Titans snag another player from midwest

In Sports

Stephenie Little is the newest midwest transfer and she will likely provide a big lift for the Cal State Fullerton attack.

Little, a catcher and first baseman was a freshman All-American at OSU, and spent last year at Mt. San Antonio College earning her Associates Degree.

She should help Dara Marzolo at the catching position and provide some depth there, one area that Garman said hurt the Titans during last season.

"She is a big power hitter who can catch and play first base," Garman said. "Dara is having some arm problems and she is limited. But Stephanie is a little rusty too. We just got her in January."

Along with Marzolo and Little, Rocky Medina will catch an improved pitching staff. Last year, the Titans relied on just two pitchers, and often, the two starters were forced into relief for each other. This year, Garman said she has four solid pitchers to rely on.

The ace this year may be the second OSU transfer, Jana Oetgen.

"She just got stronger and stronger as the year developed," Garman said of Oetgen. "We are looking for her to be a key leader. She also will help us at the bat."

Oetgen will be joined by last year's other starter, Donna Coombes, and freshmen Kati Franck and Chrissy Hartman.

"Katie throws hard, and as long as she can keep the ball down, she will be effective. Christy has more movement and doesn't throw as hard. She has a great curve and she will keep people off balance."

Although nothing was lost at the pitching and catching positions, the infield suffered some losses. Two regular starters, Bevan Trueblood and Julie Williams left the program.

However, the Titans still have last year's second base star, Nikki Hart.

"Nikki is a lot more intense this year in practice," Garman said. "She will lead us because of that intensity."

At first base, Stacy Pierson, a transfer from Cyprus College should start and at third, utility player, and the final OSU transfer, Kristy Osborne should start.

Perhaps the biggest help of all in the infield will come from freshman Krista Sandon who will step in at shortstop for the departed Williams.

"She was a real recruiting coup for us," Garman said. "She was the second baseman on the junior world team that won the gold medal for the US. She knows how to win. She's a real plus for the program. She may be the best shortstop in the nation."

In the outfield, three returners should supply a solid veteran lineup. Wendi Griffin will start in left field, Rachel Olvera will play in center and Jessica Maloney in right.

Griffin added some experience to her play when she won the National Championship on her summer A-Softball team and was named the MVP of the tournament.

"She's just getting stronger," Garman said. "She can do some things offensively for us and the summer should be the final step for her confidence."

Offensively, Garman said she is excited about the improvement in hitting.

Along with Oetgen, Pierson and Little, Garman said two other newcomers should help fuel theTitan attack.

Brenda Iglesias and Pierson will add to the depth behind the plate.

"Iglesia hits the ball hard," Garman said. "She will be Dhing a lot for us."

The team will test itself in a tough opening tournament over this weekend at the Arizona State Coca-Cola Classic. The Titans will open up with Purdue and then face Utah, Washington, who finished third in the nation last year and ASU.

"We can see right away where we stack up," Garman said. "It will show us what we need to work on. There is nothing worse than playing weak teams and then getting into the stretch and your team isn”t there."

Garman said she is looking for the team to be competitive in the Big West Conference this year.

Rival Long Beach State was dessimated by graduation, but teams like Sacramento State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo should provide tough competition.

In addition, the Titans will have the opportunity to compete against JoAnn Ferrieri who was a member of the 1985 national championship team. She is now the coach at New Mexico State.

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