CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton softball team splits its doubleheader on Sunday at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic with a shutout victory over No. 17 Utah and late-inning loss to St. John's.
With the split, the Titans stay at .500 with an 8-8 record so far this season. Fullerton will host the 36th annual Judi Garman Classic next weekend where they will play Arizona State (Thursday), Michigan (Friday), UCLA (Saturday) and Baylor (Sunday).
The first game featured a pitcher's duel as Titans starter Kelsey Kessler led the way by posting a complete game shutout while striking out nine, walking one and only giving up two hits to defeat No. 17 Utah, 1-0.
In game two, Fullerton's Irieanna Siofele homered in the fifth inning to tie the score at three, but the Red Storm took control of the game late with a three-run seventh to defeat the Titans, 6-4.
Game One (vs. Utah)
It didn't take long for Kessler to rebound from a rough-start against No. 11/12 Georgia on Saturday night as she dominated from beginning-to-end on Sunday against the No. 17 Utes.
Kessler sat down the first nine batters she faced before surrendering a double and a walk in the fourth inning. However, the senior worked her way out of trouble with two-straight strikeouts to end the Utah threat.
After two one-two-three innings in the fifth and sixth, Kessler was three outs away from a shutout but the Utes weren't going to make it easy for the Titans pitcher. Utah leadoff the final frame with a single and eventually got the runner over to third with a sacrifice bunt and wild pitch.
But Kessler didn't let the baserunner bother her at all as she struck out Kelly Martinez to complete the shutout and give the Titans their first win over a ranked-opponent this season.
Overall, the Titans had six hits against the Utes while scoring the lone run and committing no errors in a 1-0 victory. The first four hitters in the Fullerton lineup all finished the game with a hit.
Game Two (vs. St. John's)
The Titans carried the momentum from the win over Utah right into the second game of their doubleheader against St. John's.
Gonzalez ripped an RBI double down the left field line to bring in Rippy from second and give Fullerton a 1-0 advantage after four.
Titans starter Sydney Golden did a great job of working out of trouble in the first four innings as the sophomore held the Red Storm scoreless through the first four frames.
In the fifth, Trish Parks entered the circle for Golden and got hit hard as she surrendered three runs to St. John's, putting the visitors up 3-1.
However, Siofele knotted the score at three in the bottom half with a two-run homer to left. The bomb to left was the freshman's first home run in her collegiate career.
St. John's took the lead right back in the final frame with a two-run double off Golden and an RBI single off Sophie Frost to reclaim a 6-4 lead over the Titans.
In the bottom half, Ariana Williams laced a double down the left field line with one out to put the tying run at the plate for Fullerton. Delynn Rippy followed the double with a walk but Vandiver and Whitmore couldn't make the Red Storm pay as the junior flied out to left and freshman struck out swinging.
Overall, the Titans collected four runs on seven hits against St. John's while finishing the contest with one error. Gonzalez, Siofele and Brannan each finished the game with an RBI while the senior catcher was the only Fullerton player to collect multiple-hits against the Red Storm.
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