IRVINE, Calif. - The Big West Conference announced the end of the year awards and Cal State Fullerton was well represented. In total, the team garners 15 accolades including Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, Freshman Pitcher of the Year, and Co-Freshman Field Player of the Year.
Starting from the top, head coach Kelly Ford has been named Coach of the Year for the fourth consecutive season. Ford led the Titans to their fourth straight season finishing the regular season 38-16 overall and 18-3 in conference. She has recorded 30-plus wins in each of the last six seasons and 12-plus conference wins in every season at the helm.
Ari Williams was named the Big West Player of the Year after having a phenomenal senior season. In conference play, she led the Big West with a .418 batting average and became the first Titan to reach base in every conference game since 2002. She also ranks in the top five in hits, runs, doubles, triples, RBI, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. She is the first Player of the Year recipient for Fullerton since Missy Taukeiaho in 2016.
Dani Martinez was a runaway favorite for Freshman Pitcher of the Year becoming the first Titan to receive the award since Sydney Golden in 2016. The right-hander finished conference play first in opponent batting average (.158) second in ERA (1.11), second in wins (9), third in strikeouts (62), and fifth in innings pitched (75.2). She is just the third Titan pitcher to have an sub-2.00 ERA for a season since 2009.
Alexa Neil also had a remarkable rookie campaign earning Co-Freshman Field Player of the Year. The second baseman finished the season with a .348 overall batting average which was eighth highest in the conference. She also ranked top ten in the conference in hits, runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Heading into postseason play, she is four runs and seven hits shy of the program freshman records.
The Titans had eight All-Conference award recipients as Williams (third award; second First Team), Martinez, and Deshea Hill (second award; second First Team) were First Team selections while Neil, Kelsie Whitmore (first award), Julia Valenzuela (second award; second Second Team), Daisy Munoz, and Sophie Frost (second award; second Second Team) were all Second Team selections. There were also three Fullerton freshman named to the All-Freshman Team as Martinez, Neil, and Munoz all earned spots.
Hill followed her outstanding freshman season with a very good sophomore campaign. She finished the regular season with a .298 average launching six home runs and driving in 36 RBI. Her nine doubles currently leads the team and her 54 hits on the season ranks third.
Whitmore had a career year in her first year as a starter in the Titan lineup. After a tough non-conference performance, the junior right fielder's bat came alive in Big West action. In the 21 games, she finished in the top five for average (.367), slugging percentage (.673), on-base percentage (.456), runs (17), RBI (15), doubles (6), total bases (33), and stolen bases (6).
Valenzuela also got red hot for conference play raising her overall batting average over 100 points. In the 21 Big West games, she sported a .380 average which ranked fifth highest in the conference as well as a .446 on-base percentage which was eighth highest.
Munoz showed off her power in her first season with the Titans slugging a team-high eight home runs in the regular season. She is two homers shy of the program freshman record set by Sue Lewis in 1981. The first baseman also ranked third on the team with a .310 average and fourth on the team with a .413 on-base percentage.
Frost is the final Titan to be named to the All-Conference team after another great season in the circle. Serving as the backbone of the pitching staff, she finished the season with a 2.65 ERA in 121.1 innings. She also ranked fifth in the Big West with a .241 opponent average.
This is the fourth straight season that seven or more Titans have earned All-Conference selections. This also marks the first season the Titans have garnered individual awards since 2016 when Taukeiaho (Player of the Year), Desiree Ybarra (Pitcher of the Year), and Golden (Freshman Pitcher of the Year) all won awards.
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