In the opener of a three-game conference series at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium in Honolulu, the Cal State Fullerton softball team came from behind to defeat defending Big West champion Hawaii 5-3 in nine innings.
Titan pitcher Christina Washington struggled out of the gate in the first inning. The freshman allowed four hits including a home run, one walk and three earned runs. After only recording one out in the first inning, Head Coach Kelly Ford turned to pitcher Jasmine Antunez to stem the tide.
Antunez was able to do just that, as she recorded five outs without allowing another run through the rest of the first and second innings.
In the third inning, the Titans offense came out in full force, starting with a double down the line by sophomore Missy Taukeiaho, a walk to senior Ariel Tsuchiyama and a hit by pitch to junior Eliza Crawford, which loaded the bases. An additional hit by pitch to senior Gabby Aragon put the first run on the board for CSUF. Sophomore Samantha Galarza then hit a sacrifice fly. This was followed by a single by junior Carissa Turang and walk to sophomore Paige Kisling. The Titans scored three runs in the inning to tie the game, 3-3.
After entering in the first inning, Antunez continued to keep the Titans even throughout the rest of the game by tossing a career-high 8 2/3 innings while also tying a season high with eight strikeouts. After Hawaii scored three runs off of Washington to begin the game, Antunez only allowed four hits and zero runs the rest of the way.
With Antunez and Hawaii pitcher Loie Kesterson matching each other pitch for pitch, the game was not decided until the ninth inning. With one out in the top of the ninth, Galarza smacked a double down the line, followed by a single up the middle by senior Lauren Mario. A wild pitch by Kesterson allowed Galarza to score, giving the Titans a 4-3 lead.
A walk to Kisling and a single to left field by senior Leesa Harris then gave the Titans an important insurance run, putting the score at 5-3. Antunez completed her impressive performance by closing the game out in the bottom of the ninth.
The Titans had well-rounded contributions from their offense. Aragon, Galarza, Kisling and Harris each drove in a run. Kisling, the center fielder, was effective in all five of her plate appearances by getting on base with three hits, two walks and one run batted in.
The Titans had 12 hits total and were solid defensively, committing zero errors. Antunez was awarded with the win, making her 9-7 for the season. Kesterson was tagged with the loss, dropping to 10-6 for the season.
This marked the first extra innings win for the Titans since April 20, 2013 where they defeated UNLV 5-4 in 12 innings. Ford also reached her 50 career victory at the Division I level. She has over 500 career wins between her previous position at Mt. San Antonio College and Cal State Fullerton.
With the win, Cal State Fullerton’s record improves to 22-13-1 and Hawaii falls to 18-15.
The Titans have won three out of their four games in conference play so far this year.
The Titans hope to continue their winning ways with a doubleheader on Saturday against Hawaii and a game at home Thursday against top-ranked UCLA.