FULLERTON, Calif. -- The Cal State Fullerton softball team starts its 2017 season by hosting the Easton Invitational at Anderson Family Field this weekend.
PREVIEWING THE WEEK AHEAD
The Titans will have the night cap on Friday as they face Pacific at 4 p.m. PT and conclude the day with a battle against Ole Miss at 6:30 p.m. PT. Fullerton will also play the last game on Saturday as well with a matchup with the Aggies of Utah State at 6:30 p.m. PT. The final day of the tourney comes on Sunday where the Titans take on Ole Miss at 10 a.m. and conclude the Easton Invitational with a game against Pacific at noon.
Friday, February 10
4 p.m. Cal State Fullerton vs. Pacific
6:30 p.m. Cal State Fullerton vs. Ole Miss
Saturday, February 11
6:30 p.m. Cal State Fullerton vs. Utah State
Sunday, February 12
10 a.m. Cal State Fullerton vs. North Dakota State
12 p.m. Cal State Fullerton vs. Pacific
Live stats: fullertontitans.com
Live stream: fullertontitans.com
The Titans have a strong dose of experience returning this season as five position starters and four pitchers return for Fullerton, including Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year Sydney Golden and All-Big West First Team outfielder Delynn Rippy.
Head coach Kelly Ford begins her fifth season at the helm of the softball program and will look to continue her success from last season after leading Fullerton to its first Big West title since 2006 and NCAA Regional appearance since 2009.
TITANS PICKED AS FAVORITE IN BW POLL
After winning its first conference title in 10 years last season, the Cal State Fullerton softball program was chosen to repeat as champions of the Big West in the Big West Preseason Poll, the conference announced on Feb. 1. The Titans received 57 total points and earned four first-place votes to lead the conference and take the top spot in the poll. Fullerton is coming off a remarkable 2016 campaign, finishing the year with a record of 45-16, the most wins recorded in a season since 2002. To complete the conference preseason poll, Long Beach State received three first place votes (55 points) to finish second, CSUN collected 49 points to placed third and Cal Poly placed fourth while receiving a first place vote (40 points), the only other team to do so. Hawaii (30 points), UC Santa Barbara (27 points), UC Riverside (17 points) and UC Davis (13 points) round out the bottom half of the poll.
In 2016, the Titans key to success was putting the pedal to the medal early in games as they outscored opponents 68-20 in the first inning and 56-16 in the second inning. Fullerton's record when leading after the first inning last season was an astounding 21-3.
Titan RHP Sydney Golden couldn't have asked for a better freshman season in 2016 as the Riverside, Calif., native was named Big West Pitcher of the Year after posting an 18-6 record with a 1.97 ERA in 138.2 innings pitched. Golden also earned All-Big West First Team, Big West All-Freshman team honors, Big West Player of the Week (4/25), NFCA All-West Region Second Team honors and being named a top 25 finalist for the NFCA Freshman Player of the Year. With Desiree Ybarra graduating last year, Golden will take over as the ace of the pitching staff while looking to repeat the success she had in 2016.
LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN
Coach Ford and the rest of the Titans welcome seven newcomers (four infielders, two outfielders and one pitcher) to this year's squad. Emily Randall (INF) and Zoe Richard will look to make immediate impacts as Randall comes to Fullerton with an excellent glove while Richard provides a power bat for the Titans. Julia Valenzuela (C) and Irieanna Siofele (INF/OF) finish off the infield for the newcomers as Valenzuela was one of the top catchers in her class and Siofele exemplifies athleticism and could compete at every position on the field. Meanwhile, Arianna Burns (OF) and Kelsie Whitmore (OF) cap off the position players. Burns was a four-year letterwinner at Lakewood HS and provides the Titans with a strong arm in the outfield. Whitmore will play softball for the first time in her career this season as she comes to Fullerton as a two-time USA Women's National Baseball Team gold medalist and played baseball at Temecula Valley High School. The lone pitcher among the newcomers is Mill Creek, Wash., native Sophie Frost (RHP). She joins the Titans after frustrating numerous hitters at Jackson HS, where Frost collected 200 strikeouts and 16 wins as a junior. Look for each one of these newcomers to make a name for them self in 2017.
Fullerton has two speedsters returning in 2017 as Titans Ariana Williams and Delynn Rippy look to continue to wreck havoc on the base pads. Williams was the stolen base leader for CSUF last season as she swiped 22 bags in 27 attempts for a success rate of 81 percent. Rippy also had her share of stolen bases last season as the senior stole 14 bases and was only caught twice for a success rate of 88 percent. Make sure to keep an eye on Samantha Vandiver too as she stole seven bags in 2016.
Senior Delynn Rippy and juniors Shianne Brannan and Samantha Vandiver are the only three Titans returning that played and started in 60 games last season. Two-time Big West Player of the Year, Missy Taukeiaho, was the only CSUF player last season to play and start in all 61 games.
THE ROAD TO 150
Since taking the helm of the CSUF softball program in 2013, coach Kelly Ford has finished .500 or better in each of her four seasons with the Titans. The Portland, Oregon, native currently sits 10 wins away from reaching 150 victories at Fullerton with 140. Last season, Ford led the Titans to 45 wins, which is the most since former Titan head coach Michelle Gromacki led her 2002 squad to 53 victories.
GETTING THE CROWN BACK
After finishing 17-4 in conference play last season, the Titans earned their first Big West title since 2006. The 2016 crown put Fullerton softball back atop the Big West in most regular season conference titles with nine. Prior to the start of last season, Long Beach State and CSUF were tied for first in conference history with eight. The Titans will have a chance to enter double digits with another Big West title this season.
TAUKEIAHO SIGNS WITH CHARGE
Former Titan softball star Missy Taukeiaho signed with the Texas Charge of National Pro Fastpitch back in mid-October. The two-time All-American becomes the 16th Fullerton softball player to sign a contract to play professional softball. Taukeiaho signed and played her rookie season with the USSSA Pride back in June. The former Titan is one of the best players to ever step foot on Anderson Family Field as she was named Big West Player of the Year (twice), All-Big West First Team (three times) and holds a spot in many program records as well. To keep up with Taukeiaho and her new squad, visit texascharge.net.
ICE IN THEIR VEINS
Titans Alexis Gonzalez, Delynn Rippy and Ariana Williams made the most of clutch at-bats last season with each of them finishing 2016 with an batting average of .390 or higher w/RISP. Gonzalez hit an impressive .400 w/RISP and collected 17 two-out RBIs while hitting .333 with two-outs. Rippy showed even more poise with two outs as the outfielder hit .393 w/RISP, .472 with two-outs and drove in 19 with two-outs. Lastly, as a freshman Williams made quite an impression with runners on as the outfielder hit .571 w/RISP, .385 with two-outs and finished the year with 6 two-out RBIs. So when the Titans find themselves in need of a big hit and any of these ladies are at the plate. Look for the big hit to come more than not.
NEVER TOO MUCH
In 2016, Fullerton softball proclaimed its dominance in the Big West and the stats showed it. When it came to hitting, the Titans led the conference in at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, RBIs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, total bases and extra base hits. In the circle, Fullerton found themselves at the top of the Big West in innings pitched, ERA and second in strikeouts, runs and earned runs. Overall, the Titans clearly showed from top-to-bottom that they were the best team in the Big West in 2016.
TAKING CARE OF THE FIELD
Since 2013, the Titans have put up a fielding percentage of .970 percent or higher in three of the past four seasons, including setting a program record in 2015 when they finished the year with a fielding percentage of .975. The main reason for the rise defensively over the past four seasons has been the strategy of associate head coach Jorge Araujo. The Cal Poly Pomona graduate serves as the defensive specialist for the Titans and has helped make Fullerton one of the best fielding teams in the country.
Fullerton softball will make its first trip to the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in February for the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, hosted by Triple Crown Sports. The Titans are appearing in the second session of the tournament on Feb. 16-18. The field features Florida Gulf Coast, Fresno State, Mississippi State and Texas Tech. CSUF will play each team at the event.
THE JUDI GARMAN CLASSIC
The Titans will play host of the Judi Garman Classic for the 36th year in 2017. The prestigious tournament will take place on March 2-5 and feature some of the top talent across the country. This year's field includes Iowa, Florida, Arizona State, Michigan, CSUF, UCLA, Fresno State, Long Beach State, Florida, Washington, California, Northwestern, Baylor, Indiana and South Carolina. The tournament will continue its round-robin format with at least seven games being played each day of the event. Tickets for the Judi Garman Classic can be purchased at fullertontitans.com.
Coach Ford and the Titan coaching staff like to take care of business in their home recruiting state of California as 24-of-26 players on this year's squad call the Golden State home. The only Fullerton players from outside the state of California are senior Kelsey Kessler (Blue Springs, Mo.) & freshman Sophie Frost (Mill Creek, Wash.).
ARAUJO PROMOTED, GRIMES ADDED
Coach Ford promoted assistant coach Jorge Araujo to associate head coach and former director of operations Caitlin Grimes to volunteer assistant coach in August 2016. Araujo will continue his role as the recruiting coordinator and defensive specialist for the program, while helping on offense, pitching and catching duties as well. Grimes joins the coaching staff after serving as the director of operations last season for the Titan softball program and will work primarily with catchers. Grimes played collegiate softball at North Texas prior to joining the Fullerton softball program.
TITANS RECEIVE ALL-SPORTS TROPHY
In September, the Cal State Fullerton softball program received its second Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association All-Sports Trophy, which goes to the top Division I institutions that do no sponsor football. Fullerton becomes only the 11th softball program with multiple DI-AAA ADA All-Sports trophies after collecting its first back in 2009. The Titans had quite the year in 2016 as coach Ford led her squad to its first conference title in ten years, 26th NCAA appearance and 45 victories which is the most since 2002. For more information on the All-Sports Trophy, visit www.divlaaa-ada.com.
TITANS ADD PITCHING DEPTH
The Titans made a late roster addition on Wednesday as they added All-Big 12 Second Team RHP Kelsey Kessler to the pitching staff. Kessler joins the program as a graduate transfer after spending the past four years at Kansas and Arizona State. The Blue Springs, Mo., native posted a team-leading 12 wins and 2.90 ERA with the Sun Devils last season. At Kansas, Kessler posted a 34-23 overall record while helping the Jayhawks appear in two-straight NCAA Tournaments. The senior was named to the NFCA All-Region Third Team during her sophomore year as she looks to make an immediate impact with the Titans.
FRANCIS NAMED BOLD SCHOLAR
CSUF infielder Mikaela Francis received a prestigious honor from the BOLD Women's Leadership Network in early December as she was selected to serve as one of their BOLD Scholars. Those who were selected as scholars must be a junior/full-time student while having good academic standing, exceptional leadership abilities, strong critical thinking skills, demonstrated passion for social equality and have demonstrated ability to work well in groups. Francis is currently in her second term as the President of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and has been highly involved in advocating for student-athletes within Titan Athletics, the Big West Conference and as the SAAC President to the NCAA. Her first action as a BOLD Scholar was to take part in a retreat to Middlebury College back in mid-January.
WELCOME TO THE TITAN FAMILY
Fullerton softball welcomed four new Titans to the program during the early signing period in November. The first additions to the 2017 recruiting class include Jody Cova (3B/C), Taylor Dockins (P/1B), Hannah Johnson (P/1B/OF) and Samantha Kennedy (2B/SS). Cova provides a power-bat to next year's squad as she hails from up North in Orangevale, Calif., where she earned All-Capital Athletic League honors three times. Kennedy hails from Anaheim, Calif., where she received multiple accolades during her time at Savanna High School. Her brother, AJ Kennedy, spent three seasons with Titan baseball before being drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2015. Dockins comes to Fullerton with quite a resume as she earned multiple league, region and state honors while also helping Norco High School win the CIF-SS Championship as a sophomore. The Norco, Calif., native also was named a Max Preps Junior All-American and provides a dual threat as she has a powerful bat and is one of the best pitchers in CIF. Lastly, Johnson provides versatility for the Titans as she played multiple positions at La Habra High School, but coach Ford sees her making the biggest impact in the circle. She's earned numerous accolades during her high school career and has wanted to be a Titan since she was little.
Coach Ford added pitching coach Tori Tyson to the coaching staff in 2016 and she made quite the first impression. Her pitching staff put up video game-like numbers in 2016 by posting a 2.22 team ERA (best since 2007), 23 complete games and 13 shutouts (most since 2007) in 410 innings pitched. Titans pitchers Sydney Golden and Desiree Ybarra benefited mightily from having Tyson as their coach with Golden being named Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year and Ybarra earning the Big West Pitcher of the Year award. Look for Tyson's impact on the pitching staff to continue to flourish this season.
WHITMORE HAS SPOT IN HOF EXHIBIT
Prior to committing to Cal State Fullerton, Kelsie Whitmore played with professional baseball club the Sonoma Stompers. Her game-used bat, helmet, along with a signed baseball by her and teammates Stacy Piagno and Anna Kimbreel will be included within the "Today's Game" exhibit case at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The bat and ball will be on short-term display in early 2017 as the museum is installing a "Whole New Ballgame" exhibit, which will take a look back on the past 40 years of baseball and move all the way to present day. Her helmet will also be included in a traveling exhibit with the Hall of Fame as they plan to use the item in a mini-exhibit that will be at the 2017 All-Star Game Fan Fest in Miami, Florida.
THE PERFECT 10 - GET 10 SOFTBALL TICKETS FOR $60!
Tickets come as vouchers and can be used all at one game, 10 games, the choice is yours!
Tickets are good for all games and tournaments excluding the Judi Garman Classic
For more information contact the Titans Ticket Office at 657-278-2783
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