Titans Split Big West Opener with Gauchos

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A late-inning rally by the Cal State Fullerton softball team in game one propelled the Titans over UC Santa Barbara 6-3 and a Gauchos five-run first inning gave UCSB an early advantage to take game two 8-6.

Desiree Ybarra was 4-for-7 with four RBI's and Melissa Sechrest also added four RBI's over the two contest, giving the Titans their first conference win of the season. Cal State Fullerton moves to (14-17, 1-1) and UC Santa Barbara improves to (20-9, 1-1) on the season.

The Titans and Gauchos will face off for the rubber match on Sunday March 24 at noon at Campus Diamond Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif. The Titans haven't lost a series versus the Gauchos since 2008and have never lost a series in Santa Barbara since the program began in 1980.

Game One: Cal State Fullerton 6, UC Santa Barbara 3

After managing no hits through five innings, the Cal State Fullerton Titans softball team rallied late to defeat the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 6-3 in game one of the doubleheader at Campus Diamond Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif. Senior Courtney Snyder laid down a squeeze bunt back to the pitcher scoring right fielder Tiffany Sheffler to give the Titans a 4-3 lead. The Titans trailed for most of the contest 3-0, but broke through in the sixth and seventh inning scoring three runs in each inning.

UC Santa Barbara's Shelby Wisdom delivered an impressive performance through five innings giving up no hits and only two walks, but Ariel Tsuchiyama's RBI double in the sixth inning broke up the no-hitter. The Titans would continue their rally and tie up the game when Melissa Sechrest drove a 1-2 pitch back up the middle bringing in pinch runner Jena Rubio and Desiree Ybarra from third.

Wisdom (10-6) tossed 6 1/3 innings giving up six runs, four earned, off six hits, while striking out three. The Big West freshman of the Year last season started the game off throwing six straight balls, but settled down to retire the next 10 Titan hitters before issuing a walk to Ybarra.

The Gauchos took an early lead in the top of the first inning after an Arianna Palomare's RBI double off the center field wall scored senior Jessica Soria from second. UCSB would extend its lead in the fifth inning to 3-0 after Wisdom belted a two-run home run to left field.

Cal State Fullerton freshman Jasmine Antunez tossed 4 2/3 innings giving up three runs off five hits, while striking out four. Ybarra (5-5) relieved Antunez tossing two innings giving up no runs and just two hits.

Desiree Ybarra was 2-for-3 two RBI's with a run scored, Leesa Harris was 1-for-2 with two runs scored, and Tiffany Sheffler was 1-for-3 with a run scored.

Shelby Wisdom was 2-for-4 with two RBI's and a run scored, designated player McKenzie Kane was 2-for-2, and second baseman Kathryn Pilpil was 1-for-2 with a run scored.

Game Two: UC Santa Barbara 8, Cal State Fullerton 6

After rallying late in game one, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos came out in game two scoring five runs off four hits in the bottom of the first inning. Shortstop Keilani Jenning's RBI double, McKenzie Kane's RBI single, and Lauren Boser's  two-run single up the middle gave the Gauchos the early lead. Cal State Fullerton's Desiree Ybarra (5-6) was lifted after managing just one out, but senior Katey Laban came in throwing the final 5 2/3 innings giving up three runs, two earned, off six hits.

The Titans would answer back in the second and third inning scoring two runs off a double to the right center gap from freshman Melissa Sechrest and an RBI infield single from Eliza Crawford. Fullerton would pull within one run after back-to-back doubles from Ybarra and Crawford, but the Gauchos would extend their lead back to three after Jennings belted a two-run home run to right field.

The Titans would make things interesting in the seventh inning after loading up the bases, but pinch hitter Courtney Snyder popped up to second baseman Kathryn Pilpil to end the game.  

UCSB's Andriana Collins tossed 2 1/3 innings giving up three runs off six hits, freshman Alex Pingree threw two innings giving up one run off two hits, and game one starter Shelby Wisdom earned her first save of the season throwing 2 2/3 innings giving up two runs off five hits.

Crawford was 4-4 with two RBI's and one run scored, Lauren Mario was 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, and Desiree Ybarra was 2-for-4 with a run scored. UCSB's Jennings finished 2-for-3 with three RBI's and two runs scored and first baseman Arianna Palomares was 3-for-4 with a run scored.

Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara will wrap the series up tomorrow at noon.

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