Los Angeles – Sunday's Championship Regional softball game against UCLA was the end of the road for Cal State Fullerton as the Bruins used three big home runs to sink the Titans, 9-1, and advance to next weekend's Super Regional against Ole Miss at Easton Stadium.
The Big West Conference champion Titans end the year with an overall record of 35-23, finishing 2-2 in the Los Angeles Regional for the second season in a row.
Madeline Jelenicki's two-run homer in the first was all the Bruins (45-13) would need to hand Titan starter Kelsey Kessler (20-9) the loss, but two more long balls in UCLA's five-run fifth would prove far too costly. The Titan right-hander was on a run of 3.1 hitless innings when she ran into the Bruin buzz saw in the top of the fifth. Five straight hits including a Paige Halstead solo home run and a Brianna Tautalafua grand slam blew the game wide open and made it 7-1.
Overall, Kessler was touched for all seven earned runs on seven hits over four innings of work before giving way to Sydney Golden. Golden allowed just three hits over the final three innings and was in the circle for a pair of unearned runs in the top of the seventh.
Offensively the Titans couldn't get much going against Bruin pitcher Rachel Garcia (20-7). They rallied for a run on three hits in the first inning with Zoe Richard picking up the RBI with a knock to right-center field and then threatened by loading the bases in the third, but got nothing out of it as Garcia logged her third of nine strikeouts to end the inning.
The Bruin pitcher was lights out over the last four innings, allowing just one Titan hit (a Sydney Colenzo double in the seventh) over the last 14 batters she faced.
Overall, the Titans hit .281 as a team in the four-game postseason. Richard (.417) and Ari Williams (.357) led the way with five tournament hits and three RBI each. Sydney Colenzo (.500), Emily Randall (.400), Lexi Gonzalez (.308) and Delynn Rippy (.250) each added four hits apiece. Rippy belted the only Titan home run. It was just the second of her Titan career.
Golden was 1-0 on the mound and posted a 1.40 ERA in 10 innings of work. Carissa Rivera surrendered just three hits in 3.1 innings of work. Kessler was 1-2 with a 6.68 ERA over 14 innings.