Cal State Fullerton Softball Dominates Big West Conference Awards

Cal State Fullerton Softball Dominates Big West Conference Awards

IRVINE, Calif. – Heading into its first NCAA Regional appearance since 2009, the Cal State Fullerton softball team was awarded four of the six major Big West Conference awards as the Titans dominated the yearly all-conference honors.

Seniors Missy Taukeiaho and Desiree Ybarra took home Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, while Sydney Golden was named Freshman Pitcher of the Year and head coach Kelly Ford took home Coach of the Year accolades.

In addition to claiming two-thirds of the major awards, the Titans also had five Big West First Team selections in Golden, Taukeiaho, Ybarra, Alexis Gonzalez and Delynn Rippy. Cal State Fullerton also garnered three second team selections in Kylie Padilla, Courtney Rodriguez and Melissa Sechrest, while Samantha Vandiver earned honorable mention and Golden also found her way onto the All-Freshman Team. 

Taukeiaho was named Big West Conference Player of the Year for the second time in her career as she previously earned the honors in 2014. The product out of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has done her job offensively with 12 multi-hit and multi-RBI games this season.

The senior third baseman ranks seventh in batting average (.358), second in on-base percentage (.488), second in slugging percentage (.673), third in homers (9) and fourth in RBIs (37). Taukeiaho leads the league in runs scored (49), doubles (22), walks (38) and is second in total bases with 109. 

In Big West Conference action, she hit .333 with five home runs, 20 RBIs, 22 runs scored, 16 walks and slugged an impressive .719.

While Taukeiaho has been an offensive threat this season, she has also been exceptional defensively as well. She committed just three errors in 64 chances, while turning four double plays. 

Ybarra, a fifth year senior, saved her best year for last as she helped Cal State Fullerton capture the league title with strong leadership in the circle. She earned her first-ever Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year award and the first for the Titans since 2003 after finishing the regular season with a 15-6 record.

The southpaw out of Riverside, Calif., posted a 1.80 ERA over 35 games, 24 of which were in a starting role. She logged 151.1 innings of work and struck out 133 batters while walking just 55. Ybarra allowed 49 runs, 39 of which were earned, and racked up 13 complete games.

Against Big West opponents, Ybarra was an impressive 8-1 in the circle with a 1.58 ERA in 62.0 innings pitched. She struck out 57 against just 14 walks, while picking up six complete games and one save.

Golden was magnificent in her rookie season as she collected Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors marking just the second time in program history a Titan has earned the honor.

The Riverside, Calif., native posted a 17-5 record as she ranked fourth in the league in wins and second in ERA with a 1.79 mark. Golden logged 71 strikeouts and walked just 21, while picking up two shutouts and nine complete games over 125.1 innings of work.

Golden's solid performance in the circle continued into conference action as she posted a 1.07 ERA in 59.0 innings against Big West opponents. She issued just eight walks and fanned 23 batters en route to notching a 7-2 league record. 

In just her fourth season at the helm of the Titans softball team, Ford earned her first Big West Conference Coach of the Year award. She is just the second Cal State Fullerton head coach to earn the honor as former skipper Michelle Gromacki was given the award in 2000 and 2006.

During the regular season, Ford guided the Titans to 43 wins marking the most victories for the program since 2003. Under her tutelage, Cal State Fullerton won 17 conference games which is the most since 2009 and clinched the Big West Conference title for the first time in a decade. 

Ford has done an exceptional job leading the Titans as she put together a competitive non-conference schedule that pitted Cal State Fullerton up against some of the top teams in the nation. Despite the talented competition, the Titans went 26-10 and collected wins over then-No. 13 Oklahoma, then-No. 17 Arizona State and then No. 23-Fresno State.

In addition to collecting Pitcher, Player and Freshman Pitcher of the Year, respectively, Ybarra, Taukeiaho and Golden also were selected to the Big West Conference First Team along with teammates Gonzalez and Rippy. 

Gonzalez saw action this season as both a catcher and as a designated player. She posted a .343 batting average after going 48-for-140 to rank third on the squad. The junior from Covina, Calif., leads the Titans with 44 RBIs, while adding 16 runs scored. She is tied for the team lead with nine home runs and has also contributed eight doubles.

Rippy leads the team with a .373 batting average after going 53-for-142 in the regular season. She has driven in 28 runs and scored 20 times. The junior out of Oceanside, Calif., leads the team and conference in triples with five and also ranks 15th in the nation. Rippy has also laced three doubles and belted one home run – the first of her collegiate career. 

The Titans saw three players selected to the Second Team in Padilla, Rodriguez and Sechrest.

This season, Padilla has seen action in 33 games and owns a .279 batting average. She has scored six runs and recorded four RBIs, while drawing four walks and recording a double. The catcher from Chino, Calif., has thrown four runners attempting to steal and owns a .982 fielding percentage. 

Rodriguez has started in 52 games in centerfield for the Titans and owns a .311 batting average. She has contributed to 40 runs this season with 22 runs scored and 18 runs batted in. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native has collected seven doubles, one triple, seven walks and is 14-for-18 on the base paths. Rodriguez has been flawless defensively posting a 1.000 fielding percentage and recording 54 putouts with two assists in 56 changes.

Sechrest, a senior first baseman, has started in 50 games this season and has posted a .296 batting average. She has driven in 31 runs and scored 19, while recording seven home runs and 14 doubles. The Peoria, Ariz., native has drawn 20 walks and has totaled 75 bases while owning a .556 slugging percentage. She has been solid on defense posting a .997 fielding percentage as she has logged 332 putouts and 19 assists with just one error in 352 chances. Additionally, Sechrest has been a part of 17 of the Titans' 19 double plays. 

Rounding out the Titans' yearly honors is Vandiver who earned an Honorable Mention selection. The sophomore leftfielder finished the regular season batting .332 in the leadoff position with 45 runs scored and 10 runs batted in. The product out of Huntington Beach, Calif., contributed seven doubles and one triple, while drawing 13 walks. She was 7-for-9 in stolen bases and committed just one error in the field for a .985 fielding percentage.


2016 Big West Softball All-Conference Team

First Team
Stephanie Heyward, Cal Poly
^Sierra Hyland, Cal Poly
Alexis Gonzalez, Cal State Fullerton

Sydney Golden, Cal State Fullerton

Delynn Rippy, Cal State Fullerton

*Missy Taukeiaho, Cal State Fullerton

Desiree Ybarra, Cal State Fullerton

*Taylor Glover, CSUN
^Samantha Horvath, CSUN
Daphne Pofek, CSUN
^Christina Clermont, Long Beach State
^Darian Tautalafua, Long Beach State
Jenna Curtan, UC Riverside
Madeline Richard, UC Riverside
Kristen Clark, UC Santa Barbara
Second Team
Kylie Padilla, Cal State Fullerton

Courtney Rodriguez, Cal State Fullerton

Melissa Sechrest, Cal State Fullerton

Karlie Habitz, CSUN
Julia Lombardi, Long Beach State
Alley Perkins, Long Beach State
Tayler Misfeldt, UC Riverside
Stephanie Tickemyer, UC Riverside
Sierra Altmeyer, UC Santa Barbara
Arianna Palomares, UC Santa Barbara
Samantha Stark, UC Santa Barbara
Keiki Carlos, Hawai'i
Brittany Hitchcock, Hawai'i
Honorable Mention
Lindsey Chalmers, Cal Poly
Breana West, Cal Poly
Samantha Vandiver, Cal State Fullerton

Katie Hooper, CSUN
Kelli Fenan, Long Beach State
Brianna Warner, UC Davis
Ashley Ludlow, UC Santa Barbara
Nicole Lopez, Hawai'i
All-Freshman Team
Sydney Golden, Cal State Fullerton

Mackenzie Babbitt, CSUN
Taylor Troost, CSUN
Kelli Finan, Long Beach State
Hannah Rodriguez, UC Riverside
Sierra Altmeyer, UC Santa Barbara
Veronika Gulvin, UC Santa Barbara
Melanie Menor, UC Santa Barbara
Nicole Lopez, Hawai'i
Sarah Muzik, Hawai'i
^ Two-time First Team All-Conference
* Three-time First Team All-Conference

2016 Player of the Year – Missy Taukeiaho, Cal State Fullerton

2016 Pitcher of the Year – Desiree Ybarra, Cal State Fullerton

2016 Coach of the Year – Kelly Ford, Cal State Fullerton

2016 Defensive Player of the Year – Karlie Habitz, CSUN

2016 Freshman Pitcher of the Year – Sydney Golden, Cal State Fullerton

2016 – Freshman Field Player of the Year – Nicole Lopez, Hawai'i


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