HONOLULU, Hawaii – The Cal State Fullerton softball team was led with over eight innings of stellar relief by Jasmine Antunez to come from behind in extra innings to down Hawai'i, 5-3, at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium on Friday evening.
Following the series-opener, the Titans climb to (22-13-1, 3-1) while the Rainbow Wahine drop to (18-15, 3-1).
Jasmine Antunez (9-7) was inserted into the game in the very first inning, tossing a career-high 8 and 2/3 innings while tying a season-high with eight strikeouts. After the Rainbow Wahine jumped ahead 3-0 in the opening frame, the right-hander silenced the batters and surrendered only four hits while holding UH batters scoreless the rest of the way.
This marked the first extra innings victory for the Titans since Fullerton edged UNLV, 5-4, on Apr. 20 in a 12-inning duel during the 2013 season. Head Coach Kelly Ford also reached her 50th victory at the Division I level, surmounting a total of over 500 wins between Mt. SAC JC and Cal State Fullerton.
With the score tied at 3-3, Samantha Galarza led off the rally in the ninth frame with a double down the left field line. Lauren Mario hit a sharp single into center field and advanced to second base on the throw. Loie Kesterson then threw a wild pitch with Paige Kisling at the plate to score Galarza. The Titans tacked on another run off Leesa Harris' RBI single to left field, scoring Lauren Mario who had singled earlier in the frame. The two runs proved to be all the Titans would need to hold off Hawai'i.
Three different Titans boosted the offense with multiple-hit games. Kisling batted a perfect 3-for-3 with one run scored and also drawing two walks en route to reaching base on all five plate appearances. Turang chipped in a 2-for-5 effort while Galarza drove in one RBI in batting 2-for-4 with one run scored.
Hawai'i jumped ahead early after freshman Lindsey Willmon led off the game with an infield single. Outfielder Keiki Carlos drew a base on balls later followed by first baseman Leisha Li'ili'i's three-run bomb to left center, her 10th round-tripper of the year. Li'ili'i concluded the contest batting 2-for-3 with three RBI while scoring one run.
Freshman Christina Washington was given the nod in the series opener, tossing only 1/3 of an inning after serving up the three-run round-tripper to Li'ili'i. Washington surrendered four hits and three earned runs while issuing one walk.
The Titans responded in the third frame as Big West Fielder Player of the Week Missy Taukeiaho roped a double down the left field line. Senior Ariel Tsuchiyama drew a walk, later followed by Eliza Crawford wearing her league-leading 10th hit by pitch of the season to load the bases.
Following suit, senior Gabby Aragon was also struck with a pitch, scoring Taukeiaho from third to put the Titans on the board. Galarza lifted a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Tsuchiyama tagging up. Outfielder Kisling eventually drew another bases loaded walk, notching the game up at 3 apiece off of Hawai'i starter Loie Kesterson (10-6).
The Corona, Calif., native tossed the complete nine innings while yielding five runs on 12 hits, suffering her sixth defeat of the year. The left-handed sophomore was wild with her command in spurts, issuing four free passes, hitting two batters and committing a crucial wild pitch late in the game to allow the Titans to steal the contest.
Fullerton completes the three-game series against defending Big West champions Hawai'i with a doubleheader tomorrow, first pitches scheduled for 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. PDT