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Kelly Ford, who has enjoyed success as a collegiate athlete and as a head coach at the community college level, enters her fifth season as the head coach of the softball program at Cal State Fullerton for 2016-17.
After three successful seasons with the Titans, Ford made the 2015-16 season her best yet as she led Fullerton to its first Big West Conference title in 10 years, its 26th NCAA Division I Softball Championship appearance and first regional appearance since 2009 and 45 victories which is the most since 2002.
The historic season lead to a number of accolades for the 2015-16 Titan softball program as they took four of the six major conference awards. Seniors Missy Taukeiaho and Desiree Ybarra took home Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, while Sydney Golden was named Freshman Pitcher of the Year and coach Ford was named Coach of the Year.
Nine Fullerton players were also named to the all-conference team with five of those nine earning a spot on the first team.
Statistically, Ford and the rest of the Titan coaching staff continued to make steady improvements in key departments as Fullerton finished the year with a .300 batting average for only the fifth time in program history, had 699 total bases which is the most since 2002 and stole 85 bases for the second-most in program history.
Defensively, the Titans pitching staff was putting up video game-like numbers last year as they finished the season with a 2.22 ERA and 13 shutouts which were the best in those categories since 2007. Also, the fielding continues to be top-notch as Fullerton has finished three of the past four seasons with a .970 fielding percentage or higher, including setting the program record in 2015 with a .975 FLD%.
In her third season at the helm, head coach Kelly Ford and the Titans were off to a another quick start with wins in seven of the first 10 contests including an early upset over then-No. 21 Notre Dame, 8-7, in the SoCal Collegiate Challenge. Chalking up an overall record of 34-22, the Titans turned in a 12-9 tally in Big West play which was complimented by a 21-9 record at the friendly confines of Anderson Family Field.
Boasting a league second-best RPI of 52 behind conference champion CSUN, the Titans strength of schedule was exceptional, inking competition against 14 teams that advanced to the NCAA postseason and half of the Women's College World Series field including (final rankings) No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Auburn, No. 4 LSU and No. 5 UCLA. In addition, Fullerton was able to nab a stunner over then-No. 14 Auburn 3-2, marking the highest ranked opponent in a Titans' win since a 6-1 decision over No. 15 Baylor in the 2014 campaign.
The Titans concluded the season on a high note, ending the year in similar fashion to the beginning, carding wins in seven of the final 10, including three consecutive series victories over Big West foes Cal Poly, UC Davis and CSUN. Ford and the support staff led Fullerton to an improvement in seven statistical categories from a season ago including batting avg. (.312), hits (465), doubles (71), triples (12), stolen bases (49), and fielding percentage (.975). The orange and navy showed consistency both on offense and defense, highlighted with this season's batting average and fielding percentage marking the highest among the 36-year history of the Cal State Fullerton softball program.
During the 2014-15 campaign, Ford oversaw the first Big West Player of the Year for the program in University of Washington transfer, Missy Taukeiaho. The sophomore single-handedly rewrote both the program and conference record books in four separate categories including scoring 62 times, inking her into the books for most in a single-season, blasting 19 home runs, notching her into the No. 2 spot on the single-season charts while finishing No. 6 in RBI (51) and No. 9 in batting average with a .429 clip.
In her first season with Fullerton, Ford accomplished several impressive feats that help set the stage for the program. The Titans committed only 48 errors (.970), which is the least amount for a single season and led the Big West Conference. Ford also guided the Titans back to a .500 record for the first time since 2009 after notching her first season with the Titans with a 28-28 overall record.
Ford is the third head coach in the Titans 35-year softball history (Garman, Gromacki) and began her duties at Cal State Fullerton after serving 11 seasons (2002-12) as the head coach at Mount San Antonio Junior College in Walnut, Calif.
Ford guided the Mt. SAC program to four California State Championships (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009), seven South Coast Conference Championships (2003-08, 2001) and has earned South Coach Conference Coach of the Year honors five times. Ford's 11-year career at the community college ends with a staggering 455-102-1 (.816) record.
Ford, who worked with Cal State Fullerton as an assistant coach in 2000 and 2001, brings nine years of experience as an assistant coach at the Division I level, adding time spent at Cal State Northridge with a year (1993) at her alma mater, Oklahoma.
The native of Portland, Oregon played two NJCAA National Championship seasons at Central Arizona College for Clint Myers (now at Auburn University) in 1988 and 1989 before her career with the Sooners under then Head Coach, Jim Beitia. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Oklahoma University in 1992 and earned a master's degree from Azusa Pacific University in Physical Education with an emphasis in Coaching. She has a three-year-old daughter, Sarah.