FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton (21-13-1, 2-1) softball team overcame a five-run deficit to down UC Santa Barbara (21-12, 1-2), 11-7, and capture the Big West opening series. Samantha Galarza highlighted the slugfest with a deciding grand slam in the sixth inning, the third grand slam of the game between the two teams.
Infielder sophomore Galarza concluded the day batting 1-for-4, her only hit breaking a 7-7 tie late in the contest. Fellow sophomore Missy Taukeiaho provided a grand slam of her own, a towering shot to center field that erased a 6-1 deficit in the third frame. Taukeiaho batted a perfect 2-for-2 with four RBI while drawing two walks to reach base on all four plate appearances.
Freshman Christina Washington (7-4) came into the third inning for her 22nd appearance, tossing 4 and 1/3 innings while holding the Gauchos to only one run on five hits. Washington notched her seventh win of the season in relief as the Titans completed their largest comeback of the season erasing five runs.
Jasmine Antunez was given the start in the rubber match tossing 2 and 2/3 innings while surrendering four hits and six earned runs. The right-hander issued a career-high seven walks while striking out only one batter, but was off the hook as the Titans offense rallied for 11 total runs on nine hits.
Senior Gabby Aragon chipped in a 2-for-3 effort, including an RBI-double down the left field line to open up the scoring in the opening frame.
Tied at 1 apiece, the slugfest began in the third inning as the Gauchos loaded the bases after consecutive singles by MeShalon Moore and Lauren Boser. Shortstop Emily Brucelas soon followed by reaching base on a walk loading the bases. Freshman Stacy Cavazos launched a grand slam to center field, quickly breaking the tie and jolting the Gauchos to a commanding 6-1 lead.
It didn't take long for the Titans to respond as the rally began with Aragon and Lauren Mario roping consecutive singles off of UCSB starter Shelby Wisdom (9-8). Carissa Turang later followed with an RBI-double in the left center gap, scoring Aragon. Outfielder Paige Kisling drew her fifth walk of the season to load the bases. Taukeiaho took a 1-0 pitch and deposited the second grand slam of the game over the center field wall to wipe the deficit and put the Titans ahead, 7-6.
Wisdom went the distance in the circle, pitching six innings while surrendering 10 earned runs on 11 hits and issuing six walks en route to her eight loss of the season.
UC Santa Barbara answered in the fourth inning with an RBI-single off the bat of Samantha Stark as the Gauchos produced three hits while stranding the bases loaded, but tying the game at 7 apiece.
Already with a grand slam on the day, Taukeiaho reached base on a walk to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. Catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama dropped down a sacrifice bunt to advance Taukeiaho to second. First baseman Eliza Crawford lifted a fly ball to left field that was misplayed and dropped by Kristen Clark, reaching base on the error. Aragon was intentionally walked to load the bases for Galarza.
The native from Moreno Valley, Calif., took the first pitch she saw and blasted it over the left center fence for the second grand slam of the game for the Titans and the first of her career.
Washington shut the door on the Gauchos in the seventh inning, forcing a ground out by Clark to complete the thrilling comeback on Pink Day.
Following the series victory over UCSB, the Titans hit the road for a three-game series at Hawai'i. The Titans and Rainbow Wahine will meet in the opener on Friday (Apr. 4) at 6 p.m. and will wrap up the series with a doubleheader on Saturday (Apr. 5) starting at 4 & 6 p.m. All games will be contested at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium (RWSS) in Honolulu, Hawai'i.
Game Notes: Taukeiaho and Galarza combined for the second and third grand slams of the season…Fullerton now owns an overall record of 105-12 over the Gauchos…Galarza's four RBI set a new career-high…This is the second consecutive year that the Titans have clinched Big West opening series victories against UCSB…Taukeiaho batted a whopping 6-for-8 (.750) in the series with 9 RBI and 5 runs scored including a grand slam in the series finale.