Titans Split Season Opener with Golden Eagles
FULLERTON, Calif. -- Cal State Fullerton freshman Jasmine Antunez struck out a total of 17 batters in eight innings of work and freshman Melissa Sechrest slugged her first career home run to put the Titans ahead in game two as the home side split a doubleheader with Southern Miss, falling in the opener, 3-1, before rallying for a 4-2 win in the nightcap on Thursday.
Fullerton and Southern Miss each moved to 1-1 overall with the split in the season openers for both teams as first-year head coach Kelly Ford recorded her first win at the helm of the Titans.
The Titans host McNeese State in a non-conference doubleheader on Friday (Feb. 8) at 3 p.m. at Anderson Family Field.
GAME 1: Southern Miss 3, Cal State Fullerton 1
Kimberly Wagner and Beth Dietrich combined on a four-hitter and the top three batters in the Southern Miss lineup each drove in runs as the Golden Eagles posted a 3-1 win in the opener.
Wagner (1-0) scattered just three hits and allowing a harmless seventh inning run to earn the win before Dietrich came on in the seventh and worked out of a bases-loaded jam to earn the save. Fullerton freshman Jasmine Antunez (0-1) suffered the loss, striking out eight in four innings of work, charged with one run on two hits before giving way to Katey Laban in the fifth.
The Titans made things interesting in the bottom half of the seventh trailing by three to the Golden Eagles after getting a leadoff hit from freshman Samantha Galarza, and walks from Eliza Crawford and Kirsten Lambertson, before senior Tiffany Sheffler hit a high infield chopper down the third base line to score Galarza. Senior Ashley Carter had a chance to tie it with the bases loaded, but struck out to end game one. Sheffler went 2-for-3 with an RBI in game one to lead the way for the Titans. The Titans threatened with runners in the third and sixth, but left six men on base.
Southern Miss got on the board first, scoring in the third inning off sophomore Caroline Walker's RBI double to center field scoring senior Danielle LaPointe. Southern Miss was able to extend their lead in the fifth and sixth innings off Cal State Fullerton senior Katey Laban with an RBI single to center field from Morgan McKeever and a home run to left field from junior transfer Taylor Beck. The Golden Eagles scored three runs off six hits to take game one.
GAME 2: Cal State Fullerton 4, Southern Miss 2
In her second career game as a Titan, freshman Melissa Sechrest belted a two-run home run over the right field fence to give the Titans a 4-2 victory in game two. The Titans rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning scoring three runs to take the lead over the Golden Eagles. The three-run rally was started off by a single from redshirt sophomore Eliza Crawford and junior Ariel Tsuchiyama who drove home pinch runner Jena Rubio with a triple to the right field corner to tie the game at two.
The Golden Eagles struck first in the top of the fourth inning after a solo shot by Mackenzie Sher, but were answered right back by the Titans off an RBI single by Tsuchiyama in the bottom half of the inning. Tsuchiyama was three-for-three in the game with two RBIs. Southern Miss had two runs off five hits and fall to 1-1 on the season.
In her second career start, Jasmine Antunez struck out nine batters in four innings of work, but was relieved by senior Katey Laban (1-0) who worked three innings to record the victory. Antunez, who took the loss in game one, earned a no decision in game two leaving the game tied 1-1.
Kaitlin Wilson (0-1) got her first career start for Southern Miss giving up four runs off eight hits in five and two-thirds. Beth Dietrich relieved Wilson after the Sechrest home run to record the final out of the sixth inning. The Golden Eagles scored in the fifth inning off an RBI single to second base from Morgan McKeever and were held in check by Laban after taking a 2-1 lead.