Titans Set for Campbell/Cartier Tournament at SDSU

Game action against LMU in the Titan Classic
Photo credit: Matt Brown

Game Notes (PDF)
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FULLERTON, Calif. – After a successful opening weekend, the Titans will make their first road trip of the year as they head down to San Diego State to compete in the Campbell/Cartier Tournament. They will play five games over the course of the weekend starting with a double header against North Dakota State at 9:30 am and No. 25/25 Kentucky at 11:30 am on Friday. They'll play two more games on Saturday facing Illinois-Chicago at 11:30 am and Kentucky again at 7:00 pm. Fullerton closes out the weekend against the host SDSU on Sunday at 11:30 am.

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.

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.

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.

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. The first of these matchups takes place this weekend as Fullerton faces No. 25/25 Kentucky.


First Year Played/Last Year Played:    2017/2017
Overall Record                        1-0
Current Streak                        Won 1
Home Record                          1-0
Road Record                           0-0
Neutral Record                                    0-0
Longest Winning Streak                      1 game (2/12/17 to pres.)
Longest Losing Streak             N/A
Most Runs Scored in a Game 4 runs (2/12/17)
Most Runs Scored in a Game by Opponent     2 runs (2/12/17)
Largest Margin of Victory                   2 runs, 4-2 (2/12/17)
Largest Margin of Defeat                    N/A

- NDSU went 2-3 at the UNLV Kick Off Classic with wins over Southern Utah and Utah Valley. Their losses came against UNLV, #16 Minnesota, and Creighton.
- Maddie Hansen and Bre Beatty led the Bison offense. Hansen hit .417 with a double and 2 RBI to go along with a team-high 3 walks. Beatty hit .412 leading the team
with 7 hits (4 of which were doubles) and 5 RBI.
- Jacquelyn Sertic was stellar in the circle for the Bison despite going 1-2 in her 3 appearances. In 23.1 innings, she gave up 12 hits and 8 runs (6 earned). She also struck out 36 batters while walking 8.

First Year Played/Last Year Played:    2010/2010
Overall Record                        0-1
Current Streak                        Lost 1
Home Record                          0-0
Road Record                           0-0
Neutral Record                                    0-1
Longest Winning Streak                      N/A
Longest Losing Streak             1 game (2/12/10 to pres.)
Most Runs Scored in a Game N/A
Most Runs Scored in a Game by Opponent     2 runs (2/12/10)
Largest Margin of Victory                   N/A
Largest Margin of Defeat                    2 runs, 0-2 (2/12/10)

- The Wildcats went 1-2 in a weekend series against New Mexico State.
- UK fell from No. 17/13 in the preseason polls to No. 25/25 in the most recent polls.
- Bailey Vick and Katie Reed led the Wildcats offensively on opening weekend. Vick leads the team with a .667 batting average while Reed is hitting .545 with 2 home runs and 7 RBI.
- Kentucky has seen 5 different players in the circle through their first 3 games. Erin Rethiake has seen the most innings at 10 and sports a 3.50 ERA. Overall, the team has an 8.11 ERA.

First Year Played/Last Year Played:    2006/2007
Overall Record                        2-0
Current Streak                        Won 2
Home Record                          0-0
Road Record                           0-0
Neutral Record                                    2-0
Longest Winning Streak                      2 games, (2/24/06-pres.)
Longest Losing Streak             N/A
Most Runs Scored in a Game 9 runs (2/24/06)
Most Runs Scored in a Game by Opponent     7 runs (2/24/06)
Largest Margin of Victory                   3 runs, 3-0 (2/24/07)
Largest Margin of Defeat                    N/A

- UIC went 2-2 on opening weekend at the Mardi Gras Classic with wins over Samford and Iowa. Their two losses came against #8 LSU and Iowa.
- Lexi Watts is the offensive leader thus far for the Flames hitting .462 with a .615 slugging percentage. She's also 3-3 stealing bases.
- Karissa Frazier is the ace of the staff currently sporting a 2-0 record. In 11.1 innings, she only surrendered 4 hits and 1 run, good for a 0.62 ERA.

First Year Played/Last Year Played:    1980/2017
Overall Record                         48-20
Current Streak                        Win 2
Home Record                          26-10
Road Record                           19-8
Neutral Record                                    3-2
Longest Winning Streak                      38 games (3/18/81 to 3/4/95)
Longest Losing Streak             6 games (3/31/10 to 3/8/15)
Most Runs Scored in a Game 20 runs (3/19/87)
Most Runs Scored in a Game by Opponent     12 runs (5/2/12)
Largest Margin of Victory                   20 runs, 20-0 (3/19/87)
Largest Margin of Defeat                    10 runs, 10-0 (4/25/12)

- The Aztecs went 1-5 on opening weekend with their only win coming against Western Michigan. Their losses came against No. 25/25 Georgia, Stanford, Northwestern, Nebraska, and UC Davis.
- Katie Byrd is the big name on offense going 8-19 over the weekend. She currently leads the team in hits, runs, doubles, total bases, slugging percentage, on base percentage, and stolen bases.
- In the circle, SDSU has a team ERA of 6.44 with Julie McDonald leading the way with a 3.87 ERA in 12.2 innings.


Overall, Fullerton is now 9-4 all-time in the Titan Classic. This past weekend was the third Titan Classic in the program's history and the Titans went 3-1 to open up their season. Friday was a split with a win over Rutgers and a loss to Utah State. Saturday, they beat Pittsburgh and Sunday, they took down Loyola Marymount.

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).

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.

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.

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. The speed showed on opening weekend as the Titans stole 10 bags on 12 tries this weekend led by Clemetson's three.

Freshman infielder Sam Kennedy is the sister of former Titan baseball player AJ Kennedy. AJ was a catcher for the Titans in 2013-15 before being drafted in the 30th round to the Padres. Senior utility player Kenzie Grimes also fits this Titan family mold as her older sister is actually Caitlin Grimes, the team's Volunteer Assistant Coach.

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.

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.

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. And that storyline continued through the start of the 2018 season as in their four opening weekend games, only two errors were made.

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.

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 51 steals for her career after swiping two this past weekend...just eight shy of the record...and she still has all of 2018 AND 2019.

The Titans' nine newcomers had big shoes to fill coming in to the 2018 season and they have filled them beautifully through the first four games. Freshmen Taylor Dockins, Hannah Johnson, and Janelle Rodriguez all made their collegiate debuts in the circle and combined for over 20 innings pitched and only surrendered eight runs. At the plate, freshmen Deshea Hill and Sam Kennedy also had nice opening weekend performances. Hill went 5-10 at the dish with a pair of RBI while Kennedy went 2-7 with a pair of runs scored. 

The Titans went 3-1 opening weekend and it was largely because of their offense. In terms of the Big West Conference, they currently rank first in batting average (.340), walks (15), fewest strikeouts (11), on base percentage (.413), stolen bases (10), and are tied for first in doubles (6). And of course, they continued on with their stellar defense sporting a .984 fielding percentage which is 17 points higher than the next highest team.


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 athletictixs@fullerton.edu. 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.


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).


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