CSUF softball drops series to Hawaii after thrilling extra-inning rubber match

In Sports

After earning a gritty series win against UC Santa Barbara in the opening weekend of Big West Conference play, the Cal State Fullerton softball team lost two of three games against a tough Hawaii squad.

Game 1

The Titans (25-15 overall, 3-3 Big West) welcomed the Rainbow Wahine (23-16 overall, 4-2 Big West) to Anderson Family Field Friday to begin the series. With redshirt junior pitcher Desiree Ybarra out due to an injury, Christina Washington (12-4) earned the starting nod from Head Coach Kelly Ford.

The sophomore from Inglewood pitched a complete game, but not before being taken deep twice and allowing five runs on her way to her fourth loss of the season.

Washington was first touched up by Hawaii right fielder Keiki Carlos in the third inning with a solo shot to left field. Hawaii extended their lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning when Carlos’ infield single with the bases loaded brought in Lindsey Willmon.

The Titans answered in the bottom of the inning by capitalizing on a Hawaii defensive mistake. After junior Courtney Rodriguez reached first from an error by Hawaii shortstop Sarina Jaramillo, sophomore Lexi Gonzalez entered the game as a pinch hitter and brought Rodriguez home with a sacrifice fly to right field.

However, that would be the only offense CSUF would muster as they stranded a runner on third.

Rachel Lack launched a solo round-tripper to left-center field and Hawaii tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh to open their lead to four.

The Titans were not be able to get a runner past second in the final innings and succumbed to Hawaii 5-1.

Game 2

Saturday featured a doubleheader on a warm day at Anderson Family Field. Jasmine Antunez took over in the circle for the Titans and pitched beautifully.

The junior earned the complete game win by allowing just one run and scattering eight hits.

The teams were deadlocked through three innings before Hawaii opened the scoring in the fourth. Third baseman Kristina Akiona’s single allowed Jaramillo to trot home to take the 1-0 lead.

The Titans took their first lead of the series in the bottom of the fourth when Gonzalez stepped up again as a pinch hitter and lined a single into center field for two runs batted in.

Fullerton kept the pressure on in the fifth inning by extending their lead to 5-1 off of a 3-run shot by Rodriguez. The Arizona transfer went 3-for-4 on the day and was a single shy of completing the cycle.

Hawaii’s brief comeback with a solo homer in the sixth was immediately quelled by two more Fullerton runs in the bottom of the inning. Missy Taukeiaho missed the Santa Barbara series with an injury, but came back with a bang by crushing her ninth homer of the season in the inning.

The Titans would cruise to a 7-2 win to even the series at one apiece.

Game 3

Ford went back to Washington with the series hanging in the balance, but the southpaw disappointed in the rubber match.

Hawaii immediately jumped all over Washington, striking for five runs (four earned) off of five hits. Washington was chased after the first, giving way to redshirt sophomore Cerissa Rivera.

Rivera pitched admirably in relief, allowing just a solo homer over the next six innings. Rivera’s ability to keep the Hawaii offense quiet allowed the Titans to mount a comeback.

Freshman shortstop Shianne Brannan smoked her first homer as a Titan in the fourth inning to halve the deficit to 6-3.

The Titans entered the final frame still trailing by three, but Hawaii pitcher Kanani Aina Cabrales could not put the finishing touches on the series. CSUF came storming back with three runs off of three hits, capped off by an RBI-single by second baseman Samantha Galarza to send the game into extra innings.

All the momentum Fullerton gained was halted in the eighth when Hawaii struck back for two runs to go up 8-6. This time, Cabrales was able to finish off the Titans and secure the series win.

During the series, CSUF freshman outfielder Samantha Vandiver continued her torrid start to her Titan career, extending her school-record hitting streak to 24 games.

The Titans will have a chance to right the ship Tuesday with a non-conference match against UCLA before returning to Big West action next weekend against UC Riverside on the road.

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