CSUF softball will take its No. 1 seed in the Big West conference on the road for its series against Hawaii starting Friday.
As they near the halfway point in conference play, the Titans an overall record of 23-20 record and an 8-1 conference record.
Fullerton’s comeback victory against Long Beach State last weekend gave the team a lead in the Big West, and also established a greater level of confidence among the players.
“Going in, we knew it was going to be a dogfight and a battle for first place,” shortstop Shianne Brannan said. “That was definitely a huge confidence boost. We’re on a high right now, and I don’t want it to go down.”
Titans Head Coach Kelly Ford attributed some of CSUF’s continued run of excellence in conference play to the predictable schedule that doesn’t exist during nonconference action.
“When you’re playing in a tournament, you’re playing five games against five different teams. You don’t want to over scout because you have to focus on the first (game). Now that we’re in conference and we know we’re playing the team three times, we’re in rhythm with what we do in practice,” Ford said.
In the Big West the Titans rank second in hits, runs and RBIs, while Hawaii is sixth in runs and RBIs and seventh in hits. Brannan and Ford said the team’s practice routine does not change based on its opponent.
Brannan said she believes the Titans need to maintain a high level of intensity and focus during practice because their success this season and those prior have put a target on their back.
“It’s something you live for. I feel like that pressure is the thing you want to play for, but you don’t want to let the pressure become too big,” Brannan said.
To counteract the pressure, Ford integrated “free spirit” time into practices to teach Fullerton to have fun while also getting work done.
“I think a characteristic of a championship team is a team that can laugh together,” Ford said. “When they can laugh together and tease each other, it creates a more relaxed vibe … there is power in playing this game loose and free.”
Brannan has no problem buying into the “loose and free” ideologies that her coach preaches because she believes CSUF will secure its third-consecutive Big West championship.
“Yes, of course I do. I’m super confident in our team,” Brannan said.
The Titans will have three chances to inch closer to that title with Friday’s game starting at 9:00 p.m. and Saturday’s games at 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., respectively.