A day after Titan athletics lost a member of its family as Nick Hurtado lost his battle with cancer at the young age of 21, it was a rough day for the Cal State Fullerton softball team in the second day of the Easton Invitational on Saturday.
The Titans got roughed up in both games of a doubleheader to the Stanford Cardinal in the first game, 14-1, and the Iowa Hawkeyes, 7-0, in the second.
“We were a little depleted energy-wise and everybody emotionally was really raw with the passing of Nick, it really affected our girls,” said Titans Head Coach Kelly Ford. “A lot of them knew him personally and we just couldn’t make the transition.”
In the second game of the doubleheader, the visiting Hawkeyes (13-5) went on the attack early in the first inning when they were able to put up five runs against Titan left hander Desiree Ybarra as they batted around.
The Titans (8-11) seemed rattled as the Hawkeyes leadoff hitter, Johnnie Dowling, was able to reach base on an error by second baseman Lauren Mario. It was a sign of things to come as the next hitter, Bradi Wall, hit a line drive double to left field that scored Dowling for the 1-0 lead.
After advancing to third on a passed ball, Wall was driven in with a single to center by Megan Blank. After getting the next two batters out, Ybarra hit two consecutive batters to load the bases for Sammi Gyerman who hit a single to left-center field that drove in two runs to extend the Iowa lead to 5-0.
After scoring two more runs in the top of the second to extend the lead to 7-0 that drove Ybarra out of the game, it became a pitcher’s duel with Fullerton senior Katey Laban taking over and Iowa’s Kayla Massey mowing down the Titan hitters for the shutout.
Massey and Laban were matching each other pitch for pitch as Massey didn’t allow a single hit until the fifth inning when Titan left fielder Leesa Harris was able to drive the ball past the left fielder for a double but that was it for the Fullerton offense. Massey finished the game with four strikeouts on one hit and no runs allowed in seven innings pitched.
“(Laban) really stepped up, she was outstanding as she just came in and handled the situation,” Ford said. “I am not surprised as she works her tail off and I couldn’t be happier for her.”
Laban was also able to shut down the Hawkeye offense as she pitched five and one third innings of shutout softball, allowing just two hits on three walks.
“I was just trying to stick to my routine just breathing and knowing they weren’t overpowering at the plate,” Laban said. “I was just pitching my game and not letting their hits get to me.”
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Stanford Cardinal proved to be too much for the Titans as they struck early and often for a 14-1 mercy victory in five innings of play.
Stanford (15-5) got things started in the top of the second inning with a bang as Erin Ashby hit a huge bomb over the left field wall with one runner on to give the Cardinal a 2-0 lead.
The Titans were able to answer back in the bottom of the second with a leadoff solo shot by third baseman Eliza Crawford just over the left field wall to cut the lead in half, 2-1.
“Right now I’m just trying to stay short to the ball and not trying to hit a homerun, trying to get base hits,” Crawford said. “I was just trying to be aggressive.”
That was all for the Titan offense as they got shutout the rest of the way by Stanford pitcher Teagan Gerhart, sister of Stanford alumnus and Heisman Trophy candidate running back Toby Gerhart.
Stanford came right back in the top of third inning and drove Fullerton pitcher Jasmine Antunez out of the game with two straight RBI doubles by left fielder Leah White and first baseman Kayla Bonstrom. Antunez finished the game two strikeouts on four hits while allowing five earned runs on just two and one third innings of play.
Fullerton senior right hander Laban came in to relief Antunez and didn’t fare well either, allowing a third straight RBI double by Ashby followed by an error by second baseman Lauren Mario that allowed the Cardinal to put another run on the board for a 6-1 lead.
Fullerton had one last chance to make some noise but left fielder Leesa Harris, who opened up the bottom of the third with a single, was stranded at third.
Stanford put three more runs on the board in the top of the fourth inning and then put an exclamation point in the game with a five-run top of the fifth inning to enact the mercy rule as the Titans fail to score in the bottom of the fifth for the 14-1 defeat.
“We didn’t adjust at the plate and pitching obviously today in the first game,” Ford said. “We just can’t let that many runs be put up on the board especially if we only score one run all day.”
The Titans look to rebound from minor setback as they hit the road to compete in the Long Beach State Invitational against Weber State and Virginia Tech at the Mayfield Park in Lakewood on Thursday afternoon.
For more information on the women’s softball team or their upcoming schedule this semester, visit FullertonTitans.con.