FULLERTON, Calif. - With one of the toughest schedules in the nation, the Cal State Fullerton softball team tallied 34 victories and finished fourth in the Big West Conference for the 2015 season. The Titans completed the first back-to-back 30-win seasons since 2006-07 after posting 33 wins a season ago during the 2014 season.
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.
Missy Taukeiaho -
NFCA All-American (3rd Team)
NFCA All-West Region (1st Team)
All-Big West Conference (1st Team)
USA Softball Top 50 Watch List
Taukeiaho was named to the 2015 NFCA Division I All-America Third Team, becoming Cal State Fullerton's first two-time All-American since 2003, while being the 29th Titan to be named to an NFCA All-America Team and the 39th selection overall. Taukeiaho accompanies Gina Oaks (2002-03) in an elite group of seven Titans who have garnered All-American status at least twice. Heading into her final season in 2016, Taukeiaho will have the opportunity to join Sue Lewis (1981-82, 1984) and Jenny Topping (2001-03) as the only Titans in program history to be a three-time honoree. The native from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. collected her second consecutive selection on the NFCA All-West Region First-Team, turning in a .390 average in addition to 10 doubles, 12 home runs and 41 RBIs. Although she missed 10 games, Taukeiaho still managed to lead the team in slugging percentage (.728) and on-base percentage (.488) while recording nearly three times the number of walks (27) to strikeouts (10). Taukeiaho also clinched her second consecutive nod on the All-Big West Conference First-Team, torching NCAA Tournament teams with a .467 clip including a pair of multi-homer games, 12 runs, 14 RBIs and 13 walks. Over those 17 games, she slugged at 1.000 with eight home runs and a .593 on-base percentage. Sitting at 31 home runs in just two seasons at Cal State Fullerton, Taukeiaho is fourth in program history for most career home runs. She will enter her senior campaign on the heels of Ashley Van Boxmeer (2005-07) with 32 and Jenny Topping (2001-03) with 33 long balls in third and second place, respectively. Another 16 round-trippers would tie Yasmin Mossadeghi's (1999-02) 47 homers for the program record.
Courtney Rodriguez -
NFCA All-West Region (1st Team)
All-Big West Conference (1st Team)
Rodriguez, a transfer from the University of Arizona, was one of three Titans to start in all 56 games. Complimenting a .406 average, the native of Scottsdale, Ariz. boasted team highs in at-bats (197), runs (41), hits (80), and RBI (42). Rodriguez was Fullerton's top threat on the base paths, swiping 15 bags in 17 attempts. Her six triples place her fifth in the program record books for most in a single-season. The center fielder was also stellar defensively, carding a .987 fielding percentage with 72 putouts, six assists, and three double plays. Rodriguez will take a 10-game hitting streak into next season after posting a 12-game tear earlier in the year. She earned the Titans' second nod for a conference player of the week honor on March 16 while leading the team with the most multi-hit performances (23) including eight three-hit efforts and 11 multi-RBI games.
Samantha Vandiver -
NFCA All-West Region (2nd Team)
Big West Co-Freshman Field Player of the Year
All-Big West Conference (1st Team)
All-Big West Freshman Team
Leading Cal State Fullerton to its highest single-season team batting average at .312, Vandiver recorded a program record 24-game hitting-streak in her first 24 starts. She will take a team high 13-game streak into the 2015-16 season. The Huntington Beach, Calif. native posted the second highest average for a Titan in any single-season with a .459 clip, just shy of four-time first-team All-American Jenny Topping's mark of .472 in 2002. Batting from the left-side, Vandiver surpasses Sue Lewis' 34-year reign for top freshman average (.408) in 1981. The left fielder also earned Big West Player of the Week honors earlier this year on March 9. Vandiver recorded a conference second-best .496 on-base percentage and led the circuit with 32 hits in 21 conference games while striking out only eight times over the course of the entire season.
Sarah Moore -
All-Big West Conference (2nd Team)
Moore transitioned nicely into the Fullerton offensive attack, recording a team high 12 doubles en route to a .320 average. She collected 48 hits, two triples and one home run in 50 starts. The Chino Hills, Calif. native was the only Titan to tally a four-hit game, accomplishing the feat on two occasions. Batting from the right-side, eight of Moore's doubles came in conference play as she crushed opposing pitching with a .403 average while adding a .552 slugging percentage. She was one of five Titans to produce a double-digit total for multi-hit games with 10 on the season.
Delynn Rippy -
All-Big West Conference Honorable Mention
Hailing from Oceanside, Calif., Rippy competed in 52 games (50 starts) and mustered up a solid .329 average. Another consistent lefty in the line-up, Rippy had five multi-hit games including a pair of three-hit performances. She added to the speed dynamic on offense, turning in a perfect 7-for-7 in steal attempts. Rippy showed identical consistency in the outfield, finishing the season as one of only two Titans to register a 1.000 fielding percentage with a minimum of 60 chances.
Bryanna Ybarra -
All-Big West Conference Freshman Team
Rounding out the Titan honors was Ybarra who filled in exceptionally for the injured Taukeiaho midway through the season with a .309 average in 34 games (16 starts). The Torrance, Calif. native added four doubles, one triple and eight RBIs while showing a great deal of patience at the plate with 15 walks.
LEADING THE LEAGUE
A trio of Titans highlighted the conference standings in highest batting average including frontrunner Sammantha Vandiver with a clip of .459, while fellow CSF teammates and juniors Courtney Rodriguez (.406) and Missy Taukeiaho (.390) join the elite trio in second and fourth overall, respectively. Rodriguez also lead the league with 80 hits, 197 at-bats and six triples while utilizing her speed to swipe an efficient 15-of-17 bases. Taukeiaho posted the top on-base percentage (.488) while her 12 homers was second among the league.
GIVING IT TO THE BIG WEST
The Cal State Fullerton offense hit on all cylinders in conference play, headlining the Big West in a whopping 11 categories including team batting average (.323), slugging percentage (.463), on-base percentage (.396), runs (108), hits (194), RBIs (97), doubles (33), total bases (278), extra base hits (52), at-bats (601) and hit by pitch (19). In addition, the Titans were second against conference foes in walks (58), sacrifice flies (6), sacrifice hits (21) and stolen bases (18).
TITANS REACH 1,400 WINS
Following a sweep in day one of the SoCal Collegiate Challenge over No. 21 Notre Dame, 8-7, and Northwestern State, 6-4, Cal State Fullerton eclipsed the 1,400-win mark in program history and will head into 2016 with a 1,432-749-6 (.655) record. Over the 36-year history of the program, the Titans have captured one national championship (1986), eight conference championships (1986-87, 1993, 2000-03, 2006), 25 NCAA tournament appearances (1982-96, 1999-03, 2005-09), made six Women's College World Series appearances (1982-83, 1985-87, 1995), while producing 29 All-Americans for 38 selections.
TOURNAMENT RECORD, AND THEN SOME
Over the prestigious Judi Garman Classic weekend, the Titans set a single-tournament record for attendance at Anderson Family Field with 2,286 fans attending day three's action on March 7 breaking the previous mark of 2,096 vs. Fresno State on March 21, 2008 also at the Judi Garman Classic. Overall, the Titans produced the highest home attendance (16,862) and per-game average (562) across the entire conference in the 2015 campaign.
DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?
Trailing 6-3 and down to their final three outs at UC Davis in the rubber match, Cal State Fullerton junior Courtney Rodriguez capped off a four-run seventh inning with a two-run single which led to scoring the go-ahead run on a three-base error to shock the Aggies with a 7-6 decision on May 3. With a pair of runners in scoring position, Rodriguez singled to right field which was misplayed and made its way to the outfield fence. Rodriguez, the team leader with 15 stolen bases, used her speed to make the turn around second and eventually round third to capitalize on the rare three-base error and stretch a single into the game-winning run on an unofficial inside-the-park home run.
DRIVING WITH THE CLUTCH IN
Eleven different Titans drove in the game-winning RBI among the 34 Fullerton victories over the season. Eliza Crawford lead all contributors with six, followed by Courtney Rodriguez with five while Samantha Galarza, Missy Taukeiaho, and Samantha Vandiver logged three apiece, respectively.
THIEF! SHE STOLE MY BAG(S)!
In an 8-4 victory over Buffalo on March 17, Rodriguez tied a program record by stealing three bases, joining Torrie Anderson (at UC Riverside, April 4, 2009) as the only Titans to accomplish such a feat in any single-game since complete box scores were available in 1989.
CAN'T IT ALWAYS BE THE THIRD?
The Titans dominated on both sides of the field in the third inning limiting opponents to a combined 24 runs while the Fullerton bats managed to bring across 55 runs in the same frame. In contrast, the Titans were outscored in the seventh frame 39-27, worst differential of any inning.
A host of Titans used conference play to implement the use of the long ball as a trio of student-athletes in Courtney Rodriguez and Melissa Sechrest went yard on three occasions while Missy Taukeiaho blasted four round-trippers.
In a back-and-forth game versus No. 21 Notre Dame an unlikely hero emerged in Fullerton, Calif., native Gabby Rodas. While the heated contest was littered with five home runs, in the bottom of the seventh with the bases-loaded and the game tied 7-7, Rodas fouled off multiple pitches until she earned a walk to drive in the game-winning RBI in surprising fashion.
As if a bases-loaded walk was an unorthodox scenario to walk-off an opponent, the Titans once again manufactured a way to win in epic proportions against Oklahoma State on Feb. 22. With Missy Taukeiaho standing on second base and in scoring position, Sarah Moore stayed patient on a 3-1 count in the bottom of the seventh to draw a walk. The unique aspect of this is that the fourth ball of the at-bat was airmailed over the catcher for a wild pitch, and with heads up baserunning Taukeiaho rounded third to slide home safely and shock the Cowgirls and seal the 6-5 stunner.
The Titans continued their magical ways against CSU Bakersfield on March 25, erasing a three-run deficit with another odd walk-off. With its back against the wall trailing 3-0 after five frames, Fullerton chalked up three runs in the sixth before Sarah Moore was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the seventh inning to capture a 4-3 victory and tie the biggest comeback of the season with the Feb. 22 contest versus Oklahoma State at the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
TITANS VERSUS RANKED TEAMS*
DATE - OPPONENT - LOCATION - RESULT
FEB. 7 - No. 21 Notre Dame - Fullerton, Calif. - W, 8-7
FEB. 8 - No. 21 Notre Dame - Fullerton, Calif. - L, 2-7
FEB. 19 - No. 18 Missouri - Palm Springs, Calif. - L, 2-10
FEB. 19 - No. 14 LSU - Palm Springs, Calif. - L, 0-8
FEB. 21 - No. 23 Texas A&M - Palm Springs, Calif. - L, 1-2
MAR. 4 - No. 3 Michigan - Fullerton, Calif. - L, 0-9
MAR. 5 - No. 22 Arizona State - Fullerton, Calif. - L, 3-10
MAR. 6 - No. 14 Auburn - Fullerton, Calif. - W, 3-2
APR. 8 - No. 9 UCLA - Los Angeles, Calif. - L, 1-9
*Ranking when game occurred
TRY ME, I DARE YA!
Oregon State transfer Kylie Padilla transitioned into the everyday catcher, tying for first in the conference in runners thrown out with 10 on the season. Opposing runners tested the arm of Padilla making an attempt to steal on 21 occasions, but the Chino, Calif. native limited the thieves to a 32% succession rate with accurate throws and good decisions.
CAN'T TOUCH THIS
Following a 3-0 decision over Nebraska on March 15, Cal State Fullerton captured three consecutive shutout victories for the first time since the 2002 campaign when the Titans swept a three-game set against Big West foe UC Riverside by a combined score of 31-0 from April 27-28. CSF pitching had posted 26 straight scoreless innings before surrendering a run to Charleston Southern in the sixth inning of a 5-1 victory also on March 15.
BUILT TITAN TOUGH
After finishing second in the Big West Conference for being hit with the most pitches (12) last season, opposing pitchers continued to tag senior Eliza Crawford this year as she was tagged another 15 times to lead the league in 2015. The first baseman was also superb defensively being one of six student-athletes (minimum 50 chances) across the league to post a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage (including CSF teammate Delynn Rippy) with 173 put outs and two assists in 175 chances.
WON'T GET IT PASSED US
The Fullerton batters made the most of its plate appearances en route to posting a conference low 167 strikeouts to opposing pitchers. Hawai'i led the league with 285 strikeouts followed by CSUN (224) and UC Santa Barbara (202).
TITANS INK TRIO TO 2016 SIGNING CLASS
Head softball coach Kelly Ford announced that three area prep athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to play softball for the Cal State Fullerton Titans. Sydney Golden, Raeanne Martinez and Ariana Williams all hail from California and will begin their careers with the Titans at the beginning of the 2015-16 academic school year.
FOLLOW THE TITANS!
Fans can keep up with the latest in Cal State Fullerton athletics by following us on Facebook (Facebook.com/FullertonTitans), Twitter (@FullertonTitans), Instagram (FullertonTitans) and YouTube.com (Youtube.com/CSFAthletics). In addition, the softball team has established its own official Facebook (Facebook.com/csufsoftball), Twitter (@CSUFSoftball), and Instagram (csufsoftball) accounts.