FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton softball closed out the regular season with a doubleheader split against UC Santa Barbara as the Gauchos took game one by a score of 4-3, before the Titans came back and won in the nightcap, 7-1, on Senior Day at Anderson Family Field.
With the split, the Titans' season record moves to 43-14 (17-4 Big West), while the Gauchos drop to 28-28 (11-10 Big West) overall.
Cal State Fullerton will find out its opponent in the NCAA Regional on Sunday, May 15 during the NCAA Selection Show at 7 p.m. (PT).
Game 1: UC Santa Barbara 4, Cal State Fullerton 3
In game one, Cal State Fullerton scored early but was unable to keep UC Santa Barbara from coming back as the Gauchos tied the game in the fifth and won it on a go-ahead home run in the seventh.
The Titans jumped on the board in the bottom of the first thanks to a leadoff single by Samantha Vandiver. The sophomore leftfielder moved to second on a wild pitch and came around to score on a double to the left-centerfield gap by senior first baseman Melissa Sechrest to give Cal State Fullerton a 1-0 lead.
Fullerton added to its lead in the second inning when junior second baseman Sydney Colenzo and sophomore shortstop Shianne Brannan reached base on a fielder's choice and an error, respectively. With one out, junior rightfielder Delynn Rippy roped a two-run double to left-center to give the Titans a 3-0 advantage.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Sydney Golden (17-5) pitched well, but ran into a jam in the top of the third and gave up two runs on back-to-back singles followed by a sac bunt, a ground out and an RBI-base hit which cut the Titans' lead to one (3-2).
Leading by just one, Golden shut down the Gauchos in the fourth before hitting the leadoff batter in the fifth. Golden would go on to load the bases and walk in game-tying run as UCSB made it a 3-3 ballgame.
Golden pitched her way out of the bases loaded jam, but not before the tying run came across the plate.
The game remained tied at 3-all until the top of the seventh when Melanie Menor sent a two-out solo home run over the rightfield fence to give UC Santa Barbara a 4-3 lead.
Down to their final inning, Sechrest singled but the Titans were unable to bring the runner home as they suffered their 14th loss of the year.
Veronika Gulvin (8-11) earned the win for UC Santa Barbara after coming on in relief of Ashley Ludlow. Gulvin pitched 5.2 innings of work and shutout the Titans, while allowing six hits, striking out one and walking one.
Golden was tagged with the loss as she pitched all 7.0 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits, with two strikeouts and one walk.
Game 2: Cal State Fullerton 7, UC Santa Barbara 1
In the nightcap, the Titans sent senior right-hander Jasmine Antunez to the circle for the start. She was effective through 3.0 innings of work as allowed just one run in the top of the first before keeping the Gauchos off the board for the remainder of her outing.
Down 1-0 early, the Titans fought back in the bottom of the first and evened the score as they took advantage of a UCSB error as Rippy scored from second base.
The Titans had their biggest inning of the game in the second as they scored four runs in the frame to take a 5-1 lead over the Gauchos.
Senior designated player Sarah Moore legged out an infield single to get things going and came around to score the go-ahead run on a throwing error. Brannan and Rippy reached on a single and a fielder's choice and with two outs, senior third baseman Missy Taukeiaho ripped her ninth home run of the season to left-center – a three-run bomb – to give Cal State Fullerton a 5-1 advantage.
The Titans added another run in the third on a solo shot by Sechrest to extend their lead to five (6-1).
After 3.0 innings of work, Antunez made way for Christina Washington (3-0) who pitched 2.0 innings. She did not allow a run and UCSB connected for just one hit against her as she went on to collect her third win of the season.
Cerissa Rivera closed out the game as she pitched the final 2.0 innings and did not allow a run or a hit. She fanned three batters and did not issue a walk.
The Gauchos went through three pitchers in Ashley Wright, Gulvin and Ludlow. Gulvin (8-12) suffered the loss after allowing five runs on four hits in 2.0 innings.
Ludlow pitched the final 4.0 innings of the game and allowed just one run, which came in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by Rippy and Alexis Gonzalez to give the Titans a 7-1 lead.
Seniors Paige Kisling and Courtney Rodriguez earned the start in left and centerfield, respectively. The duo did a solid job defensively as both made a few diving catches to save some runs and keep the Gauchos off the board.
Senior Morgan Paul came off the bench in the fourth and roped her first-career base hit to centerfield as she exited the game to a roar of cheers from the crowd.
The only senior who did not see action in the contest was left-handed pitcher Desiree Ybarra who pitched a complete-game victory over UC Santa Barbara Friday night.
The Titans out-hit the Gauchos 9-3 in the game as almost every starter recorded a base hit. Rippy was 2-for-4 with three runs scored, while Taukeiaho was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run.
The Cal State Fullerton softball team invites friends, family and fans to come out to Roscoe's in Fullerton Sunday, May 15 to watch the NCAA Division I Softball Selection Show. Festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m., and the selection show will kick off at 7 p.m.