FULLERTON, Calif. – It was another memorable and historic season for Cal State Fullerton in 2019 as they won their fourth consecutive Big West crown and made their 29th NCAA Regional appearance. Overall, the Titans finished the season with a 38-18 record going 18-3 in conference play.
The season began with a 4-1 performance in the Titan Classic on opening weekend. The Titans took the first two games against Idaho State and Buffalo before falling to Louisville. However, Fullerton would bounce back to win the final two games of the weekend against Utah State and Pacific. Of the four wins, three were walk-off victories for the Titans including an extra inning walk-off against Buffalo and freshman Evelyn Sablan launching her first career home run to secure the run-rule victory against Pacific.
Fullerton would head out of state on a two-game winning streak as the Titans took part in the Hillenbrand Invitational hosted by the University of Arizona. Fullerton opened up the weekend with a wild win over Illinois-Chicago where they scored 12 unanswered runs in the final three innings to win 12-8. They went on to beat New Mexico and South Florida in their next two games before falling to a pair of top 10 foes in Alabama and host Arizona. Senior Ari Williams and freshman Alexa Neil led the Titans over the weekend as both of them hit over .500 in the five games and went on to win Big West weekly awards.
The Titans took a quick break from tournament play hosting SDSU in a midweek game where they came out with a 5-1 victory over the Aztecs.
Fullerton would then go into arguably their toughest weekend of the season at the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City. Pitching shined in a day one split as the Titans fell 1-0 to No. 5 Washington before shutting out Bethune-Cookman. The Titans would fall in both games on Sunday being run-ruled by No. 4 Oklahoma and falling 2-1 to Cal.
Next up was the prestigious Judi Garman Classic where the field was stacked with ranked competition. The Titans would kick off the weekend with a walk-off victory over No. 20 Oregon and follow it up with a win over Connecticut. Game three was supposed to be against UTSA, but mother nature had other plans as rain cancelled the Saturday slate of games. Fullerton would fall in their rematch against No. 5 Washington before closing out the weekend with a historic game against New Mexico winning 19-1.
The 19 runs against the Lobos is the second most in a single-game in program history. The Titans drove in 18 of those runs breaking the previous record for most RBI in a single-game. They also tied the program record for most home runs (5) and walks (10) in a game. Freshman Daisy Munoz made her own history becoming the first Titan to ever hit two home runs in one inning. She went on to record seven RBI in the game, just one shy of the program record.
Fullerton would look to carry the momentum into Northern California for the Silicon Valley Classic II. After rain cancelled their first game of the weekend, the Titans would fall to Nevada before dominating the rest of the weekend as the pitching staff combined to not allow a single earned run over their next three games to close out the weekend. Taylor Dockins started the stretch with a complete game shutout over Weber State followed by a complete game shutout from Sophie Frost against Northern Kentucky. Dani Martinez would put the scoreless stretch to 20 consecutive innings with six shutout frames before Santa Clara scored an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh.
Houston would come to town for a midweek matchup before Fullerton's final tourney as the Titans fell to the Cougars in a 1-0 pitchers' duel. Frost suffered the tough luck loss throwing a complete game allowing just one run on eight hits while striking out four.
The last tournament of the season would be back at Anderson Family Field as the Titans hosted the Easton Invitational. Fullerton would go 3-1 in their four games picking up wins over Boston University, DePaul, and College of Charleston while falling to Harvard.
Fullerton hosted a midweek matchup with Dartmouth and come out with a run-rule victory before heading to Loyola Marymount for a three-game set with the Lions. The Titans would drop the first two before salvaging a win the series finale.
With only one non-conference game remaining, the Titans would head to Westwood, California for their annual matchup with UCLA. The Titans would wind up falling 5-1 to the No. 1 Bruins giving them a 20-15 record heading into Big West action.
Just as they did the year before, Fullerton would kick off conference play with a sweep of UC Santa Barbara. Frost led the charge with 14.2 scoreless innings against the Gauchos earning her first career Big West Pitcher of the Week award. The Titans would actually sweep the Big West weekly awards with Kelsie Whitmore winning Field Player of the Week and Dani Martinez winning Freshman of the Week.
The Titans would host CSUN for their second weekend of conference action. After falling in game one, Fullerton would bounce back to take game two 7-3 and take home the series victory with a dominant 9-1 run-rule victory in the series finale.
Next on the schedule was a nationally televised series against rival Long Beach State. The Titans would take game one 5-2 with all five runs coming in the fifth inning. Game two would go to the 49ers in a pitcher's duel as a first inning LBSU solo home run would be the only scoring in the contest. The Titans would come back to take the series finale 9-6 thanks to a six-run sixth inning.
Fullerton would be back at home in a battle with Hawai'i for the top spot in the Big West standings. But it was all Titans all weekend taking game one 4-2 before erupting for 17 runs in the doubleheader the next day. It led to another Big West weekly awards sweep as Whitmore, Martinez, and Alexa Neil were all honorees.
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Titans would head north to UC Davis for another battle atop the Big West standings. Fullerton would cruise to an easy run-rule victory in game one, but fall in extras in game two setting up a crucial series finale. Davis would get an early first-inning run, but Dockins and Martinez would go on to retire 20 straight Aggies as CSF came out on top 5-1 giving them another Big West series victory.
The final weekend at Anderson Family Field would be a special one as the Titans honored their seniors on the Saturday doubleheader and hosted "No One Fights Alone" day on Sunday in recognition of Dockins' battle against cancer. Whitmore and Williams would carry the offense on Saturday for the doubleheader sweep against Cal Poly taking game one 2-1 in nine innings and 6-1 in game two. In the series finale, Dockins would get the start and dominate the Mustangs throwing a complete game allowing just one run on four hits while striking out five.
Needing one win to clinch the Big West crown, Fullerton headed to UC Riverside for the final weekend of the season. The trophy belonged to the Titans after taking game one 5-3 giving them a fourth consecutive conference title. To celebrate, CSF dominated game two 14-6 including a seven-run sixth inning. Dockins would throw 6.2 shutout innings to secure the series sweep and close out the season while Williams made history becoming the first Titan since 2002 to reach base in every conference game.
The Titans would go on to make their 29th NCAA Regional appearance heading to UCLA for the fourth straight year. Unfortunately, that's where the season would come to an end as they would fall to Missouri, 7-4, in the opener and come up short against Weber State, 7-3, in the elimination game.
Cal State Fullerton finished their season 38-18 overall, 18-3 in conference winning their fourth straight Big West Championship. The Titans have currently won 14 straight Big West series and 25 of their last 28 going back to the start of 2016.
STATS and NOTES:
- This marks the third time in conference history, a school has won four consecutive championships.
- The .857 conference winning percentage ties the 2018 season for seventh highest in program history.
- The Titans posted a .445 slugging percentage as a team, the fifth highest in program history.
- Their 48 home runs are tied for fifth most in a single-season.
- Defensively, the team made just 39 errors marking the fewest in a season leading to a .975 fielding percentage which is the best in program history.
- Head Coach Kelly Ford became the first Big West coach to ever win Coach of the Year in four consecutive seasons.
- Ari Williams became the first Big West Player of the Year for the Titans since 2016. Dani Martinez was the runaway favorite for Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year becoming just the third recipient in program history. Alexa Neil was named Co-Freshman Field Player of the Year, the first recipient of the award since 2015.
- Fullerton also had eight all-conference selections with Williams, Martinez, and Deshea Hill earning First Team selections while Neil, Kelsie Whitmore, Julia Valenzuela, Daisy Munoz, and Sophie Frost were Second Team selections. Martinez, Neil, and Munoz also earned spots on the All-Freshman Team as well.
- Martinez and Williams both earned NFCA All-West Region honors earning Second Team and Third Team selections respectively.
- Throughout the season, the Titans totaled 18 Big West weekly awards including five Players of the Week, three Pitchers of the Week, and 10 Freshmen of the Week. Martinez led the conference with seven total awards (two Pitcher of the Week and five Freshman of the Week).
- Williams finishes her Fullerton career with her name all over the record books: first in stolen bases (93), third in triples (12), sixth in runs (129), seventh in fielding percentage (.991), and ninth in on-base percentage (.404). She also put her name on the single-season leaderboards ranking tied for sixth (with herself…twice) with 22 stolen bases and tied for third with 7 triples.
- Williams and Julia Valenzuela became the 11th and 12th Titans to ever post a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in a season (min. 75 chances). Valenzuela's .992 career mark is good for fifth highest in program history.
- Zoe Richard recorded four sacrifice flies on the year putting her career total to 11, which is tied for second-most all-time.
- Freshman Daisy Munoz launched 10 home runs in her rookie campaign tying the freshman record set by Sue Lewis back in 1981.
- Freshman Alexa Neil had a phenomenal rookie campaign as well finishing three runs and five hits shy of the program record for most runs and hits in a season by a freshman.
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