Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | 4:00 PM (ESPNU)
Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 4/6:30 PM (DH) (ESPN3)
Fullerton, Calif. • Anderson Family Field
FULLERTON, Calif. - The Cal State Fullerton softball team continues its home stand hosting a Big West three-game series against Long Beach State this week. The teams will meet in a single game on Wednesday, Apr. 16 at 4 p.m. (ESPNU) and will conclude the series with a doubleheader on Thursday, Apr. 17 at 4 and 6:30 p.m. (ESPN3) at Anderson Family Field in Fullerton, Calif.
GIRL SCOUTS - OPERATION GRATITUDE: Cal State Fullerton is teaming up with the Girl Scouts of America on Wednesday, Apr. 16. The scouts will be collecting toiletries and stuffed animals to donate to Operation Gratitude to be sent overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan. There will also be a table setup for fans to write "Thank You" cards to the men and women serving in that region.
BE A FOLLOWER: Fans can keep up with the latest in Titan athletics by following us on Facebook (CSUF Athletics), Twitter(@FullertonTitans) and Youtube (www.youtube.com/CSFAthletics). Also follow the softball Twitter (@CSUFsoftball).
I NEED STATS, STAT!: Live stats will be provided for all games this week. To access live stats for the games, go to www.FullertonTitans.com and go to the softball schedule page then click live stats.
AT THE BREAK WITH HEAD COACH KELLY FORD: FullertonTitans.com sat down with Titans softball Head Coach Kelly Ford to look back on the first 38 games into the season and aspirations on upcoming Big West play heading into a possible postseason run.
ARE YOU LISTENING? WATCH ME NOW!: Cal State Fullerton home softball contests will be broadcast live over the Internet at FullertonTitans.com. The Titans also offer live streaming video for home softball contests over the Internet courtesy of the Big West TV. Fans can catch all the exclusive action from the comfort of their home computers. To access the links, click on the audio or live video link on the schedule page. This week's LBSU series will be covered on ESPNU/ESPN3.
IN THE POLLS: In the ESPN.com/USA Softball Coaches and USA Today/NFCA Coaches polls, neither the Titans or 49ers are currently ranked.
SIZING UP IN THE RPI: The Titans currently rank 55th in the nation in Rating Percentage Index (RPI). RPI measures a team's wins and losses and its strength of schedule. Fullerton has played against three teams currently ranked in the top-10 and against eight teams in the top-25.
TITANS VERSUS RANKED TEAMS*
|FEB. 7||No. 2 Oklahoma||Fullerton, Calif.||W, 3-1|
|FEB. 15||No. 23 California||San Diego, Calif.||L, 4-5|
|FEB. 21||No. 15 Baylor||Palm Springs, Calif.||W, 6-1|
|FEB. 21||No. 23 LSU||Palm Springs, Calif.||L, 1-8|
|FEB. 22||No. 24 Notre Dame||Palm Springs, Calif.||L, 0-8|
|FEB. 25||No. 2 Tennessee||Fullerton, Calif.||L, 4-8|
|MAR. 8||No. 14 Nebraska||Fullerton, Calif.||L, 2-9|
|MAR. 8||No. 7 Arizona||Fullerton, Calif.||L, 0-15|
|APR. 10||No. 2 UCLA||Fullerton, Calif.||L, 2-5|
*Ranking when game occurred
ABOUT LONG BEACH STATE: The 49ers 9-0 start in conference play is the best start in program history, overtaking the previous best of 7-0 in 2000, when Pete Manarino's 49ers started Big West play with a 7-0 record. Long Beach State is on a season-long 11-game winning streak in all, boasting an overall record of 32-9. Between the Titans and the 49ers, the two teams have combined to capture 15 of 29 contested Big West titles; with Cal State Fullerton winning 8 and Long Beach State capturing 7. Those numbers are by far the most among current members, with three other schools each winning two titles.
IN THE CIRCLE WITH LONG BEACH STATE: Senior Erin Jones-Wesley leads the pitching staff, starting 23 games in 25 appearances while tossing 128 innings over that span. The right-hander has chalked up 12 complete games on the season while producing 141 strikeouts. Posting an ERA of (2.52), the native from Alta Loma, Calif., commands an 18-4 record heading into the weekend. Junior Amanda Hansen has chipped in another 18 starts for the 49ers, posting a (2.91) ERA over 108 and 1/3 innings. The right-hander has surrendered a total of 115 hits and 45 earned runs on the season, yielding an opposing batting avg. of (.266).
AT THE PLATE WITH LONG BEACH STATE: Junior Ashley Holmes heads the offensive attack for the 49ers, posting a (.387) batting avg. while chipping in 35 hits and seven home runs. The native from Whittier, Calif., has drove in 26 RBIs, scored 20 runs and manufactured three doubles. Cya Neal challenges opposing catchers with her speed, swiping 10 bags on 11 attempts on the year. Neal also leads the team in triples (3), hits (52), plate appearances (137) to go along with a batting avg. of (.380). The senior has started 39 games for LBSU including all nine contests in conference play.
WELCOME TO THE BIG WEST: University of Washington transfer Missy Taukeiaho has showcased her offensive prowess in her new conference. The two-time Big West Field Player of the Week (announced Feb. 10 and Mar. 31) leads the league in slugging pct. (.786), on base pct. (.519), runs scored (42), home runs (13), total bases (103), and walks (26). In nine Big West contests, the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native has torched opposing pitching with a (.516) batting avg., five doubles, two round-trippers, 10 RBIs, and 27 total bases with a slugging pct. of (.871) and an on base pct. of (.583).
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL: Fullerton has played exceptional in the field marking a (.965) fielding percentage, good for third-best in the Big West. The Titans post the third-lowest errors total with 43 on the season, 13 less than the league leader Cal State Northridge with 56. Out of the nine individuals in all of the Big West who own a (1.000) fielding percentage, four wear a Titans uniform, Eliza Crawford, Leesa Harris, Lauren Mario and Jena Rubio.
THE BAT BEHIND THE MASK: Senior catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama has been an iron woman for the Titans, starting in 41 out of 42 games this year. Being one of four starters with a batting avg. of over (.300), the La Habra, Calif., native has posted a (.331) clip, to go along with a (.990) fielding percentage. Tsuchiyama is also on a team-high nine-game hitting streak.
THE BEST BALL IS THE LONG BALL: In 2014, Cal State Fullerton and Hawai'i share the league lead in home runs with 44 for on the season, respectively. Leading the way for the Titans is Taukeiaho with 13 round-trippers, followed by Crawford with nine long balls. Fullerton and Hawai'i lead Long Beach State (35) for overall home run totals.
WEARING IT IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE: Eliza Crawford has been plunked a league-high 11 times this season. In 36 starts, the junior has used that free base to compile an on base percentage of (.427) to go along with 16 runs scored and 58 total bases.
THE .300 CLUB: The Titans are second in the Big West in batting avg., with a team clip of (.298). Four Fullerton starters post averages above the (.300) mark: Taukeiaho (.412), Harris (.354), Tsuchiyama (.331) and Gabby Aragon (.311).
GOOD EYE, GOOD EYE: Cal State Fullerton leads the Big West in drawing base on balls with 125 as a team, 5 more than the nearest competitor Long Beach State with 120. Four Titans have eclipsed 15 walks or more, Taukeiaho with 26, Crawford with 17, Tsuchiyama registering 16 and Gabby Aragon has drawn 12 free passes.
DRIVING WITH THE CLUTCH IN: Five different Titans have drove in a game-winning RBI multiple times to create a lead that was never surrendered by Fullerton. Taukeiaho and Aragon lead the team with seven game-winning RBI hits apiece, respectively. The pair is followed by Eliza Crawford (3), Samantha Galarza (2), Melissa Sechrest (2), Amongst the 24 hits in total, 10 of those are via the long ball.
NO 2-FOR-1 SPECIAL HERE: The Titans have used their base running abilities to stay away from grounding into double plays this season. Remarkably, Fullerton is the only team in the Big West that is yet to ground into a two-outer, with UC Davis leading the league with (9) and Hawai'i following closely behind with (8) gdp's on the season.
BIG WEST OUTLOOK: The Titans were picked to finish third in the Big West Conference in 2014 as selected by the eight head coaches in the annual preseason poll. Defending conference champion Hawai'i, collected four first place votes and 59 points overall and are favored to repeat after making a big splash in 2013 by capturing the crown in their return to the Big West after a 16 season hiatus. Runner-up in the polls was Long Beach State who garnered three first place votes and 55 overall. UC Santa Barbara was fourth in the polls with 40 points, while UC Davis rounded out the top five at 30 points:
1. Hawai'i (4), 59
2. Long Beach State (3), 55
3. Cal State Fullerton (1), 46
4. UC Santa Barbara, 40
5. UC Davis, 30
6. Cal Poly, 25
7. Cal State Northridge, 24
8. UC Riverside, 9
TITANS REWIND: Fullerton finished third in the Big West race a season ago with a 13-11 mark in conference play to go along with a 28-28 overall record. The Titans return six position starters and three pitchers while welcoming 18 newcomers to the fold for the 2014 season. Leading the way for returners is senior catcher Tsuchiyama, an all-conference first-team selection who hit .323 to go along with 50 hits and 25 runs batted in. In the circle, sophomore Antunez returns after earning the Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors a season ago, finishing 18-14 with a 2.58 ERA, 174 strikeouts and even a no-hitter on her resume vs. UNLV.
NEWCOMERS: Although the 2014 Titans return dynamic seniors Jena Rubio, Leesa Harris, Gabby Aragon, Lauren Mario and Ariel Tsuchiyama, there are plenty of young talent on this seasons roster. Coach Kelly Ford's team consists of eight freshmen, six of which are position players and the remaining two on the pitching staff. Freshman Christina Washington is looking to have a promising season pitching in the circle, alongside now sophomore Jasmine Antunez who had similar expectations one year ago. Three Titans have transferred to the 2014 team, one being to watch is University of Washington transfer Taukeiaho. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. native is looking to make an immediate impact to the offensive potency of the 2014 Titans.