving into the top spot, Gollhardt has raised her average 54 points from .254 to .308 this season.

DOUBLES TROUBLE: As the season heads into the home stretch, the Titans are moving ever closer to the school record of 99 doubles set in 1999. Smacking two doubles this past week brought Fullerton to 70 two-baggers on the season which leads the Big West Conference by 15 over second-place Long Beach State. The Titans also rank No. 24 in the nation with 1.46 doubles per game entering this weekend's contests. The 70 doubles this season are the most since Fullerton knocked 72 two-baggers in 2006 and ranks 10th on the school's single season list.

WEAR IT!: Already the school record-holder for being hit by a pitch, senior Crystal Vieyra continues to set her sights on the NCAA mark as it seems opposing pitchers have their sights trained in on her. Vieyra has been hit by a pitch 52 times for her career - just two shy of matching Purdue's Tricia Lilley and Centenary's Michelle Reeve for second place all-time in NCAA history. Vieyra needs just 10 more to tie her with Liberty's Cheryl Wyrick, who set the all-time Division I record with 62 HBP's in 2001.

HINER REACHES DOUBLE FIGURES: Freshman right-hander Christine Hiner moved her record to 12-11 overall on the weekend in Northridge, posting the most victories for a Fullerton freshman pitcher since Brooke Weekley finished with 14 victories during her rookie season in 2004. The school record for rookies was set in 1983 by Broderick Award Winner Susan LeFebvre and matched in 1988 by Anjie Bryant with 26 wins.

PITCHER'S BEST FRIEND: "Let's Turn Two" has been the motto for the Titans in the field this season as Cal State Fullerton's defense has turned 18 double plays in 2008 - a total that has the Titans atop the Big West Conference entering this week's games and ranking tied for No. 22 in the nation. The Titans' 0.38 double plays per game also has them ranked No. 24 in the NCAA thus far.

STILL STINGY WITH THE HITS: Fullerton's pitching staff continues to be stingy in the circle, holding the opposition to a .237 average this season to rank second in the Big West Conference. Senior Jessica Doucette (.209) ranks second among the league's hurlers in the category while freshman Christine Hiner ranks sixth in the league with a .241 average against.

S.O.S.: As in "Save Our Scorers." Cal State Fullerton has struggled to find that clutch hit in 2008, stranding 310 batters on base through 48 games - 185 of those (60 percent) in scoring position. The Titans, who are hitting just .252 with runners in scoring position this season, have left runners in scoring position in all but one game.

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