Cal State Fullerton softball swept the Loyola Marymount University Lions on the road in a Thursday afternoon doubleheader on Feb. 18, but dropped both games of a second doubleheader Saturday afternoon on Feb. 20 at home against the UCLA Bruins, the No. 1 team in the nation, according to the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll.
In game one against LMU, Fullerton was able to ride a complete-game effort by senior right-hander Sophie Frost, who surrendered five runs, two of them earned, to go with eight strikeouts, as well as a five RBI outing from freshman infielder Hannah Becerra.
LMU got on the board in the first inning with two run-scoring singles, but Fullerton responded with three runs in the third to take the 3-2 lead.
The Titans scored another run in the fifth off a RBI single by Megan Delgadillo, but the Lions capitalized with a pair of RBI-groundouts after they loaded the bases in the sixth with two walks and an error, tying the score at 4-4.
Becerra’s three-run homer in the seventh gave Fullerton the go-ahead lead and extra insurance to maintain the lead. The Lions made a final effort with a home run in the seventh before Frost sealed the victory with a 7-5 final score.
In game two, Fullerton was able to take an early lead and maintain it throughout the game, with freshman right-hander Ellie Zellien and sophomore right-hander Dani Martinez holding LMU to two runs, combined with a steady offensive performance by senior Irie Siofele, who batted 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
A leadoff solo homer by freshman KK Humphreys in the second inning started the Titan’s scoring, and an inning error later by LMU allowed Humphreys to reach base and score on a Siofele double for a 2-0 lead. The pair would strike again in the fifth when Siofele doubled to right-center and Humphreys scoring after being hit by a pitch.
LMU outfielder Molly Grumbo hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to briefly trim the deficit to one, but Fullerton scored in both of the final innings on solo home runs by senior outfielder Kelsie Whitmore in the sixth, and sophomore infielder Daisy Munoz in the seventh, giving Fullerton the 5-2 win.
During Saturday’s matches against UCLA, the Titans had trouble against one of the best pitchers in the country, Megan Faraimo, redshirt sophomore pitcher and the 2020 Softball America Pitcher of the Year. Faraimo allowed back-to-back home runs to Becerra and Munoz, giving Fullerton an early 2-0 lead. But Faraimo then settled in, limiting Fullerton’s opportunities while giving up three hits for the remainder of the game.
Savannah Serrata, freshman right-handed pitcher, made the first start of her career and surrendered two earned runs with three walks and two strikeouts in three innings-pitched.
After going scoreless in the first two innings, the Bruins scored two runs in the third inning and earned one run in each of the final four frames to take a 6-2 victory.
The second game of the doubleheader against UCLA was a battle for all seven innings, with Fullerton taking a 4-3 lead heading into the seventh inning. Frost needed one final strike to complete the game and the upset, but a two-out, two RBI double by Bruins redshirt freshman Taylor Edwards erased the Titans’ lead at the last second, releasing the floodgates before losing.
Frost and the defense fought off multiple rally attempts, but the Bruins broke through and jumped on Frost for four more runs before she was removed for Martinez, who surrendered a three-run homer. UCLA won the game 10-4.
CSUF will travel to the University of San Diego and play the Toreros in a Monday doubleheader at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.