The Cal State Fullerton Titans softball team brought out their brooms Saturday afternoon as they came back from an early deficit to complete the sweep of the University of the Pacific Tigers, 5-2.
With both softball and baseball at home this weekend, the CSUF ballparks were the place to be.
“There was electricity in air and lots of excitement in the field and in the stands and they are feeding each other back and forth,” said Head Coach Kelly Ford. “And with baseball across the way with a big series this weekend, this is a venue that is full of electricity.”
Freshman pitcher Jasmine Antunez (14-14) started for the Titans (26-27, 11-10 Big West) and had a busy first inning. Antunez struck out the leadoff batter but then gave up a single and walked the next two batters to load the bases, something that became a theme throughout the duration of the game.
Antunez then got Pacific’s catcher Amy Moore to ground into an inning ending double play and the Titans were still left unscathed. The Titans threatened in the bottom of the first by getting runners on second and third baee but junior shortstop Gabby Aragon grounded out to end the inning.
In the second Megan Allen led off and belted a pitch over the left field wall to give the Tigers the lead. Antunez settled down after the home run, retiring the next three batters. Antunez some help from the defense, including a spectacular diving catch from center fielder Ashley Carter. Her teammates were also impressed with Carter’s catch.
“It was amazing, but to be honest, that’s routine for her,” Aragon said. “She goes balls out on every play.”
“That was a game changer right there. If she doesn’t catch that, then the game could have gone either way,” said sophomore Desiree Ybarra. “As a pitcher you like to see that kind of effort.”
The Titans were quick to respond in the bottom of the inning. Freshman first baseman Melissa Sechrest worked a lead-off walk and senior right fielder Tiffany Scheffler reached first on a throwing error.
The next two Titan batters failed to reach base and it appeared as if the Titans would leave runners on base. But junior catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama walked to load the bases, and then sophomore second baseman Carissa Turang cleared the bases with a triple off the left field wall.
Ybarra followed up with a double to score Turang which gave the Titans a 4-1 lead.
Antunez came back out wanting to preserve the lead her team just gave her but she plunked the lead-off batter. She got the next batter to ground out but then gave up a double and a walk before Ford called on Ybarra to come on in relief.
With the bases loaded, Ybarra got the next batter to fly out to Turang. Ybarra walked the next batter which brought the Tigers back within two runs. Ybarra then quelled the Tigers rally by getting the next batter to ground out which is her specialty.
“(The bases loaded situation) didn’t seem like a big deal because we have done it so many times this year and coach Ford has really tried to prepare me for it,” Ybarra said. “I knew my job was to get in and throw ground balls so that’s what I focused on.”
“(Ybarra) is a ground ball out pitcher so truthfully she is at her best with the bases loaded because we know we have a force anywhere,” Ford said. “What many people don’t know is we often throw around batters and intentionally walk them and load the bases for her.
The Titans regained their three run lead in the third inning with singles from Aragon, Sheffler and Carter. CSUF could have stretched its lead even further but left the bases loaded with the score at 5-2.
In the fourth, Ybarra was worked into another bases loaded situation off of two errors and a walk, but still managed to get out of the inning without giving up a single run.
Despite being down three runs, the Tigers had one final push in the seventh inning as they loaded the bases once more off of a single, a walk and an error. Ybarra shined once again when her team needed her and got the next batter to ground out to second and the Titans preserved their 5-2 win and completed the sweep.
Ybarra (9-12) was credited with the win and Shepard (6-6) took the loss. Ybarra was credited with wins in all three games this weekend and the Titans came from behind in every game this weekend. The sweep boosted the Titans into fourth place in the Big West standings, one game behind the Tigers.
“We are trying to make it to the postseason right now so we are trying to get above .500 so we needed these,” Aragon said. “It was just a team effort and everyone was on their game this weekend.”
The Titans will try and even their record next weekend at home against Cal State Northridge (24-29, 10-11 Big West) in their final series of the season. The Titans and Matadors will have a doubleheader on Friday starting at 4 p.m. and finish their season on Saturday with a noon game.
For more information on the softball team and their run toward the end of the season, visit FullertonTitans.com.