FULLERTON, Calif. - With one of the toughest schedules in the nation, the Cal State Fullerton softball team finished fourth in the Big West Conference and reached the most wins since 2007 during the 2014 season.
In her second season at the helm, Head Coach Kelly Ford and the Titans were off to a quick 6-0 start to the season after a sweep of the Fullerton hosted Easton Tournament, marking the best start for the program since the 2000 campaign. Chalking up an overall record of 33-21-1, the Titans reached the 33-win mark for the first time since 2007 after posting five more wins than a season ago. In Big West play, the Titans produced a mark of 13-11, totaling an identical number of conference wins from the 2013 season, but with three less losses.
Boasting a league second-best RPI of 53 behind conference champions Long Beach State, the Titans strength of schedule was exceptional, inking competition against 12 teams that advanced to the NCAA postseason. Among those teams, Fullerton was able to nab an upset victory over then No. 2 Oklahoma, 3-1, marking the first program win over a second-ranked opponent since 2008 on Feb. 7.
Ford also led the Titans to a win over then No. 15 Baylor, 6-1, at the Mary Nutter Classic on Feb. 21 in Cathedral City, Calif. Both Oklahoma and Baylor reached the eight-team field in the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., with Florida becoming the eventual national champion.
The Titans finished strong to make a postseason push, winning seven of their final 10 games, including a three-game sweep at Cal State Northridge to conclude the season. Ford and the support staff led Fullerton to a staggering improvement in 10 offensive categories including batting avg. (.300), runs (303), hits (431), doubles (70), home runs (57), RBIs (253), total bases (690), slugging pct. (.479), walks (170) and on-base pct. (.385). The orange and navy carded its first .300 team batting average since the 2000 season.
TITANS VERSUS RANKED TEAMS*
|FEB. 7||No. 2 Oklahoma||Fullerton, Calif.||W, 3-1|
|FEB. 15||No. 23 California||San Diego, Calif.||L, 4-5|
|FEB. 21||No. 15 Baylor||Palm Springs, Calif.||W, 6-1|
|FEB. 21||No. 23 LSU||Palm Springs, Calif.||L, 1-8|
|FEB. 22||No. 24 Notre Dame||Palm Springs, Calif.||L, 0-8|
|FEB. 25||No. 2 Tennessee||Fullerton, Calif.||L, 4-8|
|MAR. 8||No. 14 Nebraska||Fullerton, Calif.||L, 2-9|
|MAR. 8||No. 7 Arizona||Fullerton, Calif.||L, 0-15|
|APR. 10||No. 2 UCLA||Fullerton, Calif.||L, 2-5|
*Ranking when game occurred
NFCA All-American/Big West Awards
The University of Washington transfer became the 29th Titan to be named to an NFCA All-American Team and the first since Kiki Munoz earned second team honors in 2008. The third-team honoree single handedly rewrote both the program and conference record books in four separate categories en route to also being the first Titan to earn Big West Player of the Year honors since Ashley Van Boxmeer in 2006. Batting from the leadoff position in all 55 games this year, Taukeiaho scored 62 times, inking her into the all-time record books for most in a single-season. Power wasn't the least bit lacking from batting in the one-hole, as she blasted 19 home runs, notching her into the No. 2 spot on the single-season charts. In addition, she finished No. 6 in RBIs (51) and No. 9 in batting average with a .429 clip to eventually land herself on the NFCA All-West Region First Team. Being an offensive machine, Taukeiaho manufactured 21 multi-hit contests and 12 multi-RBI games. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native captured three Player of the Week accolades over the season (weeks of Feb. 3-10, Mar. 24-31 and Apr. 14-21), good for third most all-time in Big West Conference history. She led the league in long balls, runs scored, RBI, walks (40), on-base percentage (.547) and slugging percentage (.851). In conference play, Taukeiaho launched eight of her 19 long balls complimented by her league-high .508 average, propelling the Titans to victories in seven of their last eight games and landing herself on the All-Big West First Team. She also swiped eight bags over the season with a perfect (8-for-8) succession rate. Batting from the right-side, Taukeiaho posted a team-high 10-game hitting streak between Mar. 26-Apr. 12 (.543, 19-for-35, four home runs, 14 RBI's, 15 runs scored, six doubles, seven walks).
After being selected on the All-Big West Second Team twice over her career (2011 and 2013), Tsuchiyama found herself as a member of the first team following her final campaign as a Titan. She wraps up her tenure as a four-year starter, given the nod into the starting lineup in a whopping 204 of 206 games. Tsuchiyama concludes her career in the top-10 in fielding percentage behind the backstop. Batting from the left-side, she extended her career-high hitting streak to nine games earlier this year, also notching career-highs in batting average (.329), hits (53), home runs (3), doubles (11), RBIs (26), total bases (73) and on-base percentage (.410).
Named on the All-Big West Second Team, Harris concluded her career starting at least 50 games in each of the past three seasons while posting a career batting average of over (.300). During a 12-4 rout over UNLV earlier this season, the Los Angeles, Calif., native struck for four hits en route to driving in five runs, both career-highs and one of only three Titans to manufacture a four-hit game this season. Making a living on the base paths, Harris is third all-time in program history with 38 stolen bases. The left fielder poured in career-highs of at-bats (150), runs (35), hits (52), triples (5), RBIs (20), total bases (66), slugging percentage (.440), and on-base percentage (.372). She was also one of six conference players to post a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, aiding her to the top of the CSF record books for the highest mark in a career (.993).
In 2014, Galarza was one of two players to start all 55 games totaling 54 hits, five home runs, 24 runs scored and 29 RBIs. Recognized as a member of the All-Big West Second Team, she batted at a clip of .329, also logging a .369 on-base percentage, collecting 75 total bases, six doubles, three stolen bags and a slugging percentage of (.457). All are career-highs for the right-handed middle infielder. She launched her first career grand slam on Mar. 30 that proved to be the game-winner against UC Santa Barbara in a thrilling come from behind 11-7 victory. The Moreno Valley, Calif., native accumulated an extensive list of off-the-field honors, including selection to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team, while receiving the CSF Big West Sportsmanship Award and being named one of the Big West Scholar-Athletes of the Year in 2013.
Selected on the conference's inaugural All-Freshman Team, Washington pioneered the pitching staff with a 12-6 record, posting a team-best 3.56 ERA, while tossing 131 and 2/3 innings along with 55 strikeouts. The Inglewood, Calif., native tossed a complete-game in a 3-1 decision against eventual conference champion Long Beach State on Apr. 18, issuing two walks and going the distance without the benefit of a strikeout. The left-hander fanned a season-high seven batters against Oregon State on Feb. 27 at Anderson Family Field in Fullerton, Calif.
Chipping in five game-winning RBIs this season, Crawford launched a career-high 12 home runs while collecting 36 RBIs, 82 total bases and 23 walks. Batting from the left-side, she posted an on-base percentage of .422 and a slugging percentage of (.607). Receiving a nod as an All-Big West Honorable Mention honoree, the Lakewood, Calif., native blasted two round-trippers against George Washington on Feb. 9, leading to another career-high of five RBIs in that contest. The first baseman concluded the year amongst the conference top-five in home runs, sacrifice flies (3), and slugging percentage while being hit by a pitch on 12 occasions. She also became the first Titan since 1996 to post a perfect fielding percentage of 1.000 (minimum of 100 chances), refusing to commit an error in 176 chances.
After capturing a total of 500 wins as a Head Coach between Mt. SAC JC and Cal State Fullerton earlier this season, Kelly Ford chalked up another milestone in Hawaii. The Portland, Ore., native captured her 50th win at the Division I level when the Titans defeated Hawai'i, 5-3, on Apr. 4 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
PATIENCE WAS A VIRTUE
Cal State Fullerton led the Big West in drawing base on balls with 170 as a team, 15 more than the nearest competitor Hawai'i with 145. Three Titans eclipsed 20 walks or more, Missy Taukeiaho led the league with 40, followed by Eliza Crawford with 23 and Gabby Aragon registering 22 free passes.
DRIVING WITH THE CLUTCH IN
A whopping ten different Titans drove in a game-winning RBI to create a lead that was never surrendered by Fullerton. Gabby Aragon led the team with eight game-winning RBI hits, followed closely by Missy Taukeiaho with seven. Eliza Crawford (6), Sam Galarza (3), Leesa Harris (2) and Melissa Sechrest (2) round out the top-five contributors. Amongst the 31 hits in total, 10 of those were via the long ball.
GRAND SLAM FEVER
Fullerton opened up conference play with two victories against UC Santa Barbara including an 11-7 come-from-behind thriller in the Titans annual Pink Day game on Mar. 30. Missy Taukeiaho blasted a grand slam in the third inning to erase a five-run lead while Samantha Galarza launched another four-bagger in the sixth frame to break a 7-7 tie to stun the Gauchos and capture the series. The slugfest remarkably produced three total grand slams as UCSB's Stacy Cavazos accounted for another earlier in the third inning.
DOING IT IN BUNCHES
Five Titans have recorded a multiple-hit 10 times or more this season: Missy Taukeiaho (21), Samantha Galarza (15), Ariel Tsuchiyama (14), Leesa Harris (12) and Gabby Aragon (12). Two out of the five athletes collected four-hit games, one apiece by Taukeiaho and Harris, respectively.
AND WE ARE TIED, THIS TIME FOR GOOD
Due to darkness and the lack of lights at Bakersfield on Mar. 26, the Titans and Roadrunners finished the game in a 10-10 tie. This was the first decision of this type for the Titans since Feb. 17 of 2008 when Cal State Fullerton and the Texas Longhorns ended in a 4-4 tie.
COMING ALIVE IN THE THIRD
Over the season, the Titans owned a commanding 76-28 scoring edge in the third inning. The offensive outburst resulted in a 26-3 record when Fullerton led after that very frame.
Fullerton played exceptional defensively marking a (.967) fielding percentage, good for second-best in the conference. The Titans posted the second-lowest errors total with 52 on the season, 22 less than league leaders UC Davis with 74. Out of the six individuals in all of the Big West who own a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage over the season, four wore a Titans uniform: Leesa Harris, Eliza Crawford, Lauren Mario and Jena Rubio.
TAKE THE RAKE OUT
The Titans placed second in the Big West in batting average with a team clip of (.300). It is the highest average by a Titan team since the 2000 and 2001 squads batted .304 and .298, respectively. Four Fullerton starters posted averages above that mark: Missy Taukeiaho (.429), Leesa Harris (.347), Ariel Tsuchiyama (.329), and Samantha Galarza (.329). Fullerton also finished second in the conference in home runs (57) and runs scored (303), and first in slugging percentage (.479) and on-base percentage (.385).
Cal State Fullerton saw seniors Ariel Tsuchiyama, Gabby Aragon, Leesa Harris, Lauren Mario and Jena Rubio play their last game at Anderson Family Field on Sunday, May 4, 2014 versus UC Davis. Tsuchiyama and Harris are highlighed above after receiving nods in the Big West Awards, but listed below are accolades from our additional special seniors.
Aragon used her senior year to eclipse career-highs in runs, hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs. She was named to the All-Big West Second Team twice over a career, in 2010 and 2013. During a 9-2 victory over Fresno State earlier this season, the Garden Grove, Calif., native unleashed a 3-for-4 day at the plate, scoring one run while knocking in a career-high five RBIs. The right-hander started 131 games over her career while scattering 89 hits over that span.
Mario played in over 150 games over her four-year career, recording at least 10 RBIs in three of those seasons. She showcased her power when belting two home runs, producing four RBIs and collecting eight total bases, all career-highs against Charleston Southern in 2013. The native from San Diego, Calif., also used her senior year to post a career-high eight-game hitting streak while manufacturing five multi-RBI contests.
Rubio completed her fourth consecutive season as a Titan, and was one of 10 players in the Big West to post a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 2014 while also accomplishing the same accolade in 2013. The Whittier, Calif., native concludes her career with 51 runs scored while swiping 22 bases. Rubio poured in a career-high three RBIs while launching one of two career home runs in a game against UC Santa Barbara in 2012.
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