Titans Travel to No.13 UCLA in Midweek, Host Hawai’i

Titans Travel to No.13 UCLA in Midweek, Host Hawai’i

Game Notes

FULLERTON, Calif.- The Titans will travel to UCLA on Tuesday for a midweek game at 7 p.m. against the Bruins. Fullerton will continue conference action and host Hawai'i for a 6 p.m. game on Friday, April 21 and a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 22.

The Titans went head to head with the Bruins earlier this season during the Judy Garman Classic and fell 2-0. Fullerton will continue their Big West Conference action by hosting Hawai'i on Friday for game one of the series, with a doubleheader on Saturday. Last season, the Titans swept Hawai'i in a three-game series at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. The Titans overall record against Hawai'i is 54-14 and 43-10 in the Big West. 

Tuesday, April 18
Cal State Fullerton at UCLA, 7 p.m.

Friday, April 21
Hawai'i at CSUF, 6 p.m.

Saturday, April 22
Hawai'i at CSUF, 2 p.m.
Hawai'i at CSUF, 4 p.m.

Last week, Fullerton traveled to UC Davis for their third Big West Conference series. The Titans (6-3) defeated the Aggies (2-7) with a sweep to advance to the second-place slot in the Big West. In the second game of the series, Kylie Padilla homered to kick off the doubleheader and Lexi Gonzalez totaled five hits with 3 RBIs for the weekend.

Sydney Golden earned two wins over the weekend against UC Davis. In the first game, Golden had zero runs on zero hits and five solid strikeouts in two innings. In game three of the series, Golden received her fourth win with five runs on seven hits, three earned, and had three strikeouts in seven innings of play. Pitcher Cerissa Rivera dominated the Cal Poly series by pitching all eight innings of the first game 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 against Cal Poly and overall has 24 strikeouts for the past four consecutive games. Rivera sits fifth in the Big West with an ERA of 1.94.

Leading off at the top of the lineup for the Titans has been Delynn Rippy and Samantha Vandiver. Together they have been the offensive one, two punch against every team faced. Rippy currently sits third in the Big West for 51 hits and second with 143 at-bats. Samantha Vandiver is the second batter in the lineup and continues to dominate at the plate. She increased her batting average over the weekend to .322 and is close behind Rippy with 121 at-bats with 27 in conference. In the first game against UC Davis, Vandiver went three for four at-bat and had one run. Overall as the one, two punch package off the top of the lineup, Rippy and Vandiver have delivered 45 runs, 90 hits and 20 RBIs.

Kylie Padilla slammed her first home run of the season in the start of the second game against UC Davis to open the momentum offensively for the Titans. The starting catcher has become more of a threat at the dish during the conference series against UC Davis with totaling one run on three hits and 3 RBIs. Padilla also increased her average to .236 and a slugging percentage of .319.

Lexi Gonzalez continues to be an offensive threat for the Titans in conference. Gonzalez currently sits third on the Big West list for 31 RBIs and ninth for 62 total bases. She has made 146 plate appearances so far this season. Against UC Davis, Gonzalez went five for 11 at-bat and had three runs and three RBIs. 

Buzz has been swirling around freshman Kelsie Whitmore lately on and off the field. 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. During the week, a film crew came to the Anderson Family Field to film Whitmore and Coach Ford for a documentary about playing baseball and softball. The Big West Conference also featured a video segment on Whitmore last week about her first professional start and how she plans on to continue with the Sonoma Stompers this summer.

The Titans played in their third Big West Conference series with a 2-1 series win over the UC Davis Aggies putting the Titans in second place in the Big West Conference. With the wins, the Titans improve to 23-18 and 6-3 in the Big West, while the Aggies drop to 17-24 overall and 2-7 in league play. Long Beach State sits above the Titans with a record of 7-2 in Big West and 19-20-1 overall. 

Over the weekend, Ariana Williams impressed by smacking an immediate triple for two RBIs to assist the Titans for the 3-2 win in game one against UC Davis. In the fifth inning of the game, Williams was a threat at the plate again with a single up the middle to get on base and then stole second. Lexi Gonzalez batted in Williams for the Titans' fifth run with a single down the middle. Total for the weekend, Williams collected five runs with three hits, and three RBIs. She is fifth in the Big West with an average of .359 and seventh with an on base percentage of .418. 

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 played 30 games this season and already has 13 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.

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 during the Long Beach State/Cal State Fullerton Tournament with 152 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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