Big Innings Lift Titans to NCAA Berth, Share of Big West Trophy
May 12, 2006
FULLERTON, CA - The Cal State Fullerton softball team clinched at least a share of the 2006 Big West Conference Championship and, coupled with a doubleheader split by Long Beach State at UC Santa Barbara, earned the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament with a sweep of UC Riverside on Friday night at Anderson Field by the scores of 5-0 and 3-2.
With the victories, the Titans (35-22, 13-4 in the Big West) moved one game ahead of the 49ers (29-20, 12-5) with Saturday's regular season finale remaining. Fullerton needs a win or a Long Beach State loss to clinch the title outright - its fifth in the last seven seasons.
The Titans also clinched the Big West's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament as they hold the tiebreaker with the 49ers should the two end up tied by virtue of taking two-of-three from Long Beach State earlier in the year.
UC Riverside fell to 22-26 overall, 2-15 in league play.
Sophomore Crystal Vieyra was Fullerton's offensive heroine on the night, going 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored and the deciding three-run home run in game two.
The regular season finale between the two teams will be held on Sunday afternoon (May 13) at 12 p.m. at Anderson Field. The Titans' four departing seniors will be honored in a pregame ceremony prior to first pitch.
GAME 1: CAL STATE FULLERTON 5, UC RIVERSIDE 0
The Titans sent nine batters to the plate in a five-run third inning while senior Marissa Marzan and junior Brooke Weekley combined on a three-hit shutout as Cal State Fullerton won the opener of a doubleheader with UC Riverside, 5-0.
Marzan (11-8) struck out five and allowed three hits through six innings of work to earn the victory while Weekley pitched a perfect seventh inning to seal the victory.
Stephanie Marshall (13-12) suffered the loss, allowing five runs (only two earned) on five hits, walking three.
Sophomore Katie Gollhardt had the big hit to start the big inning for the Titans, slugging her ninth home run of the year with two runners on for the quick 3-0 lead.
After consecutive hits by Ashley Van Boxmeer, Kiki Munoz, and Crystal Vieyra, senior Ashlee Weatherford drove home two more runs as her bloop single fell underneath the glove of the sliding centerfielder, allowing Vieyra and Munoz to touch home for the 5-0 advantage.
The Titans then allowed only threebaserunners the rest of the way, setting the Highlanders down in order in the fourth and seventh innings en route to the win.
Vieyra led all players at the plate with her 2-for-2 effort while four other Fullerton players had hits.
GAME 2: CAL STATE FULLERTON 3, UC RIVERSIDE 2
Cal State Fullerton sophomore Crystal Vieyra slugged her sixth home run of the season - a three-run shot to give the Titans the lead for good - and junior Candice Baker struck out 11 as Fullerton held on for a 3-2 victory in the nightcap.
Baker (21-9) went five innings, allowing one run on four hits without a walk while also tallying her Big West-leading ninth double-digit strikeout performance of the season.
Senior Marissa Marzan earned the second save of her career (and the Titans' first of the season) as she tossed the final two innings, allowing a run on two hits with two strikeouts.
Christin Songer (7-7) suffered the loss despite not allowing an earned run, scattering three hits and striking out four.
UC Riverside jumped out early in the fourth as slugger Melissa Sanchez blasted took the first offering from Baker deep over the fence in dead centerfield for the 1-0 lead.
Fullerton responded with a big fly of its own in its half of the fourth as Ashley Van Boxmeer reached on a fielding error by the Riverside pitcher and moved to second on a single through the left side by Kiki Munoz - the Titans' first hit of the game.
After Van Boxmeer was erased at third on a fielder's choice, Vieyra sent the first pitch she saw from Songer over the fence in left centerfield, giving the Titans the 3-1 advantage.
The Highlanders didn't go quietly however, mounting a rally in the sixth. A walk to Sanchez and a single by Kristie Martinez put a pair on for Cassie Greenawalt, who struck out for the first out of the inning.
She was followed by Jennifer Thompson, who drew a four pitch walk to load the bases and brought Jessica Black to the plate. Black then looped a ball to center that fell between three Titan defenders, allowing pinch-runner Veronica Yee to score and make it 3-2.
Marzan, however, protected that slim lead, inducing Danira Iolamo to pop up on the infield and striking out pinch-hitter Katie Curtis for the final out and leave the bases loaded.
Marzan then set the side down in the seventh to clinch the victory.
Three different Titans had hits in the game as Courtney Martinez added a bunt single in the fifth to join Vieyra and Munoz.
Six different players accounted for the six hits by the Highlanders' offense.