FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton softball team opened Big West Conference action with a pair of wins over UC Riverside as the Titans got another complete-game effort from Desiree Ybarra in game one to defeat the Highlanders 9-1 in six innings, before edging UCR 2-1 in the nightcap.
With the pair of wins, the Titans improve to 27-10 overall and 2-0 in Big West Conference action, while the Highlanders drop to 23-11-1 on the year and 0-2 in league play.
"I'm so happy for this team," Cal State Fullerton head coach Kelly Ford said. "Their hard work has paid off and it's been fun to see that happen. There are always high expectations on the opening day of conference. We played some good softball today and did a good job of approaching it just one pitch at a time."
Game 1: Cal State Fullerton 9, UC Riverside 1 (6 innings)
Ybarra got the starting nod for the Titans in the conference opener and was solid once again in the circle. The senior left-hander pitched all 6.0 innings and allowed just one run on five hits, while striking out seven and walking one.
Additionally, Ybarra received a lot of run support from her offense as the Titans got started early on a solo shot by Missy Taukeiaho in the bottom of the first. The homer marked the fourth of the year for the senior third baseman and gave Fullerton a 1-0 advantage.
The only run Ybarra surrendered came in the third when the Highlanders' scored on a single to leftfield which drove in Madeline Richard who reached on a two-out double. The run in the top of the third evened the score, but the Titans were quick to counter as they regained the lead on a two-run home run off the bat of Alexis Gonzalez in the bottom of the inning.
Cal State Fullerton added to its two-run lead in the fourth with another two runs as the Titans jumped out in front 5-1.
UC Riverside pulled its starting pitcher, Tayler Misfeldt, after 4.0 innings and brought in Kaylynn Pierce to finish the game. Misfeldt would suffer the loss and drop to 14-6 on the season after surrendering five runs, three of which were earned, on six hits, while walking three and fanning two.
The Titans held their four-run lead going into the sixth at which point they plated four more runs to force a run-rule as they went on to defeat the Highlanders 9-1.
The four runs in the sixth came courtesy of three hits, two sacrifice flies and a walk. Delynn Rippy led off the inning with a base on balls and Samantha Vandiver put runners on first and second after an infield single. Taukeiaho roped an RBI-double to left-center to make it a 6-1 ballgame, before Gonzalez drove in Vandiver on a sac fly. A triple by Sarah Moore – her second of the game – plated Taukeiaho as the Titans went up 8-1. A sacrifice fly by Melissa Sechrest scored Moore as the Titans ended the game in walk-off fashion after six innings.
Ybarra earned the win and improved to 8-5 on the year.
Taukeiaho finished the game batting 2-for-2 with two walks, a double, a home run, three runs scored and two RBIs. Moore went 3-for-4 with two triples, a run scored and an RBI.
Game 2: Cal State Fullerton 2, UC Riverside 1
The Titans struck early in the nightcap as they plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the first to give starting pitcher Sydney Golden a two-run cushion to work with.
Vandiver got things going as she led off the frame with an infield single and came around to score on a double to right-centerfield by Taukeiaho. Gonzalez laid down a bunt to move Taukeiaho to third and with two outs, a UCR error by starting pitcher Misfeldt brought home Taukeiaho to give CSF a 2-0 advantage.
Golden kept the Highlanders off the board until the fourth inning when Jenna Curtan laced a two-out double to the right-centerfield gap and came around to score on an error.
Following the unearned run, Golden continued to shut down the Highlanders in her first game since March 18. She tossed 6.0 innings of work and allowed just the one unearned run on five hits, while striking out four to earn her 11th win of the season.
Ybarra came on in the seventh and struck out the side to earn her first save of the year.
Offensively, the Titans recorded seven hits and Vandiver was the only one to record a multi-hit game with a pair of singles. She went 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Taukeiaho was 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
Misfeldt (14-7) was tagged with the loss – her second of the day – after pitching 6.0 innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside close out the three-game series Sunday, April 3. First pitch is set for 12 noon.