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NCAA SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS

Host Titans Find Regional to Their Liking

May 15, 2003|Eric Stephens

Unlike last year, when she questioned whether the seedings for the NCAA softball playoffs were "fair," Cal State Fullerton Coach Michelle Gromacki isn't complaining about her team's placement in the field that begins play today.

Fullerton is not only top-seeded in a regional, it is also host. The Titans (39-13) will face Rider (24-23) in a first-round game at 11:30 a.m.

"We're very excited about hosting and we were more excited after the pairings came out," said Gromacki, whose team last year was eliminated in a regional final by Cal, the eventual national champion.

The Titans are led by three-time Big West Conference player of the year Jenny Topping and co-pitcher of the year Jodie Cox.

"I think we have a shot to make it to [the Women's College World Series]," Gromacki said.

In other first-round games at Fullerton, Louisiana Lafayette plays San Diego State at 9 a.m., Oregon plays Penn State at 2 p.m. and Oklahoma State plays Boston University at 4:30 p.m.

UCLA (45-6), which is seeking its first national title in four years, is the top-seeded team in a regional at Fresno. The Bruins, led by national player-of-the-year candidate Natasha Watley, will play Colgate (30-13) at 12:30 p.m.

In the same regional, Long Beach State (29-17) will face Fresno State at 10 a.m.

Cal State Northridge (26-21) plays Minnesota (36-19-1) in an opening-round game at 9 a.m. at Tucson, Ariz.

The double-elimination regionals end Sunday.

-- Eric Stephens

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