Cal State Fullerton softball went 3-2 in the Long Beach State/Fullerton Tournament, taking the last two games of the weekend and leaving them only one game below .500 for an overall record of 12-13.
“I think our pitching really got in a groove and that’s given our bats more confidence that we don’t have to come back from a huge deficit,” said Titans Head Coach Kelly Ford.
Titans 2, Aztecs 0
Fullerton opened tournament play with a 2-0 win against the San Diego Aztecs.
Titan ace Kelsey Kessler threw her second straight complete shutout game, allowing only four hits and two walks while striking out four. Kessler was able to work through numerous Aztec scoring attempts, stranding 10 Aztecs on base en route to her seventh win of the season.
“What was really impressive again was Kelsey and (Kylie Padilla),” Ford said. “That battery is just really clicking right now.”
Titan batters gave Kessler two runs of support on a Mikaela Francis RBI single and a Trish Parks RBI double. This was the first time in the past four games that Fullerton had scored more than one run.
Terriers 5, Titans 4
CSUF dropped both games of a doubleheader in its second day of the tournament, falling against Boston University and Harvard.
“I want to see more, we’re capable of so much more,” Ford said. “That’s our job as coaches is to get that out of them.”
Fullerton fell to Boston University 5-4 in game one thanks to Harvard’s four-run first inning, which was fueled by two Titan errors. Starting pitcher Sydney Golden settled down after that, only allowing one more Harvard run and throwing a complete game.
The Titans scored four runs in multiple innings but left seven runners on base throughout the game. A seventh-inning rally in which Titan slugger Lexi Gonzalez drove in two runs was not enough for the Titans to overcome their early deficit.
Crimson 2, Titans 1
In game two against Harvard, CSUF fell 2-1 thanks to a first-inning, two-run homer by Harvard’s Erin Lockhart. That was the only blemish in a strong outing by Titan starter Cerissa Rivera, who went five innings while striking out five.
“Cerissa just had one ball that she left a little bit up in the zone and (Lockhart) got on it,” Ford said. “But other than that, I thought that was her best performance of the year.”
Fullerton’s only run came on a Samantha Vandiver RBI groundout. Other than that, Titan batters could not muster anything against Harvard pitching, only recording five hits.
Titans 2, Lancers 1
After trailing for most of the game, CSUF came from behind in a gritty 2-1 win against the Longwood Lancers in game one.
Titan pinch hitter Zoe Richard delivered the go-ahead RBI for the Titans in the bottom of the sixth, driving in Shianne Brannan and Brooke Clemetson on a double into left field.
“That was clutch,” Ford said “(Richard) went after the first pitch as a pinch-hitting role, (Richard) got a good bat on the ball and spun one down the line.”
A combination of Titan pitchers including Sophie Frost, Rivera and Kessler gave up only one run and struck out six. Kessler picked up her eighth win of the season after pitching the last two innings for CSUF.
Titans 5, Crimson 1
The Titans also prevailed in game two against Boston, picking up a 5-1 victory that saw them score at least five runs for the first time in 13 games. Kessler picked up her ninth win of the season, going six innings while only giving up a run to the Terriers.
“I think I really am most proud of our pitching and defense,” Ford said. “Although it wasn’t perfect, (it) showed that it doesn’t have to be perfect. We just have to be able to recover from a booted ball or a mistake, and we recovered very quickly today.”
The Titans first two runs came on a Kylie Padilla RBI double in the bottom of the fourth. RBI singles by Francis and Delynn Rippy extended the Titan lead in the fifth and sixth innings, giving Kessler ample run support to secure the victory.
The Titans play next on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in San Diego where they will face off against the Toreros.