On a day when the temperatures rose above 80 degrees in Fullerton, the Titans softball team did not wilt under the heat as they extended their winning streak to eight games in a row.
The Titans swept the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners in their doubleheader. The Titans won the first game of the afternoon, 4-3, before completing the sweep by winning the second game 3-1.
Fullerton Head Coach Kelly Ford elected to start the game with Desiree Ybarra in the circle.
Ybarra entered the game having allowed zero runs in 7.1 innings against the State University of New York at Buffalo, and her ERA was down to an impressive 2.53.
Unfortunately for Ybarra, the no-run streak came to an end early in the game.
The Titan infield showed defensive cracks in the top of the second when second baseman Samantha Galarza and right fielder Delynn Rippy failed to catch a popup fly from Madison Bundy. Bundy’s hit drove in Julea Cavazos, who had stolen third, putting the Titans behind on the scoreboard, 1-0.
Selena Gonzalez’s hit evaded both Ybarra and shortstop Shianne Brannan, allowing Bundy to cross home and make it a 2-0 game in the Roadrunners’ favor.
Bakersfield extended their lead in the top of the third.
A shaky Ybarra loaded the bases, prompting Ford to change things up before things got too out of hand. Ybarra would end the game with three earned runs in 2.1 innings pitched.
Christina Washington replaced Ybarra in the circle, but the Roadrunners still managed a run. A Jo Larios grounder drove in Sydney Raeber and put Bakersfield ahead 3-0.
While the Fullerton infield cleaned up its act after the third inning, the offense—sans Missy Taukeiaho due to a minor knee injury—continued to struggle.
The Titan batters ended the game with seven hits, but only one of those came in the next two innings, as the Titans headed into the sixth still trailing by three runs.
Heading into the top of the sixth trailing by three runs, the Fullerton defense did their job, catching two grounders and a line drive to prevent Bakersfield from increasing its lead. After that, it was up to the batters to trigger the comeback in the bottom of the inning.
Courtney Rodriguez finished the game 2-for-3, but was critical of her performance.
“I think I did okay, but I think there are still areas I need improvement on,” Rodriguez said. “My first at-bat wasn’t very good and my second was okay. I just feel like I need to have a better plan.”
Despite her self-critique, Rodriguez brought the Titans back with aplomb.
With runners on first and second, Rodriguez hit a 2-RBI triple that cut the Fullerton deficit to 3-2. Rodriguez then crossed home herself, courtesy of a sacrifice fly from Sarah Moore, to make it 3-3 heading into the seventh inning.
Bakersfield failed to put up any more runs in the top of the seventh, giving Fullerton the green light to mount a come-from-behind victory.
The win came in the unlikeliest of ways. With the bases loaded, Moore was hit by a pitch that allowed Samantha Vandiver to walk home, giving the Titans the 4-3 win in the day’s first game.
The second game began more brightly than the first for Fullerton.
The Titans quickly loaded the bases in the first inning when both Vandiver and Rippy stole bases and Rodriguez was hit by a pitch. Eliza Crawford earned an RBI when she walked to first to put the Titans up, 1-0.
Another bases loaded walk, this time from Kylie Padilla, brought in Rippy and gave Fullerton the 2-0 lead at the end of the first inning.
The Titans prospered in the circle in game two. Junior Jasmine Antunez was making only her seventh start of the season, but she pitched exceptionally well despite the fact. Antunez allowed five hits and struck out four batters through seven innings pitched, which assured that the Titans remained in the lead for the entirety of the game. The Titans cruised to a 3-1 win in game two.
“Finally, hard work payed off,” Antunez said. “I’m really working hard at practice. I know I’m not getting on the field a lot, but getting into the bullpen, it feels just the same.”
With the sweep, the Titans enter Big West Conference play with a 22-12 record and riding an eight-game winning streak.
“We’re in a groove and I could put three or four different lineups out there that’ll turn into wins,” Ford said. “(The team is) just excited to get going with conference.”
Conference play begins Saturday at noon as the Titans take on the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in the first of a three-game road series.