Anjie Bryant, a Cal State Fullerton freshman pitcher, is making the kind of debut that causes opposing coaches to approach Titan Coach Judi Garman and say, "Where did she come from?"
In each of the past two seasons, Fullerton has lost a dominating softball pitcher considered among the best in the country. Last season, Fullerton was without Susan LeFebvre. This season, the Titans are without Connie Clark.
But seemingly out of nowhere--actually Lakeside's El Capitan High School--Garman appears to have found another dominating pitcher.
Already, Bryant is 5-0 with a 0.92 earned-run average. Last weekend, as Fullerton (11-1) won the University of Arizona tournament, Bryant earned five of Fullerton's seven victories. She started three of those games and won three as a reliever.
"She's such a competitor," Garman said. "That was one of the keys that showed this weekend. She got in there, got into some tough situations and mowed them down."
Garman had high expectations for Bryant when she arrived at Fullerton, but Bryant had to make adjustments at first.
She was the starting pitcher in the Titans' opening game but ended up with a no-decision after allowing 10 hits and three earned runs over nine innings.
"She had to learn that with college hitters, you have to put it where you want to every time. She made a few mistakes early on," Garman said.
By the Arizona tournament, Bryant wasn't having such problems. She didn't allow a run in the five games she pitched.
"I was nervous in the beginning of the year, and I still am," Bryant said. "This level is where everyone sees you for the first time. It's a big difference compared to high school, especially when you play for a program as good as this one."
Bryant's abilities go beyond pitching. She is also a good hitter. She hit .333 in the Arizona tournament, and overall, she is batting .294. And Garman calls Bryant the best-fielding pitcher she has coached--a talent that helps out in softball, as players bunt almost anytime a runner reaches base.
The Titans expect good things from another freshman pitcher--Jackie Oakley Pittman, a former Ocean View High School star. Pittman is off to a 4-1 start with a 1.07 ERA.
"We're just really excited about both freshmen," Garman said. "They could have great careers in the next four years."
Add Softball: Valerie Van Kirk, long the Titans' standout defensive second baseman, is emerging as a hitting star as well. Van Kirk, a senior, is second to Tiny Glomboske (.371) among regulars with a .351 average, and she hit .435 in the Arizona tournament.
There are four games remaining in the regular basketball season, and the Titans have a realistic chance of finishing higher than their current ninth place. But already it is evident that some of the focus is shifting to next season.
Item: John Sneed and Donny Daniels, the Titan assistant coaches, were not on the bench for Fullerton's two home games last week. Instead, both were out recruiting. At the head of the bench: Jerry Lloyd, trainer; Cliff Hatter, equipment manager, and Dave Grossman, graduate assistant.
Item: Coach George McQuarn has taken to using some unlikely court combinations, even during close games. Among those playing more in recent games: junior Benson Williams and sophomore John Sykes.
One thing that hasn't changed: Richard Morton still isn't getting any rest. Morton averages 37.8 minutes and has played at least 33 minutes in every game but one--a 106-60 win over Brown, in which he played 29 minutes.
Fullerton's next-to-last chance to win a road game comes tonight against Fresno State. A game against the University of the Pacific Saturday will be the last.
One statistical indication of why Fullerton is 0-12 on the road: Herny Turner is averaging 20.6 points a game in Titan Gym but only 12.8 away from home.
Pac-11 Wrestling: Titan Gym will be the site of the Pacific 10 wrestling championships Sunday and Monday. The catch: Eleven teams will compete for the title of the conference, which includes teams from the Pac-10 and the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn., among others.
Arizona State, a three-time defending champion that is ranked third nationally, will be a strong favorite. The Sun Devils have five individuals ranked in the top six nationally, led by heavyweight Ron Severn.
Second place probably will be a battle among Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Utah State and Boise State.
Among the other top wrestlers: Eric Osborne (167) of Cal Poly SLO, who is ranked second nationally.
Fullerton's David Jones may be seeded fifth in the heavyweight division, and Rich Zele (150) also should be competitive, said Titan Coach Dan Lewis.
The top three finishers in each weight class will qualify for the NCAA championships, and conference coaches will pick four wild-card entrants from among other competitors.
Preliminary sessions are at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, with finals scheduled for Monday at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $4 for the general public and $2 for students.
Softball Coach Judi Garman will conduct a softball players clinic Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cal State Fullerton. The cost for the one-day sessions is $15. Instruction will include sessions on numerous phases of the game, with an emphasis on hitting, as well as motivational sessions. Pre-registration is required, and there is a discounted rate for teams. For information, call 773-3495. . . . Volleyball player Susan Herman will compete this summer on an Athletes in Action team that will play in the Philippines and Hong Kong. . . . Tom Phillips of the football team and Amy Torczon of the basketball team have been named Fullerton's PCAA scholar-athletes of the year.