Cal State Fullerton softball sent its seniors out with a mercy-rule victory and a series win over the Big West champion, Cal State Northridge.
The Matadors (41-15 overall, 16-5 Big West) came into the series having already clinched a share of the Big West Conference title, but were looking to win it outright with a single win.
However, the Titans (34-22 overall, 12-9 Big West) spoiled the Matadors’ party on Friday with a 3-2 walkoff win.
With the Titans and Matadors owning nearly identical batting averages, the series was going to come down to the pitching.
Redshirt junior pitcher Desiree Ybarra got the starting nod in the circle for the Titans and held the Matador bats in check for her 11th win of the season. The southpaw went the distance, allowing two runs on six hits while fanning three batters.
The Titans were the first to strike when freshman Samantha Vandiver poked it past the CSUN second baseman to drive home Shianne Brannan in the second inning. The two-out rally continued when Courtney Rodriguez was drilled with the bases loaded to earn a painful run batted in.
The Matadors came storming back in the fourth inning with the help of the Big West Conference leader in homers and RBIs, Katie Hooper. The sophomore extended her home run tally to 15 with a solo shot to center field.
A walk and two singles by the Matadors knotted the game at two. The dagger came in the seventh inning.
After the first two Titan batters got on base, Samantha Galarza lined out to third baseman Maylynn Mitchell, but Mitchell’s throw to turn two outs sailed wide and allowed Sarah Moore to score the winning run from second base.
The Matadors, however, were able to celebrate after winning the first game of the Saturday doubleheader.
The Titans were out to an early lead again when Missy Taukeiaho hammered her 12th homer of the season, her first since April 11, in the first inning.
Redshirt sophomore Cerissa Rivera drew the start and held the Matadors scoreless through five innings. However, Mitchell crushed a two-run homer over the left field wall in the sixth to give the Matadors their first lead of the series.
Fullerton immediately regained the lead in the bottom of the inning when sophomore Lexi Gonzalez singled in Brannan and Galarza.
Head Coach Kelly Ford turned to Ybarra to close out the game, but was unable to shut the door on the Matadors. After Northridge loaded the bases, Ariana Wassmer got a base knock up the middle to plate two runs and wrestle the lead back.
The Titans went down quietly in the bottom of the seventh and fell 4-3.
Perhaps Northridge relaxed after securing the Big West crown, but nonetheless, Fullerton quickly shook off its loss by pounding the Matadors in the season finale.
Northridge was the first on the scoreboard from a wild pitch in the first inning.
Fullerton battled back in the second by also scoring its first run on a wild pitch and taking the lead when Vandiver plated Kylie Padilla with a single to left field.
The Titans piled on the runs with four in the third inning and one in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Gabrielle Rodas iced the 9-1 win by driving Brooke Clemetson home on a single to left field.
Redshirt senior Eliza Crawford, redshirt junior Emily Vizcarra and Galarza were honored by the school on Senior Day as each suited up for the Titans for the last time.
Even with the departure of the three, Ford will return most of her starters and be a force in the Big West in 2016.