CSUF softball will make its return to the diamond next week to start the 2018 spring season, but the back-to-back Big West champions have more on their minds than just a third consecutive conference title.
Fullerton was voted No.1 in the Big West preseason poll after going 17-4 during conference play last season, advancing all the way to the NCAA championship regionals before falling to UCLA.
The Titans give themselves high standards, with players holding each other accountable for any issues that may arise within their squad. Though conference play has yet to begin, senior pitcher Nyah Rodman said the atmosphere around the team is different than previous years.
“With this team, we have really good communication, not just between infield and outfield but between pitcher, infield and outfield which is saying something,” Rodman said. “I feel like this is the best year with that connection.”
The strong bond within their “sisterhood” has given the Titans the freedom to communicate to each other what needs to be fixed on the field, something Ford said is more valuable than what’s already in her coaching book.
“We’ll have a post-practice meeting and honestly, the athletes are giving more critique or feedback than ever before. And it’s being more accepted than ever before,” Ford said.
The Titans have also implemented a “big sister” program to help their newer members adjust to the tedious schedule that comes with being a student-athlete.
“(Big sisters) would help them get through all their classes and if they had any questions we were their go-to,” said senior shortstop Shianne Brannan.
A new focus on intrasquad matches with a realistic game atmosphere has given the new and returning members a chance to become comfortable and ease their nerves in preparation for opening day.
But as the young players get ready to make their collegiate debut, Brannan is confident the new Titans will make their mark early.
“A lot of people can see (having a lot of freshman) as a negative, but I like to see it as a positive. I like to see that ‘You know what, our pitching staff is young but there’s no scouting report on them’. The teams are going to struggle and they’re going to see them for the first time,” Brannan said.
While the coaching staff tries to minimize any flaws they’ve seen during training, they patiently wait for opening day to have a better view of what they need to work on before conference play begins.
The Titans will begin preconference play against Rutgers University with the Titan Classic at Anderson Family Field on Friday, Feb. 9 at 3:30 p.m.
“I think everybody is sick of practice and we’re ready to play, even the coaches,” Ford said. “We’ve got business to take care of.”