Titans Host Gauchos With Postseason Hopes on the Line

May 8, 2008

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FULLERTON, CA - The race for a coveted postseason berth heads into the final weekend as the Cal State Fullerton softball team (26-24-1 overall, 10-8 in the Big West Conference) hosts its final league series of the season at Anderson Family Field. The Titans, winners of eight of their last 10 games - including a series win over No. 17 Long Beach State last weekend, host second-place UC Santa Barbara beginning on Friday afternoon (May 9) with a doubleheader at 4 p.m. before Saturday's single-game finale at 12 p.m.

Fullerton's five seniors: Jessica Doucette, Katie Gollhardt, Kiki Munoz, Crystal Vieyra, and Jenna Wheeler will be feted prior to Saturday's first pitch as part of the Titans' "Senior Day" festivities at approximately 11:45 p.m.

I NEED STATS, STAT: Gametracker live stats will be available for all three games of the weekend series. Links will be available at www.FullertonTitans.com.

I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW: Live streaming Internet video courtesy of Big West TV will be available on a subscription basis for the first two games of the series on Saturday from San Luis Obispo. For more information, please visit www.BigWest.org/TV.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?: Live streaming audio will also be available for the entire three-game series as Mike Martinez will handle the play-by-play for the final home games of the regular season. Links will be available at FullertonTitans.com.

IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor UC Santa Barbara are ranked nationally entering the final weekend of the year.

SERIES RECORDS: Cal State Fullerton holds a commanding lead in the all-time series with UC Santa Barbara, winning 93 of the 100 meetings since 1980... the Titans have won five straight in the series, including a series sweep in Santa Barbara in 2007... Fullerton is 43-2 all-time against the Gauchos at home... The Titans took two-of-three from UCSB in the last meeting in Orange County in 2006... Since joining the Big West Conference in 1986, Fullerton has won 21 of the 22 series' with UC Santa Barbara - the lone exception coming in 2004 when the Gauchos took two of three from the Titans in Santa Barbara.

SCOUTING THE GAUCHOS: UC Santa Barbara enters the weekend with a 28-23 overall record and an 11-7 mark in Big West Conference play - two games behind league-leading Long Beach State and a game ahead of third-place Cal State Fullerton... The Gauchos have won three of their last four and are coming off a series win over Pacific, winning the first two games by the scores of 7-4 and 3-1 before falling in the finale, 8-6... Conference Player of the Year candidate Tisha Duran leads the team offensively, batting .367 with 12 doubles, 13 home runs and 52 RBI... Four Gauchos are hitting better than .300 on the season helping UCSB to a league-best .284 average as a team... A trio of hurlers have seen significant time in the circle for the Gauchos: Tami Weston (10-6, 3.25 ERA), Lindsey Correa (10-7, 3.74 ERA), and MeLinda Matsumoto (8-10, 3.92 ERA).

DOUCETTE EARNS BIG WEST WEEKLY LAURELS: Cal State Fullerton senior righthander Jessica Doucette was named the Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week on Monday afternoon (May 5) following a pair of strong efforts in the circle to help the Titans keep their postseason hopes alive. It is the first weekly pitching honor from the conference of her career as she becomes only the second upperclassman (UC Riverside's Christin Songer being the other) to win pitcher of the week laurels this season. Doucette was 1-1 on the weekend, losing a heartbreaker in eight innings in the series opener before bouncing back to twirl a three-hit complete-game shutout in the series finale. For the weekend, Doucette held the 49ers' bats to a .182 average (including just one extra-base hit) and posted a 0.93 ERA in two starts while striking out 10.

CHAMPIONSHIP SCENARIOS: With its series win over league-leading Long Beach State last weekend, Cal State Fullerton kept alive its slim chances for its ninth Big West Conference championship, but the Titans will need some help. Trailing the 49ers by three games entering the final week of play, Fullerton needs to sweep its final series against UC Santa Barbara while also hoping for a Pacific sweep of Long Beach State as the Titans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the 49ers should the two end up tied for the top spot. Another scenario could have Cal Poly claiming its second consecutive league title with a sweep of UC Riverside, a Pacific sweep of Long Beach State, and a Fullerton sweep of UC Santa Barbara, putting all three teams at 13-8 in league play. All three teams would be declared co-champions, but the Mustangs would earn the league's automatic berth by virtue of its 4-2 record against the Titans (2-4) and 49ers (3-3).

VIEYRA INCHES CLOSER TO NCAA RECORD: After being hit by a pitch three times this past weekend against No. 17 Long Beach State, senior Crystal Vieyra moved into sole possession of second place on the NCAA's all-time list with 55 for her career. She now stands just seven HBP's shy of the all-time Division I record of 62 held by Cheryl Wyrick of Liberty University, who set the mark in 2001 after only two seasons with the Flames.

NOT TO BE OUTBRUISED: Senior Katie Gollhardt was also plunked by a pitch three times last weekend against Long Beach State, giving her 23 for her career and moving her into fifth place on the school's all-time list. Courtney Martinez was also hit by a pitch to give her nine for the season and 20 for her career - moving her into a tie for sixth place on the school's all-time list with teammate Lauren Lupinetti.

YET ANOTHER BRUISING WEEKEND: Cal State Fullerton batters were hit seven times in its three-game series against No. 17 Long Beach State - the most plunks in a conference series for the Titans in 2008. Fullerton, which ranks a close second in the league in the category with 44 (UC Davis leads the league with 45 HBP's) entering the weekend, lists three individuals among the conference's most hit batters: Crystal Vieyra (3rd, 12), Courtney Martinez (t6th, 9), and Katie Gollhardt (t6th, 9).

ONE FOR THE TEAM: The Titans have had a batter hit by a pitch at least once in each of the last five games, including a season-high four times in the opener against Long Beach State, and is averaging 2.6 hit batters per contest in that span.

SENIOR DAY SUCCESS: Cal State Fullerton has sent the seniors out in style under the direction of Head Coach Michelle Gromacki, winning eight straight "Senior Day" games dating back to the 2000 season. The Titans are 22-6 all-time in "Senior Day" games in the past 28 seasons - including a 3-0 mark against this weekend's opponent after closing out the 1984, 1994, and 2003 seasons against the Gauchos at home.

BREAK OUT YOUR SUNDAY BEST: Doucette has been absolutely stellar on Sunday's this season in Big West Conference play, posting a 3-1 record in five starts with a 1.43 ERA and four complete games while posting her second consecutive Sunday shutout last weekend against No. 17 Long Beach State. In 29 1/3 innings on Sunday's, she has surrendered just eight runs (six earned) on 23 hits, walking seven and striking out 24. She has also put the opposition's bats to rest as opposing hitters are batting just .215 against her on those days.

LAST 10 MUCH BETTER THAN PREVIOUS 10: After struggling through a streak that saw the Titans lose eight of 10 games, Cal State Fullerton has turned its season around, winning eight of its last 10 games. In the last 10 games, the Titans are hitting 30 points better (.282) and have outscored the opposition 42-18 as compared to their "slump" that saw Fullerton hit just .253 and score only 34 runs in 10 games. The pitching staff has also done its part, dropping its ERA from 2.95 to 1.34 while holding the opposition's offense to a .228 average.

HINER'S STREAK MOVES TO FOUR: Freshman Christine Hiner extended her winning streak in the circle to four games after holding No. 17 Long Beach State to just one run on five hits in a complete-game win in game two of the series. In just under 23 innings of work, Hiner has allowed just four runs (three earned) on 21 hits, walking three and striking out 14 in three starts and one relief appearance. Her 0.93 ERA in that span has dropped her overall average from 2.48 to 2.25 and she is holding opponents to a .239 batting average in that span. It was her third win over a ranked team this season as Hiner improved to 3-5 in those games with a 1.68 ERA.

TITANS CLINCH WINNING HOME MARK: With its two victories over Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton clinched a winning record at home for the fourth consecutive season and the eighth time in nine seasons under Head Coach Michelle Gromacki. The Titans have produced winning home records in 27 of the program's 29 seasons dating back to 1980.

THAT'S THE WAY (UH HUH, UH HUH) SHE LIKES IT: ...uh huh, uh huh. Sorry, got carried away for a second. Freshman K.C. Craddick had the biggest offensive weekend of her young career in the biggest weekend series thus far for the Titans in 2008 against No. 17 Long Beach State, batting .714 (5-for-7) in the three-game series to help the Titans to a series victory over the 49ers. In the series opener, Craddick finished 3-for-3 with a sacrifice and an RBI single in the eighth inning as Fullerton tried to erase a two-run deficit. It was the first three-hit game of her career as the Titans lost a heartbreaker, 3-2. In game two, she finished 0-for-2 at the plate, but drew a crucial walk that accounted for the game-winning run on Torrie Anderson's walk-off single. In the series finale, Craddick finished 2-for-2 at the plate with a walk and she scored the game-winning run on Courtney Martinez's RBI single in the Titans' 3-0 victory. In the process, Craddick upped her average almost 60 points to .267 for the weekend and has posted hits in four of the team's last five games, batting .615 (8-for-13) in that stretch.

EXTRA INNINGS WOES CONTINUE: With an eight inning defeat in the series opener against Long Beach State, the Titans have now lost their last four extra-inning contests by a combined score of 11-7 dating back to a 1-0, eight inning win at then \#2 UCLA. Fullerton is 1-5 overall this season in extra innings and 9-9 in games decided by a single run with the run totals between the Titans and their opponents even at 40-40 in those 18 contests.

VERSUS RANKED TEAMS: Cal State Fullerton has played 17 games against Top 25 competition this season - the most of any school in the Big West Conference... The Titans, however, are just 5-11-1 this season against those ranked foes... three of the Titans' wins have come against top 10 teams: \#5 Oklahoma, \#2 UCLA, and \#7 Arizona while five of the losses have been by fewer than two runs.

SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE, REDUX: The Cal State Fullerton pitching staff will be in the spotlight this weekend as the top offense in the Big West Conference comes to town with possible postseason berths and conference title implications hanging in the balance. UC Santa Barbara sports a league-best .284 batting average and has slugged a conference-high 35 home runs on the year while averaging five runs per game over its last three conference series. Meanwhile, the Titans' pitching staff has held opponents to just seven runs in its last five games as Jessica Doucette (0.88 ERA, .209 average against) and Christine Hiner (1.75 ERA, .200 average against) have combined to hold opposing bats silent to the tune of a .206 average.

"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 six different categories: batting average (2nd), slugging percentage (3rd), on base percentage (3rd), hits (2nd), doubles (2nd), and total bases (4th). Munoz also ranks tied for sixth in home runs and stands just outside the top 10 in RBI (three shy of 10th) and walks (two shy of 10th) while her five intentional passes has her as one of only five players in the league who have been walked intentionally more than once this season (Northridge's Amanda Peek leads the league with nine while Long Beach State's Jennifer Griffin is second with seven).

IN THE KIKI, KIKI, KIKI, KIKI, KIKI ROOM: Munoz is also making her mark nationally, standing among the NCAA's top 100 players in five different categories. The senior enters the weekend ranked No. 24 in the nation in average, No. 51 in doubles per game (0.29), No. 38 in on base percentage (.488), No. 81 in slugging percentage (.655), and is among the top 100 toughest players to strikeout in the nation, standing No. 49 in the nation by striking out once every 16.1 at bats (nine times in 145 at bats overall this year).

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 four doubles this past week brought Fullerton to 74 two-baggers on the season which leads the Big West Conference by 17 over second-place Long Beach State. The Titans also rank No. 27 in the nation with 1.45 doubles per game entering this weekend's contests. The 74 doubles this season are the most since Fullerton knocked 74 two-baggers in 2001 and ranks tied for seventh on the school's single season list.

PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER: Titan hitters have been more and more patient at the plate in the last month, averaging 2.43 walks per game while drawing a walk in each of their last 14 games (tied for the longest streak this season with a 14-game stretch from Feb. 15-Mar. 2). However, Fullerton has been more prone to put the ball in play this season, accumulating only 105 free passes this season - the second fewest (UC Santa Barbara has drawn 104 walks) in the Big West.

"DOUCE"S WILD: After recovering from an injury that forced her to miss four games, senior righthander Jessica Doucette has come up aces over her last nine appearances, posting four wins (three via shutout), a save, and a 1.54 ERA. In just over 45 innings, Doucette has struck out 39 batters to only 11 walks and has held the opposition to a .223 average. Currently standing at 13-12 this season in the circle, Doucette matched her collegiate best of 13 pitching victories on Sunday against Long Beach State, tying the mark 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.

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 224 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 .421 average and is part of a very exclusive club in the Big West Conference this season as one of only two remaining players hitting better than .400 this season. If the season ended today, Munoz would be only the ninth Titan to hit better than .400 in a season (ranking fifth on the school's single-season chart) and 11th 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, 48-18, in the first two innings thus far in 2008. The Titans are 22-8 when scoring first and 11-3 when putting up a run in the first inning.

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 19 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. 25 in the nation. The Titans' 0.37 double plays per game also has them ranked tied No. 19 in the NCAA thus far.

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 month, batting .459 with eight runs scored, four doubles, and eight RBI in 11 games to help the Titans to a 8-3 record in that span. Since moving into the top spot, Gollhardt has raised her average 45 points from .254 to .299 this season.

STILL STINGY WITH THE HITS: Fullerton's pitching staff continues to be stingy in the circle, holding the opposition to a .234 average this season to rank second in the Big West Conference. Senior Jessica Doucette (.206) ranks second among the league's hurlers in the category while freshman Christine Hiner ranks fifth in the league with a .239 average against.

S.O.S.: As in "Save Our Scorers." Cal State Fullerton has struggled to find that clutch hit in 2008, stranding 332 batters on base through 51 games (6.51 per game) - 199 of those (60 percent) in scoring position. The Titans, who are hitting just .250 with runners in scoring position, have left runners in scoring position in all but one game, this season.

BET YA CAN'T HIT JUST ONE: Kiki Munoz leads the Big West Conference with 20 multiple-hit games on the season - 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 10 contests, hitting .500 (15-for-30) in that stretch to go with seven runs scored, five walks, eight RBI, and six extra base hits - including four home runs.

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