Titans Hang On to First; Split With Riverside

April 10, 2010

Box Score - Game 1 | Box Score - Game 2

FULLERTON, CA - The Cal State Fullerton softball team maintained its place atop the leaderboard in the Big West Conference play despite suffering its first loss of the league season, splitting a pair of one-run contests in a doubleheader with UC Riverside on Saturday afternoon at Anderson Family Field.

The split moved the Titans to a 9-28 and 4-1 in conference play, finishing the day one game ahead of UCR, Pacific, UC Davis, and Long Beach State - all at 3-2 (Cal Poly was leading UC Santa Barbara, 3-0, in game two of its doubleheader at press time and the Mustangs would also move to 3-2 with a victory).

The Highlanders moved to 18-20 overall and 3-2 in the conference after the split, missing out on a chance to move to the .500 mark overall on the year.

After exploding for 27 runs and 36 hits in last week's series with UC Santa Barbara, the Fullerton offense came back to Earth on Saturday, combining for just six runs on seven hits in the two games.

Early scoring put UCR out to stay in the opener, as the Highlanders scored all their runs in the first three innings, then held off a Titans' rally for the 5-4 win.

Taylor Thomas' RBI double in the first got the Highlanders on the board while Kameryn Hebenton slugged a two-run home run (her first career long ball) in the second and RBI hits by Alexis Pickett and a suicide squeeze from Brooke Hebenton in the third accounted for all the runs Riverside would need.

Fullerton answered UCR's first inning run with three of its own, taking advantage of a lapse on defense to plate three runs. The Titans loaded the bases without the benefit of a hit, drawing two walks and a hit batter with one out.

Junior K.C. Craddick then hit a weak grounder to first where the Highlanders got the first out before the return throw trying to turn the double play sailed into right field, allowing Nicole Johnson to score. The throw back to the plate to try and cut off Trina Harrison then sailed wide, allowing her to score and make it a 2-1 ballgame.

With Craddick now on second, senior Kadie Baldwin followed with a double to the gap in right centerfield making it a 3-1 ball game.

However, the Titan bats could not find an answer to Marissa Alvidrez (13-7) until the seventh, managing only one hit off the Highlanders' senior to enter the final inning trailing by a pair.

Fullerton's rally began with Krystal Heinle reaching on a dropped fly ball to the outfield and pinch-runner Adriana Martinez stole second to move into scoring position. After a groundout moved her to third, Torrie Anderson made it a one-run game with a double to the gap in right centerfield, closing the deficit to 5-4.

Alvidrez, however, worked away from any further damage, striking out the Ari Cervantes to end the game.

Cervantes (4-14) suffered the loss for the Titans, allowing five runs on 10 hits in the complete-game effort. Alvidrez allowed just two earned on three hits, striking out four while going the distance.

Three Highlanders finished with multiple hits in the opener, led by Pickett's 3-for-4 day. Kameryn Hebenton and Thomas also finished with two hits apiece.

In the nightcap, it was Heinle's turn to put on a showcase from the circle as the sophomore allowed just four hits and struck out four to nail down Fullerton's 2-1 victory.

The Titans had taken the early lead with single runs in the first two innings. Anderson drew a lead-off walk against starter Amy Lwin (1-8), stole second, and scored on Harrison's RBI single to right field in the opening frame. Heinle then helped her own cause in the second with a sacrifice fly that scored Craddick for the 2-0 advantage.

Heinle (3-6) carried a no-hitter into the fifth, facing just one batter over the minimum in that stretch. Brittany Keeney broke up the no-no with a smashed ground-ball double to left centerfield and scored on Pickett's ensuing double that made it a 2-1 game.

However, Heinle then locked down the Highlanders' bats, stranding the tying run at third base in both the fifth and sixth innings and retiring the side in order in the seventh to end the game.

Harrison led all players with two hits in game two for the Titans while Cervantes and Craddick each added a base hit.

The two teams return to the diamond for the rubber game of the series on Sunday afternoon (April 11) at 12 p.m.

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