FULLERTON, Calif. – Cerissa Rivera tied her career-high with eight strikeouts, but the Cal State Fullerton softball team left eight runners on base as the Titans dropped a 3-2 decision to Wisconsin on Friday night at the Judi Garman Classic.
Rivera (0-1), who made just her second start of the season for Cal State Fullerton (11-7), allowed a solo home run in the first inning, then shut the Wisconsin (8-7) offense down as she retired the next 10-of-11 batters between the first and fourth innings.
In the fourth, the Badgers broke through again after Rivera walked the leadoff batter, Kelsey Jenkins who was responsible for the solo shot in the first. The base on balls came back to haunt the Titans as Jenkins stole second and came around to score on a double to the left-centerfield gap to go up 2-0.
Taylor-Paige Stewart (5-4) was the starter for the Badgers and did a solid job in the circle holding the Titans scoreless until the sixth inning. In the first five frames, she pitched herself out of a few jams and relied on a stout defense to keep the Titans off the board.
Trailing by two runs, Cal State Fullerton took advantage of a fielding error at shortstop as Sarah Moore reached first on the miscue. A double by Melissa Sechrest – her second of the game – put runners at second and third with no one out for junior catcher Alexis Gonzalez.
Although the Titans had been in the same situation two innings prior and were unable to capitalize, Fullerton was determined to get on the board this time around. Gonzalez doubled down the left field line as Moore and Sechrest evened the score at 2-all.
With Gonzalez at second and no one out, Stewart managed to get out of the frame after allowing a walk to pinch hitter Mikaela Francis.
Rivera came back out in the seventh and collected her eighth strikeout, which tied her career-high, to register the first out of the frame. With one out and the game tied Wisconsin first baseman Sara Novak came up and belted a solo home run to straight away centerfield to give the Badgers back the lead. Following the homer, Sydney Golden came on in relief and retired the next two batters.
Down to their final three outs of the game, the Titans sent Missy Taukeiaho, Courtney Rodriguez and Moore to the plate. Despite their efforts, the Titans were unable to mount a comeback as Stewart got a 1-2-3 inning to end the game.
Stewart earned the win after tossing a complete game and allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits, while striking out five and walking three.
Rivera was the hard-luck loser after pitching 6.1 innings of work and giving up three runs on four hits with eight strikeouts and just one walk.
Gonzalez finished the game batting 1-for-2 with two RBIs, while Sechrest was 2-for-2 with two doubles, a run scored and a walk.
Cal State Fullerton will look to get back in the win column Saturday, March 5 against Northwestern at 5 p.m., on the third day of the Judi Garman Classic. Live stats, video and audio will be available on FullertonTitans.com.