Softball splits pitching-heavy doubleheader games

In Sports, Spring Sports
Winnie Huang / For the Daily Titan
Winnie Huang / For the Daily Titan

Updated at 5:30 p.m. on February 18, 2013 to correct McNeese State’s record.

Cal State Fullerton pitchers allowed just two earned runs in fourteen innings of work Monday in a doubleheader against McNeese State University, but poor offensive production and a costly error late in game two forced the Titans to settle for a split.

Continuing an early-season trend, right-handed pitcher Jasmine Antunez (1-2) started both games and pitched four innings in each—something she has now done in all four of the team’s contests this year. Her only blemish was a two-run home run surrendered to MSU designated player Emily Vincent in the fourth inning of game two.

The doubleheader was originally scheduled to be played Friday but was postponed due to rain, causing the visiting Cowgirls (4-3) to spend an extra couple of days in Orange County. The Titan pitching staff made sure their guests had to wait even longer to get on the scoreboard.

Antunez allowed no runs and only an infield single in her first start of the day before being relieved by freshman Desiree Ybarra, who recorded the nine-out save to extend the Titans’ winning streak to two games. Ybarra—who also pitched an inning and a third in game two—struck out three, walked none and, most impressively, didn’t allow a single batter to get the ball out of the infield. She retired 13 of 14 batters faced, allowing only one to reach on an error.

“She’s just deceiving, has this big presence out there and just mixes junk,” said Head Coach Kelly Ford of Ybarra. “(Her pitch) just breaks, she’s got great break.”

The left-handed Ybarra was unsolvable for the Cowgirls hitters, baffling them with her assortment of off-speed pitches.

“It felt good. Didn’t think too much, just let it go basically,” said Ybarra. “I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself and just really used my spin.”

“She’s got a nice screw, a nice curve, a magnificent change,” Ford said.

Despite the overpowering game one performance by Antunez and Ybarra (one hit and six strikeouts in seven innings), the Titans  (2-2)were nearly unable to put together enough offense for the win.

CSUF scratched across the game’s only run without a hit in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a pair of walks, a sacrifice bunt, two stolen bases and a throwing error. With pinch runners on first and third (Leesa Harris and Carissa Turang, respectively) and two outs, Harris dashed towards second in a stolen base attempt. MSU catcher Ashley Modzelewski’s throw skipped into shallow center field, allowing Turang to cross the plate.

In game one, the Titans laid down five bunts and stole two bases, playing an impressive brand of small-ball reminiscent of Angels Manager Mike Scioscia’s famous early-2000s style.

“You know what, that’s just what the game called for,” Ford said. “We had a lot more runners on and opportunities to do something on the base paths.”

Game two began in similar low-scoring fashion, with the first runs coming in the top of the fourth on Vincent’s go-ahead two-run blast off Antunez, who was charged with the loss after earning the win in the first game.

With the Titans trying to stay within striking distance in the late innings, a pop-up to shortstop Gabby Aragon that should have ended the top of the sixth was mishandled, allowing a run to score and the inning to continue. The next two MSU batters each drove in another run with hits to left field, extending the lead to 5-0.

CSUF center fielder Ashley Carter led off the bottom of the inning with a ringing triple to center field and scored when Samantha Galarza collected an RBI groundout. No further Titans would reach base, and MSU evened the doubleheader with a 5-1 win.

With the split, the Titans moved to 2-2 on the season, while the Cowgirls are now 4-3. CSUF will travel to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for a five-game tournament beginning on Friday.

“My focus is to really get our bats going (in Nevada),” Ford said. “Our pitchers are throwing well enough to win, but you can’t win if you can’t score consistently. My goal is to score a run an inning, and we’ve gotta do a better job at handling that goal.”

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