FULLERTON, Calif. -- The Cal State Fullerton softball team plays host this weekend to one of the most prestigious tournaments in collegiate softball, the 36th annual Judi Garman Classic.
The tournament will take place from March 2-5 and feature some of the top-talent from across the country as seven-ranked teams, including No. 1/3 Florida, No. 7/8 Washington and No. 8/7 UCLA. Each day of the tournament will feature at least seven games, including 10 games on Friday and Saturday.
The Titans will take on No. 20/20 Arizona State at 5 p.m. on Thursday before battling No. 14/14 Michigan on Friday at 5 p.m. as well. On Saturday, Fullerton faces No. 8/7 UCLA in the final game of the day at 7:30 p.m. and closes out the weekend on Sunday with No. 22/22 Baylor at 2 p.m. PT.
PREVIEWING THE WEEK AHEAD
After seven games last week, the Titans get back to work this weekend by hosting the 36th annual Judi Garman Classic which features seven ranked-teams, including No. 1/2 Florida, No. 7/8 Washington and No. 8/7 UCLA. Fullerton is coming off a 1-3 showing at the Mary Nutter Classic with the lone victory coming in grand-fashion as starter Kelsey Kessler threw a two-hit shutout against No. 17 Utah to lead the Titans to a 1-0 victory. Earlier last week, Fullerton swept its doubleheader against CSU Bakersfield with two road wins and run-ruled Houston at Anderson Family Field, 8-0, thanks to a couple home runs from Emily Randall and Lexi Gonzalez.
Thursday, March 2
Arizona State at Cal State Fullerton | 5 p.m.
Friday, March 3
Michigan at Cal State Fullerton | 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 4
UCLA at Cal State Fullerton | 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 5
Baylor at Cal State Fullerton | 4:30 p.m.
Live stats: fullertontitans.com
Live stream: flosoftball.com
Last week, Delynn Rippy, Lexi Gonzalez and Kelsey Kessler single-handedly led the Titans to wins over CSU Bakersfield, Houston and No. 17 Utah. Rippy, a senior, put on a marvelous hitting display in a doubleheader against the Roadrunners by collecting seven hits, six RBIs and the go-ahead two-run single in game two. Meanwhile, Gonzalez helped the Titans run-rule the Cougars at home on Thursday with a two-run bomb and collected two RBI doubles on Sunday against No. 17 Utah & St. John's. Then, Kessler continued her dominance in the circle with two complete game shutouts (vs. Houston & No. 17 Utah), 27 strikeouts and a 2.58 ERA in 21-plus innings pitched.
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, No. 1/2 Florida, No. 20/20 Arizona State, No. 14/14 Michigan, CSUF, No. 8/7 UCLA, Fresno State, Long Beach State, No. 7/8 Washington, No. 23/18 California, Northwestern, No. 22/22 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.
RIPPY'S HOT BAT
Senior Delynn Rippy has been just what the doctor ordered for the Titans in the leadoff spot as she currently sits second in the conference with a .407 batting average. The outfielder collected an unbelievable 12 hits, 8 RBIs, 5 runs, 2 doubles and .480 batting in seven games last week while ripping the go-ahead two-run single in game two at CSU Bakersfield last Wednesday. With 22 hits now this season, Rippy leads the conference as she has emerged as one of the top leadoff hitters in the country.
TITANS IN THE BIG WEST
As a team, Cal State Fullerton has established its dominance in the Big West conference so far this season as the Titans currently lead the Big West in 17 statistical categories. Offensively, Fullerton leads the conference in batting average (.290), on-base percentage (.386), runs (70), hits (122), RBIs (64), doubles (22), total bases (161), walks (56), HBP (13), stolen bases (22) and sacrifice flies (5). The reason the Titans lead in so many hitting categories is because the Titans have the top-three hitters in the conference in Ariana Williams (.500), Delynn Rippy (.407) and Lexi Gonzalez (.405). Now when it comes to pitching Fullerton tops the conference in innings pitched (108), strikeouts looking (36), wins (8), saves (2), home run allowed (5) and also continues to carry a great fielding reputation with a fielding percentage of .972 so far this season. The Titans have had a fielding percentage of at least .970 or higher in three of the past four seasons, thanks to defensive specialist and associate head coach Jorge Araujo who has continued to make the Fullerton field one of the best in the country on a yearly basis.
LEXI'S TIME TO SHINE
Senior Lexi Gonzalez continues to make pitchers pay in the three-spot as she currently sits third in the Big West with a .405 batting average and second in RBIs with 13. The catcher has crushed the ball as of late however by sending two over the fence last week to have a conference leading 3 home runs. Gonzalez is currently first in the conference in slugging percentage (.811), on-base percentage (.566), doubles (6), walks (12) and total bases (30). The senior also lead the Titans to an upset win over No. 17 Utah on Saturday at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic when she ripped a double to left to bring in Samantha Vandiver from first on what was the only run of the game and a 1-0 victory for Fullerton.
KESSLER'S CONTINUED EMERGENCE
Senior Kelsey Kessler has been outstanding in the circle over the past two weeks. The pitcher had a strong showing this week for the Titans with two complete game shutouts against Houston and No. 17 Utah. Kessler posted 27 strikeouts and finished the week with a 2.58 ERA while leading the Titans to two shutout wins, including a 1-0 victory over the No. 17 Utes. The Blue Springs, Mo., native was also named Big West Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 20. Currently, Kessler leads the conference with 5 wins and is second in strikeouts (54) and strikeouts looking (18) while being third in innings pitched (48.1) and fourth in ERA (2.17).
THREE TITANS EARN ALL-TOURNEY
Titans Kelsey Kessler, Trish Parks and Delynn Rippy all earned All-Tournament team honors at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge. Kessler had two marvelous starts at the tournament as she only surrendered one earned run and had 13 strikeouts. Parks threw six scoreless frames against Florida Gulf Coast while also doing same damage with the bat as she tripled (vs. Texas Tech) and hit a two-RBI double (vs. Fresno State). Rippy was the spark plug the Titans needed in Mexico as she moved to the top of the lineup after the loss to Texas Tech and finished the tourney with six hits, four runs, two RBIs and .333 batting average.
THE ROAD TO 150
Since taking the helm in 2013, coach Kelly Ford has finished .500 or better in each of her four seasons with the Titans. Ford currently sits two wins away from reaching 150 career victories at Fullerton with 148. 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.
TITANS NAMED BIG WEST FAVORITE
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.
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.
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.
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.
Entering the fifth inning, Fullerton trailed No. 21 Fresno State 9-1 and was in danger of getting run-ruled by the Bulldogs, but the Titans had other ideas. Senior Lexi Gonzalez scored Delynn Rippy on a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 9-2, giving the Titans life for another half-inning. However, with two outs Fullerton kept the momentum going with an RBI single and RBI double from freshmen Zoe Richard and Irieanna Siofele. Next, freshman Emily Randall drew a walk and the Titans reeled off another RBI double and three-straight RBI singles to cut the lead to 9-8 with runners on the corners. Trish Parks stepped up to the plate and laced a double down the left field line that plated Samantha Vandiver and Rippy and put the Titans on top of the Bulldogs, 10-9. The improbable nine-run fifth last 30 minutes and the Titans scored eight of the nine runs with two outs in the innings.
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.
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.
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 with nine conference titles in program history. The Titans will have a chance to enter double digits with another Big West title this season.
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 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.).
Coach Ford knew this year's freshman class was something special and they've lived up to expectations so far. First basemen Zoe Richard has started in 10 games this season and already has 7 RBIs, which is fourth-most on the team. Pitcher Sophie Frost has stepped into a relief role for the Titans and collected her first save of the season vs. Texas Tech on Feb. 18. Kelsie Whitmore and Arianna Burns have also made some impact in the outfield. Whitmore has provided the outfield with a cannon arm in both center and right while Burns has proven herself with the bat as she had her second two-hit game of the year against Louisville on Saturday.
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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