On senior day at Anderson Family Field, CSUF softball won both games in its doubleheader against UC Riverside, earning the Big West conference championship and its third consecutive a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The Titans defeated the Highlanders via run rule 8-0 in the first game of the doubleheader. During the game, Cal State Northridge defeated Long Beach State at Matador Diamond, eliminating the possibility for a shared Big West championship.
CSUF swept the doubleheader with a 2-1 victory over UC Riverside in the second game with pinch hitter Mikaela Francis’ walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning.
With the doubleheader sweep, the Titans finished the Big West with an overall record of 33-23 and 18-3 in conference. The last time Fullerton won three-straight Big West titles was in 2003 when CSUF won the conference four years in a row from 2000 to 2003.
“I’ll never ever play on a team like this again. I’ve never played on a team with such amazing personalities and the bonds that we have with each other are … I can’t even explain it,” said outfielder Sammy Vandiver. “I never knew that this day was going to come and it’s here and it went by so fast.”
Trish Parks threw a five-inning shutout in the first game against the Highlanders, striking out seven batters and allowing only two hits.
Senior outfielders Vandiver and Brooke Clemetson were key to a six-run first inning. Clemetson was walked on her first at-bat and stole second on the following pitch and was brought home by a single from Vandiver.
Catcher Julia Valenzuela’s three-run double capped off the inning.
In the second game, Parks relieved pitcher Kenzie Grimes in the top of the second. In her 6.1 innings, she again shut the Highlanders out, giving up only three hits with one strikeout.
Parks earned both wins on Saturday, improving to 10-2 this season.
“I think last weekend stung a little bit, dropping that last game of the series at Cal Poly. (Parks) was on a mission today and you can just see the fierceness in her eye. She was just going for it,” said Titans head coach Kelly Ford.
The Titans broke the 1-1 tie in the bottom of the eighth with a single from Francis, who came in to hit for second baseman Sam Kennedy.
With regionals starting Friday, May 18, Ford will again rely on her seniors to break through and advance.
“We’ve been to championship Sunday at regionals the last two years in a row and again I’m going to put it on our seniors, and I think they’re going to find a way to find it in their gut to get us through,” Ford said. “It’s amazing to go to NCAA postseason play for any team, but I think this group of seniors has that fire in their belly that they’re ready to rip through it.”