CSUF to host softball powerhouses

The Cal State Fullerton softball team will kick off its season this weekend as it hosts the 2014 Easton Tournament. The three-day tournament will start on Friday and conclude on Sunday.

The Titans will welcome five teams to Anderson Family Field, including the defending national champion Oklahoma Sooners. Other teams include Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara, Pittsburgh and George Washington.

Fullerton looks to continue its momentum from last season after finishing the year winning 12 of its last 15 games. At 28-28 overall, the Titans recorded their first .500 season since 2009.

This season, the Titans are led by reigning 2013 Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year and All-Big West First Team selection Jasmine Antunez. The sophomore set a single-season record for games started by a pitcher with 38 and finished the year 18-14 with a 2.56 ERA. Antunez also struck out 174 batters in 196 2/3 innings.

Senior catcher Ariel Tsuchiyama and junior first baseman Eliza Crawford will lead the way offensively for the Titans. Last season, Tsuchiyama batted .323 with 25 runs batted in while Crawford batted .297 with a team-leading eight home runs and 29 runs batted in.

The Titans will miss the production of junior second baseman Carissa Turang, who will be redshirting this season due to injury. Last season, Turang hit .330, good for sixth in the Big West Conference. She was named to the 2013 All-Big West Conference Second Team.

Recently picked to finish third in the Big West by coaches, the Titans hope to accomplish bigger things this season as the roster includes 13 returnees, including three pitchers. The Titans will start the tournament Friday versus Loyola Marymount at 1 p.m. before a showdown with Oklahoma at 6 p.m.

The Sooners, ranked No. 2 in the nation by USA Softball, hope to continue its dominance from last season after finishing the year 57-4 and winning its second national championship in program history.

Leading the way for the Sooners is junior Lauren Chamberlain. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Chamberlain, who grew up in Trabuco Canyon and attended El Toro High School. Last season, Chamberlain batted .458 with 30 home runs and 84 runs batted in.

Chamberlain became the second player in NCAA history to have multiple 30 home run seasons, also hitting 30 home runs her freshman year in 2012.

Helping Chamberlain out offensively is the 2013 Big 12 Player of the Year Shelby Pendley. Last season, the junior batted .357 with 22 home runs and 73 runs batted in. Both Pendley and Chamberlain were each named to the Top 50 Watch List for the 2014 USA Collegiate Player of the Year Award.

One team the Titans will not face this weekend is the Kentucky Wildcats. Ranked No. 14 in the nation by USA Softball, the Wildcats have big expectations for the season after a promising 2013.
After ending the season with a 41-21 record, setting a single-season school record for wins, the Wildcats return 15 players including eight position starters and two pitchers.

Co-captains Lauren Cumbess and Griffin Joiner will look to lead the Wildcats in 2014.

Last season, Cumbess batted .323 with 13 home runs and 43 runs batted in while Joiner put up nearly identical numbers, batting .322 with 10 home runs and 41 runs batted in. In a matchup of ranked teams, the Wildcats will take on the Sooners on Friday at 3:30 p.m.

On Saturday, the Titans will take on Santa Clara at 10 a.m. and then face Pittsburgh at 5:30 p.m.  The tournament concludes on Sunday as CSUF faces George Washington at 11:30 a.m.

For fans interested in attending the tournament, there are different ticket options to choose from this weekend.  Single game tickets are $8 but fans can also purchase an Easton Tournament day pass for Friday and Saturday for $12. A day pass for Sunday only costs $10.

If fans would like to purchase an all-session pass, which gives admission into all 11 tournament games, the cost is $28 for adults and $21 for children ages 3-12.

For more information on the CSUF softball team and all Titan Athletics, go to FullertonTitans.com.

About Johnny Navarrette

Johnny Navarrette is a staff writer from the Spring 2014 COMM 471 class.