Fullerton Travels to UC Davis for Weekend Road Series

Fullerton Travels to UC Davis for Weekend Road Series

Game Notes

Cal State Fullerton will travel to UC Davis this weekend for a three-game Big West series on Friday and Saturday.

This week, the Titans continue Big West Conference play against the UC Davis Aggies in a three-game series on Friday and Saturday at the La Rue Field at UC Davis. Last year, the Titans defeated the Aggies in conference play with a sweep at the Anderson Family Field. Overall, the Titans are 22-11 with the Aggies and are 14-10 in Big West. 

Friday, April 14
Cal State Fullerton at UC Davis, 3 p.m.

Saturday, April 15
Cal State Fullerton at UC Davis, 12 p.m.
Cal State Fullerton at UC Davis, 2 p.m.

Last week, Fullerton hosted Cal Poly on Saturday and Sunday for the first home three-game series of Big West Conference play. The Titans had a doubleheader split on Satuday, but lost the third game on Sunday to the Mustangs. Pitcher Cerissa Rivera had an outstanding game in game two of the series on Saturday as she pitched a no-hitter for seven innings. Kelsey Kessler also hit 100 strikeouts on the season.

Leading off at the top of the lineup has been Delynn Rippy and Samantha Vandiver. Together they have been the offensive one, two punch against every team faced. Rippy currently sits second in the Big West for 47 hits and 133 at-bats with 20 in conference. Samantha Vandiver is the second batter in the lineup and continues to dominate at the plate. She has a current batting average of .321 and is close behind Rippy with 112 at-bats. In the past three games, she's had three hits and one RBI. Overall as the one, two punch package off the top of the lineup, Rippy and Vandiver have 40 runs, 83 hits and 20 RBIs.

In the first game against Cal Poly, pitcher Cerissa Rivera dominated the game by pitching all eight innings of the first game of the series and had a no hitter all throughout the first seven innings. The two-time Big West Player of the Week had her first earned run in last five games that she's pitched. Rivera totaled six strikeouts for the weekend and overall has 24 strikeouts for the past four consecutive games. Rivera sits second in the Big West with an ERA of 1.45.

This past weekend, Lexi Gonzalez surpassed 100 at-bats. She currently resides fifth on the Big West list for 28 RBIs. Gonzalez also leads the team with eight doubles with one in conference, following close behind her is Delynn Rippy with five doubles on the season. With five home runs so far this season, Gonzalez sits ninth on the list for Big West. Over the weekend against Cal Poly, Gonzalez had two hits and one RBI. She has the highest on base percentage on the team with .411 and the highest slugging percentage with .523. 

Ariana Williams has made an impact with the bat as she smashed two home runs at San Diego. The Titan is at the top of the list for hitting .357 and also is sixth in the Big West. Shianne Brannan was a key player in game one of the three games series against Texas. Brannan hit her first home run to start the lead for the Titans in the fourth inning. Gonzalez is the tops the list for the most home runs on the team with five home runs, two of the home runs were against Loyola Marymount College. 

Buzz has been surrounding freshman Kelsie Whitmore lately. The outfielder made history in the summer of 2016 when she signed to the Sonoma Stompers as one of the first women to sign with professional baseball. The Big West Conference featured a video segment on her this week about her first professional start, playing softball for Fullerton and how she plans on to continue with the Sonoma Stompers this summer. Check out the video at BigWest.org.

Senior Kelsey Kessler has been outstanding in the circle so far this season. The Titans pitcher had an incredible showing this past weekend against Cal Poly. She currently sits fourth in the Big West for innings pitched and she totaled 14.2 innings against Cal Poly this weekend with 12 strikeouts. Kessler also hit the century mark in strikeouts for the season and currently sits with 106. Kessler has totaled 11 wins, which is fourth most in the Big West. 

The Titans hosted their second Big West Conference play with a 1-2 series loss over the Cal Poly Mustangs. The Titans will travel to UC Davis (17-21) this Friday and Saturday at the La Rue Field for their third Big West Conference series. The next home series will be on April 21 and 22 against Hawai'i. 

After winning its first conference title in 10 years last season, the Cal State Fullerton softball program was chosen to repeat as champions of the Big West in the Big West Preseason Poll, the conference announced on Feb. 1. The Titans received 57 total points and earned four first-place votes to lead the conference and take the top spot in the poll. Fullerton is coming off a remarkable 2016 campaign, finishing the year with a record of 45-16, the most wins recorded in a season since 2002. To complete the conference preseason poll, Long Beach State received three first place votes (55 points) to finish second, CSUN collected 49 points to placed third and Cal Poly placed fourth while receiving a first-place vote (40 points), the only other team to do so. Hawaii (30 points), UC Santa Barbara (27 points), UC Riverside (17 points) and UC Davis (13 points) round out the bottom half of the poll.

Titans Kelsey Kessler, Trish Parks and Delynn Rippy all earned All-Tournament team honors at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge. Kessler had two marvelous starts at the tournament as she only surrendered one earned run and had 13 strikeouts. Parks threw six scoreless frames against Florida Gulf Coast while also doing same damage with the bat as she tripled (vs. Texas Tech) and hit a two-RBI double (vs. Fresno State). Rippy was the spark plug the Titans needed in Mexico as she moved to the top of the lineup after the loss to Texas Tech and finished the tourney with six hits, four runs, two RBIs and .333 batting average. 

Since 2013, the Titans have put up a fielding percentage of .970 percent or higher in three of the past four seasons, including setting a program record in 2015 when they finished the year with a fielding percentage of .975. The main reason for the rise defensively over the past four seasons has been the strategy of associate head coach Jorge Araujo. The Cal Poly Pomona graduate serves as the defensive specialist for the Titans and has helped make Fullerton one of the best fielding teams in the country. 

Coach Ford and the Titan coaching staff like to take care of business in their home recruiting state of California as 24-of-26 players on this year's squad call the Golden State home. The only Fullerton players from outside the state of California are senior Kelsey Kessler (Blue Springs, Mo.) & freshman Sophie Frost (Mill Creek, Wash.). 

Entering the fifth inning, Fullerton trailed No. 21 Fresno State 9-1 and was in danger of getting run-ruled by the Bulldogs, but the Titans had other ideas. Senior Lexi Gonzalez scored Delynn Rippy on a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 9-2, giving the Titans life for another half-inning. However, with two outs Fullerton kept the momentum going with an RBI single and RBI double from freshmen Zoe Richard and Irieanna Siofele. Next, freshman Emily Randall drew a walk and the Titans reeled off another RBI double and three-straight RBI singles to cut the lead to 9-8 with runners on the corners. Trish Parks stepped up to the plate and laced a double down the left field line that plated Samantha Vandiver and Rippy and put the Titans on top of the Bulldogs, 10-9. The improbable nine-run fifth last 30 minutes and the Titans scored eight of the nine runs with two outs in the innings. 

Coach Ford added pitching coach Tori Tyson to the coaching staff in 2016 and she made quite the first impression. Her pitching staff put up video game-like numbers in 2016 by posting a 2.22 team ERA (best since 2007), 23 complete games and 13 shutouts (most since 2007) in 410 innings pitched. Titans pitchers Sydney Golden and Desiree Ybarra benefited mightily from having Tyson as their coach with Golden being named Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year and Ybarra earning the Big West Pitcher of the Year award. Look for Tyson's impact on the pitching staff to continue to flourish this season.

In September, the Cal State Fullerton softball program received its second Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association All-Sports Trophy, which goes to the top Division I institutions that do no sponsor football. Fullerton becomes only the 11th softball program with multiple DI-AAA ADA All-Sports trophies after collecting its first back in 2009. The Titans had quite the year in 2016 as coach Ford led her squad to its first conference title in ten years, 26th NCAA appearance and 45 victories which is the most since 2002.

After finishing 17-4 in conference play last season, the Titans earned their first Big West title since 2006. The 2016 crown put Fullerton softball back atop the Big West with nine conference titles in program history. The Titans will have a chance to enter double digits with another Big West title this season. 

Fullerton softball welcomed four new Titans to the program during the early signing period in November. The first additions to the 2017 recruiting class include Jody Cova (3B/C), Taylor Dockins (P/1B), Hannah Johnson (P/1B/OF) and Samantha Kennedy (2B/SS). Cova provides a power-bat to next year's squad as she hails from up North in Orangevale, Calif., where she earned All-Capital Athletic League honors three times. Kennedy hails from Anaheim, Calif., where she received multiple accolades during her time at Savanna High School. Her brother, AJ Kennedy, spent three seasons with Titan baseball before being drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2015. Dockins comes to Fullerton with quite a resume as she earned multiple league, region and state honors while also helping Norco High School win the CIF-SS Championship as a sophomore. The Norco, Calif., native also was named a Max Preps Junior All-American and provides a dual threat as she has a powerful bat and is one of the best pitchers in CIF. Lastly, Johnson provides versatility for the Titans as she played multiple positions at La Habra High School, but coach Ford sees her making the biggest impact in the circle.  She's earned numerous accolades during her high school career and has wanted to be a Titan since she was little. 

Coach Ford knew this year's freshman class was something special and they've lived up to expectations so far. First basemen Zoe Richard has started in 11 games this season and already has 10 RBIs. Pitcher Sophie Frost has stepped into a relief role for the Titans and collected her first save of the season vs. Texas Tech on Feb. 18. Kelsie Whitmore and Arianna Burns have also made some impact in the outfield. Whitmore has provided the outfield with a cannon arm in both center and right while Burns has proven herself with the bat as she had her second two-hit game of the year against Louisville on Saturday.
Since taking the helm in 2013, coach Kelly Ford has finished .500 or better in each of her four seasons with the Titans. Ford bypassed 150 this past weekend during the Long Beach State/Cal State Fullerton Tournament with152 career victories.  Last season, Ford led the Titans to 45 wins, which is the most since former Titan head coach Michelle Gromacki led her 2002 squad to 53 victories.

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