FULLERTON, Calif. – The Titans beat UC Riverside this past weekend to clinch their third consecutive Big West crown and punched their ticket to their 28th NCAA Regional appearance. They will head to Westwood, Calif. for the Los Angeles Regional hosted by the No. 3 overall UCLA Bruins. They will be joined by No. 22 Texas State and Sacramento State.
The #1 seed UCLA Bruins finished the season with a 50-4 overall record and 20-4 in conference play finishing second in the PAC-12 behind overall No. 1 Oregon. The Bruins are hitting .340 as a team led by PAC-12 Freshman of the Year Aaliyah Jordan who finished the regular season with a .444 average to go along with 11 home runs and 63 RBI. The Bruin pitching staff has combined for a 1.74 ERA and held opponents to a .189 batting average. Rachel Garcia is the ace leading the team in just about every category including a 1.08 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 142.2 innings pitched.
The #2 seed Texas State Bobcats will be the Titans first opponent of the weekend as the two teams face off in the Regional opener. Texas State finished 42-14 overall and 18-5 in the Sun Belt Conference on top of defeating Louisiana in the conference championship. The Bobcats are hitting .282 on the season led by Hailey MacKay's .341 average. She also leads the team with 11 home runs and 38 RBI. The Texas State pitching staff, especially Randi Rupp, has been the best part of this team. They sport a team ERA of 1.64, best among the four Regional teams, and are allowing opponents to hit .206 against them. Rupp has 44 appearances on the season with the next closest on the Bobcats having 17 appearances. The right-hander has a 1.15 ERA in 262 innings this season and has struck out 302 batters while walking just 36.
The #4 seed Sacramento State Hornets are coming off a Big Sky Championship after finishing 31-18 overall and 1407 in conference. The Hornet offense sports a .286 team batting average led by senior Zamari Hinton's .405 mark. The power of the Hornets comes from Suzy Brookshire though. She's hitting .379 on the season to go along with 17 home runs and 50 RBI. Her .834 slugging percentage is almost double the next highest Hornet player. The Sac State pitching staff has a 2.78 team ERA and they are led by Celina Matthias. Matthias has 40 appearances on the season and sports a 1.95 ERA to go along with 203 strikeouts in 204.1 innings.
Cal State Fullerton will be the #3 seed of the Regional coming off their third straight Big West title finishing with a 33-23 overall record and 18-3 in conference. The 18-3 mark is the best conference record for the Titans since 2003 when they went 20-1.
As a team this year, the Titans are hitting .296 and have scored a total 247 runs in 56 games (4.4 runs per game). Freshman Deshea Hill leads the team with a .377 average and is tied for the team lead with a .426 on-base percentage. The .377 mark is the highest by a Titan since 2015 when there were three players above that mark led by Sammie Vandiver's .459 average. Bryanna Ybarra was arguably the best hitter in conference play ranking top 10 in almost every offensive category including top 3 in batting average (1st; .426), slugging percentage (3rd; .639), and on-base percentage (1st; .493). Zoe Richard comes into this weekend red-hot. Hitting safely in 13 of the final 14 games, the sophomore is leading the team in doubles (13) and RBI (32) to go along with a .315 batting average. But you can't talk about the Titan offense without bringing up the two-hitter Sammie Vandiver. Vandiver leads the team in hits with 62, surpassing the 60-hit mark for the third time in her career. She is also one of the toughest to strikeout in the country with just eight k's in 188 at-bats.
The Fullerton pitching staff has been killing it lately, especially redshirt-junior Trish Parks. The right-hander is coming off her first Big West Pitcher of the Week award after throwing 12 shutout innings in three appearances against UC Riverside. She is also riding a 19-inning scoreless streak with the last run against her being courtesy of UCLA in the first inning. Sophie Frost continues to be stellar as well as she leads the team with a 2.17 ERA in 148.2 innings. She also leads the way with 80 strikeouts on the year.
Cal State Fullerton opens up the Regional against Texas State Friday at 5:30 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN3 as well as have the usual live stats and radio feeds.
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