Julia Valenzuela’s walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh inning completed a five-run comeback for CSUF softball, taking the game 8-7 and the series 2-1 against Long Beach State.
The double was Valenzuela’s fourth of the season, also earning her fifth multi-hit performance this year.
“I honestly wasn’t thinking that much, just taking as many pitches as I could until I got a strike. Be short to the ball and put the ball on the ground, whatever it takes to score that run,” Valenzuela said.
In the second contest of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Titans trailed 5-0 during the fourth inning. After walking the first batter she faced, pitcher Hannah Johnson exited the game for Taylor Dockins.
Without any outs and the bases loaded, the 49ers were in prime condition to run the score up and put the game out of reach.
“Personally, I was thinking to not let the ball get past me. I was catching the ball with two hands and trying not to let it go by me,” Valenzuela said.
However, on her first pitch, the Titans made a double play to get the batter and runner on third out. The next batter grounded out to second baseman Sam Kennedy and Fullerton left the inning unscathed.
CSUF brought in five runs with a series of singles and a walk in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game. The Titans cycled through their batting order in the inning, shifting the momentum in their favor.
Long Beach tacked on a run in both the fifth and sixth to increase its lead to 7-5 heading into the final inning. After pitching a complete game earlier that day and throwing an inning and a half to start this contest, Trish Parks returned to the circle and struck out two batters with the bases loaded to hold the score.
In the bottom of the seventh, third baseman Bryanna Ybarra brought center fielder Ari Williams home with a single to cut the deficit to one. Three more Titans loaded the bases and Valenzuela ended the game with two outs.
“We knew (Parks) was fatigued. She just had a baby in November so her endurance is not what a normal pitcher’s is at this time. For her to come and close the game, just wow,” Titans Head Coach Kelly Ford said.
In the game prior, Parks tied her season-high strikeouts (4) while only giving up four hits. The 49ers only scored once in the contest, their fifth time in 41 games being held to one or fewer runs.
Right fielder Brooke Clemetson broke CSUF softball’s single-season record of stolen bases, earning her 28th to lead the Big West.
B5 | After reaching on a fielder's choice, Clemetson does what she's done all year and swipes second!
That's #28 on the year for her…the single-season record. Congrats Brooke! pic.twitter.com/mr73qWyUYz
— Titan Softball (@CSUFSoftball) April 14, 2018
CSUF also recorded four hits in the game. However, Williams’ home run in the fourth inning gave the team the lead and Parks held Long Beach the rest of the way.
The home run is the first for Williams this season and the team’s 14th.
“This is huge for our program. It’s always a knock-down, drag-out with Long Beach State. To come back after last night’s subpar performance and believe… these athletes responded to it. Full team win, just amazing,” Ford said.
Fullerton came into the series with a share of first place and now own the top spot in the Big West conference.
The Titans know they still have work to do as they prepare to face Hawaii, which sits in fourth place in the conference.
“We’re going to fly into Hawaii on Thursday with our briefcases. The bikinis will be in there, but we aren’t taking those suckers out until Sunday. We are going there to work,” Ford said.