Designated player Mikaela Francis came in to hit for shortstop Shianne Brannan with two outs in the seventh inning. On only her ninth at-bat of the season, Francis crushed a ball over the right field wall to bring in three runs, delivering Cal State Fullerton softball an 8-6 win and series sweep against UC Davis at home on Sunday.
CSUF (29-20 overall, 14-1 in conference) remains in first place in the Big West after recording its fourth sweep in conference play this season.
“We’re never done until we decide that we’re done. In the fourth inning, you can choose to decide it’s over if you’re down four runs, or you can decide ‘No, we’re going to come back and take this’ and it’s deciding that every single pitch,” Francis said.
Sunday was Francis’ 23rd birthday, which is also her jersey number. Titans Head Coach Kelly Ford said she believed the stars aligned for the senior and attributed Francis’ huge play to “Titan magic.”
Ford said the coaching staff decided to give Francis the at-bat to save Brannan’s body because she is recovering from a shoulder injury. Ford said she believed Francis “had been ready for a long time” to make a big impact on a game.
Once she knew her new role, Francis began preparing however she could for her opportunity.
“I really locked into Zoe’s at-bat to see how (Aggies pitcher Brooke Yanez) was pitching because she was the pitcher that started the game,” Francis said.
The Aggies logged 11 hits Sunday, the only team in the Big West to record double-digit hits against Fullerton other than Long Beach State. They are also the third team in conference to hit multiple home runs in one game against CSUF.
In Big West games in which their opponent records multiple home runs or double-digit hits, the Titans are 2-1.
“You’ve got to honor this game by playing through the last swing. It doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says and that’s why I have so much respect for these athletes. They could look ahead because there’s a lot in front of them but our theme right now is ‘one pitch at a time.’ As cliché as that sounds, that’s our power right now,” Ford said.
Ford said the Titans’ “determination and grit” delivered them a victory to extend their winning streak to eight games. Francis said she believes the streak will continue as long as the Titans continue to play at the same level.
“As long as we play Titan softball, there’s no competitor that’s too big for us,” Francis said.