LOS ANGELES – The Cal State Fullerton softball team suffered a 3-2 setback to No. 12/14 UCLA in the NCAA Los Angeles Regional on Saturday afternoon. With the loss, the Titans will face elimination when they take on the winner of the Fresno State-CSU Bakersfield game tonight at 6 p.m., at Easton Stadium.
"This game is what Regionals is all about," Cal State Fullerton head coach Kelly Ford said, "I'm very proud of our team and of their performance. It was just a well-played game; just a competitive game. I am proud to be a Titan today.
"You can look at UCLA's results throughout the season and there's not a lot of close ones. They're known for their power and our pitching staff did great. It was just back and forth. Our focus was absolutely a positive. Our will to compete every pitch was great. You look across the (stats) lines and I don't know if it could be more even."
The Titans played their second back and forth contest in as many days. As the game saw a pair of ties before the Bruins took the lead for good in the sixth inning.
UCLA jumped out in front early on a solo home run by Kylee Perez in the top of the first off of Cal State Fullerton starter Sydney Golden. The homer marked the first earned run of the NCAA Regional surrendered by Golden.
The Titans evened the score against the Bruins in the bottom of the second. Senior first baseman Melissa Sechrest was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and freshman Ariana Williams came in to pinch run. Williams stole second and came around to score after a single back up the middle by Courtney Rodriguez.
With the game tied 1-1, the Bruins regained their lead after Delaney Spaulding sent a solo home run to right field in the top of the fourth to give UCLA its one-run lead back (2-1).
Cal State Fullerton threatened in the bottom of the fourth, but was unable to score. With two outs on the board, the Titans took advantage of back-to-back UCLA errors and loaded the bases after pinch hitter Sarah Moore drew a walk. The Titans sent Mikaela Francis to the plate in place of Sydney Colenzo and she sent a line drive to third base, but right at Mysha Sataraka for the final out of the inning.
Still down by one (2-1), the Titans put together another two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth as Samantha Vandiver singled up the middle and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Missy Taukeiaho battled UCLA starter Selina Ta'amilo as she saw an 11-pitch at-bat before singling through the left side. Vandiver moved to third and scored after UCLA committed its third error of the game.
After Fullerton evened the score at 2-2, UCLA made a pitching change and brought in Paige McDuffee (5-0) who got the Bruins out of the inning.
With Fullerton senior right-hander Desiree Ybarra (15-7) in the circle in place of Golden, Spaulding belted her second home run of the game in the top of the sixth to put UCLA back on top, 3-2. The solo shot would prove to be the game-winner as the Titans were unable to plate another run.
Cal State Fullerton stranded Rodriguez at third in the sixth and left Vandiver at first to end the game in the seventh to bring its runners left of base total to six.
McDuffee earned the win for the Bruins, while Ybarra suffered the loss.
Ybarra pitched the final 3.0 innings of the game and allowed just one run on two hits, while striking out four and walking three.
Rodriguez was the only Titan to record a multi-hit game as she finished the game batting 2-for-3 with an RBI. Vandiver was 1-for-3 with a run, while Taukeiaho and Sechrest rounded out the remainder of the Titan base hits.