After a promising start to the 2014 Judi Garman Classic for the Cal State Fullerton softball team, its rigorous schedule caught up to them in the final three games. The Titans had seven games scheduled this past week over a five-day span, which led to a 2-3 record at the prestigious tournament.
Monique Wesley (1-1) started the game for the Titans against San Jose State. The sophomore right-hander worked two innings and gave up two runs in the second inning before Head Coach Kelly Ford turned to freshman Christina Washington (3-3) to come in for relief.
Spartan pitcher Allison Lang was holding the Titan bats in check but her defense couldn’t help her in the third inning. San Jose State committed five errors in the inning, which led to four CSUF runs off of just one hit.
The four runs scored in the third were more than enough for Washington, who pitched five shutout innings of relief and struck out four batters. The left-hander scattered six hits and a walk but made the crucial out when it mattered.
The Titans got six hits in the game, and sophomore third baseman Missy Taukeiaho accounted for four of them. One of those hits was a home run to right-center field in the fourth inning, her sixth of the season. Taukeiaho’s round tripper made it 5-2, the score that CSUF would win by.
“I knew she (Lang) was going to go outside so it was just a matter of time. That pitch was the fattest pitch of the at-bat so I pulled the trigger,” Taukeiaho said.
The Titans got an early 1-0 lead in the Fresno State game by capitalizing on an error. Bulldog first baseman Stesha Brazil tried to throw out the lead runner, Ariel Tsuchiyama, but her throw was off the mark. Senior shortstop Gabby Aragon then singled in Tsuchiyama to take the lead. Tsuchiyama, the senior catcher, crossed the plate three times in the win.
The Titans cashed in on two more Fresno State errors in the second inning, scoring four runs to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
CSUF extended its lead in the fourth inning when Tsuchiyama got all of a fastball and crushed it over the right-field fence and into the bleachers.
Fresno State got on the board with two runs in the sixth inning, but Aragon responded with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to seal the 9-2 win.
“I’ve been in a little bit of a slump so it feels so good to finally get a couple hits,” Aragon said. “I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well, my hands are just getting there now.”
Sophomore Jasmine Antunez (7-6) got the starting nod in the circle for CSUF. Antunez went the distance for the Titans, striking out three in her second complete game of the season. The right-hander yielded two runs off of four hits and three walks.
Ford was thrilled with the momentum the team was building and with a chance to replicate their effort in the Easton Tournament where the Titans finished 5-0 and downed the defending champions and then No. 2 Oklahoma.
“If we have a repeat performance of our opening weekend, you’re going to have a tough time catching me because I’m going to be jumping up for joy running around the field,” Ford said.
Unfortunately, there wouldn’t be very much jumping for joy for Ford and the Titans, after the doubleheader on Saturday as the momentum came to a screeching halt.
Their first game was against No. 14 Nebraska and the twin duo of Tatum and Taylor Edwards. With Tatum as the pitcher and Taylor playing catcher, the pair had great chemistry all game. Tatum Edwards pitched effectively, allowing one earned run and an unearned run while recording a complete game. She struck out six Titan batters and kept them off balance all game.
The CSUF pitchers struggled against the Cornhuskers. Wesley started the game and was tagged with four runs in her 3.2 innings of work. Washington didn’t fare much better in relief, giving up five runs, only one earned. The Titans committed three errors in the third inning that led to three Nebraska runs.
By the time CSUF got their first run in the fourth, Nebraska already had six runs. The Cornhuskers cruised to a 9-2 victory with the help of a two-for-three effort from Taylor Edwards, who sports a gaudy .473 batting average. No Titan had a multi-hit effort in the loss.
The team had to quickly pick themselves back up because they immediately had a showdown with No. 8 Arizona. Other than an error in the third inning by Taukeiaho, the CSUF pitching staff and defense looked sharp through the first four innings. It was a pitching duel between Antunez and Estela Pinon, but the fifth inning turned into a nightmare for the Titans.
The Wildcats struck for three runs, which chased Antunez from the circle. In came Washington and the onslaught continued. Arizona scored six runs before the second out was recorded. The Wildcats then put on the two-out rally of a lifetime. Arizona scored nine more runs with two outs with the help of two home runs by Chelsea Goodacre in the inning. The third out eluded Washington, who ended the game with 0.1 innings pitched and 11 earned runs. Wesley came in and forced the final out on the first batter she faced.
CSUF rolled over in the bottom of the inning, going down in order to force the run rule with the score at 15-0. It was the first time the Titans were run ruled this season. The Titans barely avoided getting no-hit, with a single by sophomore Samantha Galarza in the second providing the only offense for CSUF.
The Titans wanted to avenge their dismal showing on Saturday, but didn’t have much energy to put up a fight against Wisconsin.
“Fatigued? Yeah, to say the least,” Aragon said. “It’s a little hard. We’ve played every day since Tuesday so it gets a little tiring.”
After both teams scored a run in the first, the Titans failed to plate any more runs while Wisconsin pushed a run across in the fourth and two in the fifth to win 4-1.
Aragon was the lone bright spot for the Titans, batting two-for-two on the day and driving in the sole CSUF run.
Antunez pitched her second complete game of the tournament, but this time it was part of a losing effort. The Titans didn’t provide much support for Antunez, managing only four hits against Cassandra Darrah, who also went the distance.
The Titans are now on a three-game losing streak after being on a four-game winning streak.