FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton softball is set for another five-game week(end) as they play host to the San Diego Toreros on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. and then play four games in the Mary Nutter Classic. They'll face LIU Brooklyn at 5:00 p.m. and Mississippi State at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Then, close out the weekend with a double-header against No. 19/19 Cal at 11:30 a.m. and No. 17/15 ASU at 2:00 p.m.
LOOKING FOR THE THREE-PEAT
The Titans dominated conference play last season and took home another Big West championship. It's the first time Fullerton has been back-to-back champs since a four-year stretch from 2000 to 2003 when the Titans won four in a row. Cal State Fullerton looks to make it three Big West championships in a row coming into 2018.
MOTHER NATURE, BE NICE
Last year's scheduled season opener against Ole Miss was rained out. It seems mother nature likes to play a factor at the beginning of Fullerton's seasons with rain causing delays or cancellations in each of the last three seasons. Let's hope that streak ends this season.
Cal State Fullerton finished the 2017 season with a record of 35-23 (.603) overall and 16-5 (.762) in the Big West. It was the team's 15th conference title and 27th NCAA Regional appearance. More notably, they became back-to-back champs for the first time in over a decade with the last occurence being in 2000-03.
The softball program has to replace eight letterwinners from last season. Several of those players were major pieces to the BWC champion Titans last season. The key losses from last year's roster include Delynn Rippy, Lexi Gonzalez, and Kylie Padilla on the offensive side of the ball while Kelsey Kessler, Cerissa Rivera, and Sydney Golden were key losses in the circle for the Titans.
2018 SEASON OUTLOOK
The Titans will have a good mix of returners and newcomers this season giving them a very strong chance to make their third consecutive championship run. The team returns starters Sammie Vandiver (OF), Ari Williams (OF), Emily Randall (3B), Shianne Brannan (SS), and Zoe Richard (1B). The newcomers are headlined by freshman pitcher Taylor Dockins who was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. The team cruised through their fall schedule going 7-1 with the lone loss coming at the hands of UCLA.
Cal State Fullerton will play in six tournaments this year, hosting four of them. The Titan Classic is tournament number one (obviously) and will be followed by a pair of tourneys on the road. The Titans will travel to San Diego for the Campbell Cartier Tournament at SDSU and then the annual Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, CA to finish out February. The Judi Garman Classic in its 13th year is tournament number four of the year. Next, Fullerton co-hosts a tourney with Long Beach State and then close out their tourney schedule by hosting the Easton Invitational.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Fullerton has a full 59-game slate for the 2018 season. Forty-one (yes, 41) of those games will be played at Anderson Family Field. Overall, the Titans only go on five road trips and only one of those (Hawai'i) is a trip outside of California. The other road trips are San Diego, Cathedral City, CSUN, and Cal Poly.
The Titans faced seven teams last season who were ranked at the time of their game. This season, it will be very similar as the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 preseason rankings has Fullerton playing six games against top 25 teams, including three in the top 5 (Oklahoma, Florida, and UCLA) as well as five more games against teams receiving votes just outside of the top 25. After a pair of losses to No.25/25 Kentucky, they'll face two top-20 teams with No. 19/19 Cal and No. 17/15 ASU.
CSF vs. SAN DIEGO • ALL-TIME SERIES
First Year Played/Last Year Played: 1981/2017
Overall Record 9-2
Current Streak Won 1
Home Record 6-1
Road Record 3-1
Neutral Record 0-0
Longest Winning Streak 6 games (2/26/81 to 2/26/95)
Longest Losing Streak 1 game, 2x (last 2/25/15)
Most Runs Scored in a Game 17 runs (2/26/95)
Most Runs Scored in a Game by Opponent 3 runs (2/25/15)
Largest Margin of Victory 17 runs, 17-0 (2/26/95)
Largest Margin of Defeat 1 run, 2x, last 2-3 (2/25/15)
SCOUTING SAN DIEGO
- USD currently sits at 6-5 for the season coming off a 1-4 weekend at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
- Kailey Hill and Sara Silveyra are the only Toreros hitting above .300 right now. Hill is leading the team at .355 with 3 HR and 9 RBI while Silveyra is hitting .324 with 1 HR and 5 RBI, all ranking second.
- In the circle, the San Diego ace is Kyler Halle. In 37.2 innings, she sports a 1.86 ERA and has only allowed 21 hits on the year.
CSF vs. LIU BROOKLYN • ALL-TIME SERIES
This will be the first meeting between the Titans and the Blackbirds.
SCOUTING LIU BROOKLYN
- LIUB is currently 3-7 for the season coming off a 3-2 weekend at the Citrus Blossom Invitational in Orlando, Floriada last weekend.
- Ryleigh Bermea leads the offense for the Blackbirds. She ranks tops in just about every offensive category for LIU batting .407 with 3 HR and 10 RBI on the season.
- Erynn Sobieski leads the Blackbird pitching staff with a 3.82 ERA. As a team, they sport a 7.68 ERA with 40 walks to just 34 strikeouts.
CSF vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE • ALL-TIME SERIES
First Year Played/Last Year Played: 2000/2017
Overall Record 5-1
Current Streak Won 3
Home Record 0-0
Road Record 0-0
Neutral Record 5-1
Longest Winning Streak 3 games (3/12/16 to pres.)
Longest Losing Streak 1 game (2/25/05)
Most Runs Scored in a Game 6 runs (2/17/17)
Most Runs Scored in a Game by Opponent 5 runs (2/25/05)
Largest Margin of Victory 5 runs, 6-1 (2/17/17)
Largest Margin of Defeat 1 run, 4-5 (2/25/05)
SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE
- Miss. St. is currently 8-1 on the season after a 3-1 weekend at the February Freezer in Starkville, Nebraska.
- The Bulldogs are currently receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA poll.
- They are led offensively by Mia Davidson who's sporting a .519 average with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs, and 8 RBI. She is 50th (AVG), T-29th (SLG% and Total Bases), and T-41st (Runs per Game) in the nation.
- Bevia Robinson ranks second in the team with a .409 batting average and leads the team with 4 stolen bases.
- Miss. St. has a phenomenal pitching staff, only allowing 5 runs (2 earned) in their 14 games. Emily Williams sports a 1.24 ERA and that ranks worst on the team as the other three Bulldog pitchers all have 0.00 ERAs. As a team, they have 86 strikeouts in 59 innings.
CSF vs. NO. 19/19 CALIFORNIA • ALL-TIME SERIES
First Year Played/Last Year Played: 1980/2014
Overall Record 23-17
Current Streak Lost 3
Home Record 10-7
Road Record 5-2
Neutral Record 8-8
Longest Winning Streak 8 games (4/9/82 to 4/24/88)
Longest Losing Streak 4 games (3/25/80 to 5/10/80)
Most Runs Scored in a Game 7 runs (4/20/85)
Most Runs Scored in a Game by Opponent 11 runs (3/5/04)
Largest Margin of Victory 7 runs, 7-0 (4/20/85)
Largest Margin of Defeat 11 runs, 0-11 (3/5/04)
- The Golden Bears are a perfect 10-0 on the season and hold a number 19 ranking on both the USA Today/NFCA and the ESPN/USA Softball polls.
- They currently rank 13th in the nation with a .358 team batting average and 8th in the nation with a 0.67 team ERA.
- At the plate, Cal has five hitters batting .400 or better led by Kobie Pettis at .444. Lindsay Rood leads in extra base hits with 4 doubles, 2 triples, and 2 home runs. She's hitting .424 on the year.
- The Golden Bears have only had two pitchers thrown this season. Zoe Conley has a 0.44 ERA in 31.2 innings and Kamalani Dun has a 0.89 ERA in 31.1 innings. They have combined for 74 strikeouts to just 14 walks.
CSF vs. NO. 17/15 ARIZONA STATE • ALL-TIME SERIES
First Year Played/Last Year Played: 1980/2017
Overall Record 25-23
Current Streak Lost 1
Home Record 12-8
Road Record 9-9
Neutral Record 4-6
Longest Winning Streak 5 games (4/24/81 to 4/24/82)
Longest Losing Streak 6 games (2/28/04 to 3/5/15)
Most Runs Scored in a Game 7 runs (2x, last 3/17/02)
Most Runs Scored in a Game by Opponent 10 runs (2x, last 3/2/17)
Largest Margin of Victory 5 runs, 2x, last 6-1 (3/30/94)
Largest Margin of Defeat 9 runs, 1-10 (3/2/17)
- The Sun Devils are 9-1 on the season ranking 17 on the USA Today/NFCA poll and 15 on the ESPN/USA Softball poll.
- They currently have two hitters hitting above .500 to start the season. Morgan Howe's .581 is good for the 21st highest in the nation while Kindra Hackbarth is currently at .500 for her season.
- Howe is also tied for the team lead in home runs with 3 and leads the team with a .935 slugging percentage.
- Kindra's sister Maddi Hackbarth also has 3 homers and leads the team with 17 RBI.
- ASU sports a team ERA of a 1.97 in 64 innings pitched. Breanna Macha (2.33 ERA) and Giselle Juarez (2.42 ERA) are the two main arms for the Sun Devil pitching staff. Macha has 21 innings and has only allowed 12 hits while Juarez has 26 strikeouts with 35 strikeouts.
QUEENS OF THE BIG WEST
Cal State Fullerton was voted to finish atop of the Big West Conference yet again this season. As a program, they have a total of 10 conference championships which ranks as the most in the conference's history. Kelly Ford, with titles in her last two seasons at the helm of the program, looks to lead the Titans to her third championship as she follows in the footseps of Michelle Gromacki (5) and Judi Garman (3 BWC, 5 WCAA).
WINNING...IT'S IN OUR BLOOD
Fullerton has won 30-plus games in 32 of its 38 seasons and 25-plus in all but 3 seasons. The Titans have currently won 30-plus games in the last five seasons as Kelly Ford has led them to 33 wins or better in all but one year since she took over as the head coach. Last year the team picked up win number 1,500 in program history against UC Davis last season.
ROAD TO 200
Head Coach Kelly Ford had a big year last year collecting win number 150 in her time as the Cal State Fullerton head coach last season. She also collect win number 600 in her career as a collegiate head coach. She is now just 22 wins away from number 200.
Kelly Ford and the staff do a fantastic job of recruiting the best local talent here in California. The 2018 Titan roster continues that storyline as all but one of the this year's players are from California. Furthermore, all but 3 of the girls are from Southern California.
NEW PITCHING COACH, YOUNG PITCHING STAFF
Fullerton made a big add in the offseason hiring ASU pitching legend Dallas Escobedo to handle the pitching staff. The Titans lost their three prominent starters from 2017 and hope to replace them with their latest recruiting class. Through opening weekend, freshmen Taylor Dockins, Hannah Johnson, and Janelle Rodriguez have lived up to any and all expectations combining for over 20 innings in the four games collecting all 3 wins.
Speaking of pitchers, the Titans bring in arguably the most decorated high school pitcher in the country in Taylor Dockins. While her list of accolades is almost never ending, the most notable of them is National Gatorade Player of the Year last year. She also set the Southern-Section CIF record for career wins finishing her high school career with 108. But Dockins is winning a bigger fight right now that's not on the softball field. After battling a rare form of liver cancer for the past year, she is currently cancer-free and at the top of the waiting list for a new liver.
The Titans have always found a lot of different ways to score throughout the years. This year, it's going to be all about the speed. This year's team arguably has one of the fastest outfields in the country. Between Ariana Williams, Brooke Clemetson, and Kelsie Whitmore, they had a combined 49 steals (of the team's 67) last season, all of whom are outfielders. On top of that, they have Sammie Vandiver, a speedy slap-hitter starting in left field and hitting in the top part of the lineup. Clemetson leads the way so far for Fullerton at a perfect 6-6 in steals this year. She's ranked in the top 40 in the nation for stolen bases per game.
ARTHUR ASHE AWARD
Seniors Nyah Rodman and Mikaela Francis have been nominated for the prestigious Arthur Ashe Award. The award honors those student-athletes who excel on the field, in the classroom, on their campus, and in their community. Both seniors fit that mold perfectly and have traveled across the world in the past year living up to that. Rodman went to Argentina for a study abroad program, while Francis went to Laos to teach English and Women's Empowerment classes to girls and young women.
NEVER GIVE UP
The Titans showed were resilient and never gave up in their games last season. They totaled 11 come from behind wins including the game against Lehigh in the UCLA Regional last season. Overall, they went 25-7 when scoring in the sixth inning or later last year totaling 50 runs in the final innings. They already picked up comeback win number one of the season on Saturday against Pitt.
DEFENSE WINS BALLGAMES
Last year, the Titan defense was a big part of their success. Their .965 fielding percentage led the conference as they only made 60 errors in over 1,700 chances. Of their 59 games last year, they made 1 or fewer errors in 44 of those games..
ETCHING THEIR NAMES IN THE RECORD BOOKS
Last season was a big year for not just the team as a whole, but for several of the individuals on the team as we are seeing the record books being changed a little bit. For starters, Sammie Vandiver currently ranks fifth all-time in career batting average and sixth all-time in career on base percentage. Shianne Brannan currently has herself tied for seventh all-time in hit by pitches and tenth all-time in fielding assists. The speedsters Ariana Williams and Brooke Clemetson both rank in the top 10 in stolen bases with Williams sitting at number two all-time and Clemetson tied for ninth. Williams also made her mark on the single-season stolen base record tying the record 27 steals last season.
CHASING DOWN NUMBER ONE
Ari Williams tied the single-season record for most stolen bases in a season last year with 27. The junior outfielder has speed very few can match as she chases down the all-time record holder this season. Currently, she sits at 52 steals for her career...she is just seven shy of the record...and she still has all of 2018 AND 2019.
TOP OF THE HILL
Freshman Deshea Hill has been the most consistent hitter through the first two weekends of play for the Titans. Of players with 4 or more at bats, her .400 average and .429 on base percentage leads the team. She's also the only Titan with double-digit hits through the team's first 9 contests.
SACRIFICE YOURSELF FOR THE TEAM
The Titans love the small ball...it's been that way for the past couple seasons. This year is no exception as the team is leading the Big West in overall sac hits. Leading the way is sophomore Julia Valenzuela who has 7 sacs in 9 games which is an average 0.78 per game which leads the nation. Junior Sammie Vandiver ranks 10th on the same list at 0.56 (5 sacs in 9 games).
LAST TIME OUT
The Titans had a rough weekend down at San Diego State during the Campbell/Cartier Tournament. The team went 0-5 and were outscored 32-12. It marks the first time Fullerton has been swept for a whole tourney since 2010 when the team went 0-5 in the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic.
SUPPORT THE TITANS!
Fans can purchase tickets for various Cal State Fullerton athletic events by visiting FullertonTitans.com/Tickets. The Athletic Ticket Office can also be contacted by phone at 657-278-2783 or by email at email@example.com. The Ticket Office is located at the Titan House off of Gymnasium Drive at the eastern end of the Intramural Fields and is open from 10 am – 4 pm PT, Monday – Friday.
FOLLOW THE TITANS!
Fans can keep up with the latest in Titan Athletics by following us on Facebook (Facebook/FullertonTitans), Twitter (@FullertonTitans) Instagram (FullertonTitans) and Snapchat (FullertonTitans). In addition, the softball team has established its own Twitter (@CSUFSoftball), Facebook (Cal State Fullerton Titan Softball) and Instagram accounts (@CSUFSoftball).