The Titans’ softball team lost a close one, 3-0, to the visiting Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the opening game of the Judi Garman Classic on Wednesday night.
One bad inning in softball can be the determining factor between a win and a loss, and that’s exactly what happened to the Titans (11-14) as one bad inning did them in for the loss in what otherwise would have been a great pitchers duel.
Fullerton’s freshman right handed pitcher, Jasmine Antunez, was dominating for the first four innings of play. Unfortunately for the Titans, Notre Dame’s (15-6) junior right hander, Laura Winter, was just as dominant, if not more.
Both pitchers were matching pitch for pitch in the first four innings as Antunez (7-9) allowed just one hit while striking out four in the first four innings of the game. Winter (8-4) was even more impressive as she struck out the first seven Titan batters she faced. Fullerton was able to put the ball on the ground with an attempted bunt single but Winter gunned down the batter at first. Winter would go on to strike out 10 Titan batters in the first four innings.
The Titans had a chance to put some runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning when catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama started off the inning with a ball that was hit just out of the reach of the shortstop that dropped for a double.
“I was just trying to take what happened in my first at-bat into my second and trying to make as many adjustments as I could,” Tsuchiyama said of connecting for the first Titan hit of the night. “I knew I had to put the ball in play no matter how it was.”
The next hitter, Ashley Carter, put down the sacrifice bunt but was able to get on base without a throw to put runners on the corners with no outs. Carter then stole second base to put runners on second and third base with nobody out. CSUF succeeded to hit two straight pop-ups in the infield which then left second baseman Lauren Mario to try and drive those two runs in. She was called out on strikes to end the inning and leave the two runners in scoring position.
“We had two runners in scoring position with nobody out and we couldn’t score, and it was three easy outs,” said Titans head Coach Kelly Ford. “(Winter) is good; she did a really good job.”
That was the closest Fullerton got to putting any runs on the board against Winter as she went on to finish the game with 11 strikeouts on three hits in a complete game shutout.
Then came the dreadful inning in the fifth. After getting the first out on a flyout to left field, Antunez seemed to hit a rough patch when catcher Amy Butin hit a shot up the middle for a single. Antunez proceeded to walk the next batter to put runners on first and second base. Then Notre Dame’s Kathryn Lux hit a shot over center field for a standup double that drove in the first two runs of the game for the Irish.
“I just tried to give it my all but unfortunately they just got hold of one ball and that’s how they were able to score and I have to prevent that from happening,” Antunez said.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, after getting the first two outs, Antunez allowed another double that just missed going over the left field fence. Antunez was taken out of the game and was replaced by Desiree Ybarra. Two batters later, Buntin was able to drive in the third and final run for Notre Dame. Antunez finished the game with three earned runs allowed on five hits and had five strikeouts in six and two-thirds innings pitched.
“The pitchers are putting us in a position to win, they really are, but you can’t win if you can’t score,” Ford said. “Our offense has to pick up where our pitching and defense leaves off.”
The Titans look to rebound from this tough loss as they hit the field again Thursday, as they continue the Judi Garman Classic by taking on the red-hot Arizona State Sun Devils (25-1). First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.