Titans Close out Regular Season With UC Santa Barbara

Titans Close out Regular Season With UC Santa Barbara

Game Notes

FULLERTON, Calif.- The Titans will travel to UC Santa Barbara on Friday and Saturday for their final Big West Conference series at the Campus Diamond. The game on Friday starts at 3 p.m. and the doubleheader on Saturday starts at 1 p.m. with the second game at 3 p.m.

The Titans will finish Big West Conference action and travel to UC Santa Barbara for an afternoon game on Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday. Last year, the Titans hosted the Gauchos at the Anderson Family Field and took the series 2-1.  

Friday, May 12
CSF at UC Santa Barbara, 3 p.m.

Saturday, May 13
CSF at UC Santa Barbara, 1 p.m.
CSF at UC Santa Barbara, 3 p.m.

Last week, Cal State Fullerton hosted CSUN for their sixth Big West Conference series. The Titans (15-3) defeated the Matadors (9-9) with a sweep to clinch the 2017 Big West Championship. Lexi Gonzalez hit two home runs during the series and pitcher Kelsey Kessler earned her third straight Pitcher of the Week award. 

Over the weekend, the Titans clinched their tenth 2017 Big West Conference Championship with the sweep over CSUN. Now, the Titans will go to NCAA Regionals with an automatic bid. Last year, the Titans captured their ninth Big West title at CSUN and secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. The Cal State Fullerton softball program has made 26 NCAA postseason appearances and reached the peak of the sport six times-winning the NCAA National Championship in 1986. The last time the Titans had back-to-back Big West Championship titles was in 2000-2003.

This week, Kelsey Kessler won her third straight Big West Pitcher of the Week award after pitching a pair of wins against CSUN. This is her fourth Pitcher of the Week honor on the season. The last time the Titan's had a three-peat of the Big West Pitcher of the Week Awards was with Gina Oaks in 2002. Kessler tossed a complete game in a 10-inning, 5-3 triumph over CSUN in game one of the series. Kessler allowed eight hits and three runs, only two earned, while striking out nine. She had a streak of 32 consecutive scoreless innings come to an end in game one in the second inning. In game two, she earned the win as the relief, improving to 19-6 overall.

Lexi Gonzalez continues to be the power hitter of the team and has proved to be the catalyst for rallying the Titans. She tops the Big West list with 39 RBIs and improves to third with 10 home runs. In game one of the doubleheader, the Titans opened the action in the top of the second inning when Lexi Gonzalez and Shianne Brannan had back-to-back home runs to take the lead 2-0. Lexi Gonzalez opened game two with a home run in the first inning, bringing in Delynn Rippy.

The Titans finished their sixth Big West series with a 3-0 series sweep over the CSUN Matadors, clinching the first place title in the conference. With the wins, Cal State Fullerton improves to 32-19 and 15-3, while the Matadors drop to 29-21 overall and 9-9 in league play. The Titans are fresh off a nine-game winning streak and look forward to compete with UCSB (29-25, 9-9) in the next Big West series at Campus Diamond this weekend. The Titans lead the conference in pitching with 219 strikeouts and are third in the league with 369 hits and 24 home runs.

The back-to-back Big West Conference Softball Champions will be hosting the NCAA Softball Selection Show at Roscoe's Famous Deli in Downtown Fullerton on Sunday, May 14 at 5:30 p.m. Please come join the team and the Titan community as we come together and celebrate the team's success. In addition to finding out where the team will play in NCAA Regionals, we'll recognize our seniors, honor our moms, and host a silent auction!

The California Community College Coaches Association has selected Head Coach Kelly Ford to be inducted into the 2017 California Community College Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Prior to her arrival at CSUF, Ford guided the Mount San Antonio softball program to four California State Championships and has earned seven South Coast Coach of the Year honors five times.

Associate Head Coach Jorge Araujo was named a finalist for the Rising Star Award from One Dream Zero Distraction Management. The 2017 One Dream Awards will be held in Las Vegas, Nev. on Saturday, December 9, 2017. Jorge Araujo is in his fifth season with the Titans and his first as the associate head coach on the Cal State Fullerton softball staff in 2016-17, where he continues to be the recruiting coordinator and defensive specialist for the team.  

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 40 games this season and started in 24 and already has 19 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 and also her second save against CSUN in game three. 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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