Kelly Ford, who has enjoyed success as a collegiate athlete, community college head coach, and a Division I head coach, enters her eighth season as the head coach of the softball program at Cal State Fullerton for 2019-20.
Ford and her Titans took home their fourth consecutive Big West Conference championship in 2019 marking just the third time in Big West history that a program won four straight crowns. Fullerton went 38-18 overall and 18-3 in conference action claiming their 12th Big West title and making their 29th NCAA Regional appearance.
The 18-3 mark ties the 2018 squad for seventh best conference winning percentage in a single season. For the second straight season, the Titans did not lose a single Big West series now winning 14 straight and 25 of their last 28 going back to 2016.
Coach Ford made history of her own claiming her fourth straight Coach of the Year honor becoming the first time in Big West softball history to accomplish the feat.
The players were also well represented on the end of the year Big West accolades as they totaled 15 awards including Ford's Coach of the Year. Senior Ari Williams was named Player of the Year becoming the first Titan to win it since 2016. Dani Martinez became just the third Titan to ever be named Freshman Pitcher of the Year while Alexa Neil was named Co-Freshman Field Player of the Year. Along with the individual awards, Williams, Martinez, and Deshea Hill were named to the All-Big West First Team while Neil, Kelsie Whitmore, Julia Valenzuela, Daisy Munoz, and Sophie Frost were Second Team selections. Martinez, Neil, and Munoz were also named to the All-Freshman Team.
Ford also saw her players earn 18 Big West weekly awards throughout the season led by Martinez' seven (two Pitcher of the Week honors and five Freshman of the Week honors).
Coming off a back-to-back Big West Championships, Coach Ford and the Titans went into the 2018 season looking for a third consecutive crown and accomplished it. Fullerton went 18-3 in conference play (35-25 overall) en route to their 11th Big West title and made their 28th NCAA Regional appearance.
The 18-3 mark is the best conference winning percentage since the 2003 season when the Titans went 20-1.
The team was well represented in the end of the year Big West accolades, including Coach Ford winning Co-Coach of the Year making her the only coach in Big West history to win the award in three consecutive seasons. She saw nine of her players earn Big West honors; four on the First Team, four on the Second Team, one Honorable Mention, and one Freshman Team selection.
After a historic season in 2016, Coach Ford and the Titans made some more history in 2017 as they became back-to-back Big West champions for the first time since 2000-03. With the title in hand, they made their 27th NCAA Division I Softball Regional appearance in Los Angeles.
The championship season came with a lot of individual accolades, including coach Ford winning her second consecutive Big West Coach of the Year. It also included eight players earning Big West honors, three of which were spots on the first team.
Overall, the team finished 35-23 including a magical conference run where they won 12 consecutive games against their Big West opponents. They finished 16-5 in conference, only 1 win shy of the mark they put the year before.
In her fourth season with the Titans, Ford made the 2015-16 season her best yet as she led Fullerton to its first Big West Conference title in 10 years, its 26th NCAA Division I Softball Championship appearance and first regional appearance since 2009 and 45 victories which is the most since 2002.
The historic season lead to a number of accolades for the 2015-16 Titan softball program as they took four of the six major conference awards. Seniors Missy Taukeiaho and Desiree Ybarra took home Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, while Sydney Golden was named Freshman Pitcher of the Year and coach Ford was named Coach of the Year.
Nine Fullerton players were also named to the all-conference team with five of those nine earning a spot on the first team.
Statistically, Ford and the rest of the Titan coaching staff continued to make steady improvements in key departments as Fullerton finished the year with a .300 batting average for only the fifth time in program history, had 699 total bases which is the most since 2002 and stole 85 bases for the second-most in program history.
Defensively, the Titans pitching staff was putting up video game-like numbers last year as they finished the season with a 2.22 ERA and 13 shutouts which were the best in those categories since 2007. Also, the fielding continues to be top-notch as Fullerton has finished three of the past four seasons with a .970 fielding percentage or higher, including setting the program record in 2015 with a .975 FLD%.
In her third season at the helm, head coach Kelly Ford and the Titans were off to a another quick start with wins in seven of the first 10 contests including an early upset over then-No. 21 Notre Dame, 8-7, in the SoCal Collegiate Challenge. Chalking up an overall record of 34-22, the Titans turned in a 12-9 tally in Big West play which was complimented by a 21-9 record at the friendly confines of Anderson Family Field.
Boasting a league second-best RPI of 52 behind conference champion CSUN, the Titans strength of schedule was exceptional, inking competition against 14 teams that advanced to the NCAA postseason and half of the Women's College World Series field including (final rankings) No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Auburn, No. 4 LSU and No. 5 UCLA. In addition, Fullerton was able to nab a stunner over then-No. 14 Auburn 3-2, marking the highest ranked opponent in a Titans' win since a 6-1 decision over No. 15 Baylor in the 2014 campaign.
The Titans concluded the season on a high note, ending the year in similar fashion to the beginning, carding wins in seven of the final 10, including three consecutive series victories over Big West foes Cal Poly, UC Davis and CSUN. Ford and the support staff led Fullerton to an improvement in seven statistical categories from a season ago including batting avg. (.312), hits (465), doubles (71), triples (12), stolen bases (49), and fielding percentage (.975). The orange and navy showed consistency both on offense and defense, highlighted with this season's batting average and fielding percentage marking the highest among the 36-year history of the Cal State Fullerton softball program.
During the 2014-15 campaign, Ford oversaw the first Big West Player of the Year for the program in University of Washington transfer, Missy Taukeiaho. The sophomore single-handedly rewrote both the program and conference record books in four separate categories including scoring 62 times, inking her into the books for most in a single-season, blasting 19 home runs, notching her into the No. 2 spot on the single-season charts while finishing No. 6 in RBI (51) and No. 9 in batting average with a .429 clip.
In her first season with Fullerton, Ford accomplished several impressive feats that help set the stage for the program. The Titans committed only 48 errors (.970), which is the least amount for a single season and led the Big West Conference. Ford also guided the Titans back to a .500 record for the first time since 2009 after notching her first season with the Titans with a 28-28 overall record.
Ford is the third head coach in the Titans 35-year softball history (Garman, Gromacki) and began her duties at Cal State Fullerton after serving 11 seasons (2002-12) as the head coach at Mount San Antonio Junior College in Walnut, Calif.
Ford guided the Mt. SAC program to four California State Championships (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009), seven South Coast Conference Championships (2003-08, 2001) and has earned South Coach Conference Coach of the Year honors five times. Ford's 11-year career at the community college ends with a staggering 455-102-1 (.816) record.
Ford, who worked with Cal State Fullerton as an assistant coach in 2000 and 2001, brings nine years of experience as an assistant coach at the Division I level, adding time spent at Cal State Northridge with a year (1993) at her alma mater, Oklahoma.
The native of Portland, Oregon played two NJCAA National Championship seasons at Central Arizona College for Clint Myers (now at Auburn University) in 1988 and 1989 before her career with the Sooners under then Head Coach, Jim Beitia. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Oklahoma University in 1992 and earned a master's degree from Azusa Pacific University in Physical Education with an emphasis in Coaching. She has a three-year-old daughter, Sarah.