The Cal State Fullerton softball team nearly completed a sweep on Thursday over rival Long Beach State, but ended up settling for a split in its doubleheader.
The victory in the first game of the doubleheader secured the series win after a run-rule win during the first game of the series on Wednesday.
Head Coach Kelly Ford sent out Christina Washington (9-5) to pitch the first game of the doubleheader. The freshman was masterful in taming a very potent 49er offense who leads the Big West Conference in batting average (.320) and runs scored (253).
Washington cruised to a complete-game win despite not recording a strikeout. The Inglewood native surrendered only one run off of five hits and two walks.
“We were all ready and just approached it like any other game and we came out ready to play,” Washington said.
Her only blemish came in the fourth inning after recording two outs. Carli Sandoval and Ashlynn Booker each singled, and then a double by Sarah Carrasco drove in Sandoval.
Ford was impressed with not only Washington’s performance, but the whole pitching staff in the series.
“Wasn’t that great to watch? I knew that our pitchers had that in them and to see them perform like that was outstanding. I’m so proud of our whole staff,” Ford said.
Long Beach State Head Coach Kim Sowder went back to pitcher Erin Jones-Wesley (18-6) despite getting roughed up in the first game of the series. Jones-Wesley improved from her horrendous game on Wednesday, but still took the loss after giving up three runs, two earned, in the third inning.
With runners on the corners, senior shortstop Gabby Aragon knocked in the first run with a bloop single to left field. With the bases loaded, freshman Sydney Colenzo picked a great time to knock in her first RBI of her CSUF career.
Colenzo’s single dribbled through to center field and drove in senior Jena Rubio, and Aragon scored on an error.
The Titans held on to win, 3-1, to clinch the series against the 49ers.
After no home runs in the first game of the day, the power was on display in the second game. The Titans jumped on Long Beach pitcher Amanda Hansen early.
In the first inning, senior catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama ripped a double, and Crawford singled in Rubio, who was pinch running for Tsuchiyama.
The CSUF offense exploded in the second inning. Senior Lauren Mario led off the inning with a monster solo home run over the left center field wall. With two Titans on base, sophomore third baseman Missy Taukeiaho singled in junior Carissa Turang. The Titans then extended their lead to 6-0 with a three-run line drive home run by Tsuchiyama that crept over the right field wall.
“This whole series I had not gotten one inside pitch out of all three games so as soon as that I got one I had to take advantage of it,” Tsuchiyama said.
It seemed that the Titans were on their way to a series sweep, but the offense went cold after the second inning and only mustered four hits the rest of the way.
After cruising through the first two innings, sophomore Jasmine Antunez (10-8) gave up her first run of the series in the third inning. The 49ers continued to chip away at the lead in the fourth inning, getting two more runs.
The 49ers completed their comeback effort with a three-run home run of their own in the sixth inning, courtesy of Leilani Tupua-Tautalatasi.
Long Beach put up two more runs in the seventh off of sophomore pitcher Monique Wesley (4-6). It was Tupua-Tautalatasi once again that hurt the Titans, with a two-run single. Tupua-Tautalatasi finished the game batting four-for-four with six RBI’s.
Jones-Wesley came in to pitch the seventh inning, and she had the last laugh of the series as she shut the door on the Titans to avoid the sweep.
“We coasted. We gave them second chances and it cost us. Sometimes when you’re ahead you’re like ‘Oh, no big deal’ but with a team like this it’s a big deal. We didn’t play a clean game of softball the second half of that game,” Ford said.
The Titans brought out a secret weapon during the series, a large stuffed animal dragon. After years of sitting in the locker room and almost getting tossed out by Ford, the dragon finally got to see the light of Anderson Family Field. With the success of the team in the series, it looks like Titan fans will see more of the dragon.
“I think he (the dragon) will be staying with us for the rest of the season,” Tsuchiyama said.
For more information on CSUF softball and all Titan athletics, go to FullertonTitans.com.