By Maren Angus
When Emily Randall stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh and the Titans down 7-6 against Michigan State on Sunday night in Fullerton, there were so many thoughts racing through her mind.
Earlier in the game, she had committed two errors that led to Michigan State runs and she was 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
“Honestly, she didn’t have the best defensive game and we were just like ‘Can this kid catch a break?’” Fullerton head coach Kelly Ford said. “Boom! Double! Game winner.”
Randall was mobbed by her teammates in celebration after the game-winning run scored. The tears were visible. Two years ago to the day, her father died unexpectedly. Although he may be gone physically, Randall felt his presence in that final at bat.
“Today was really emotional,” said the sophomore through the tears. “Winning that game today felt surreal.”
It was as if Robert Randall created that moment for his daughter. Bryanna Ybarra grounded into a fielder’s choice the play before in which MSU got the force out at home.
“I know she had a lot on her mind today and I just couldn’t have more joy for her,” said Ford. “I felt the tears coming on and after the game in our post talk and I immediately pointed out how special that moment was and how lucky we were to witness it with her.”
The tournament’s namesake and first coach of the Fullerton program, Judi Garman, was also in attendance and threw out the first pitch of the game. Another emotional moment as the coach was moved to tears walking off the field.
“Talk about pressure. She will have a list of things for me to work on after the game but that’s what I ask,” said Ford. “I want to perform for her and so do the athletes and it how you learn to compete.”
The Spartans took a 5-0 lead into the fourth inning but the momentum shifted to the Titans in the bottom half when they took a 6-5 lead. The Titans sent 10 batters to the plate and they took advantage of consecutive run producing hits from Booke Clemetson, Sammie Vandiver and Deshea Hill.
Michigan State’s Lea Foerster homered in the fifth to tie the game at 6-6 and then took the lead in the sixth on an error by Randall.
Singles from Deshea Hill and Ari Williams followed by a walk to Shianne Brannan loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh and the rest is history.
“Hosting such a prestigious tournament makes you appreciate the grounds crew, tournament director, marketing, sports information direction and I really mean that. It really takes everyone to pull this thing off,” said Ford. “With the rain and lights on Field 2 that we had to deal with… there’s just a lot of Titan Pride roaming around this complex and it was an amazing weekend.”
Scores from Sunday
Iowa 3 Baylor 2
Fresno State 3 Cal Poly 2
Louisiana 7 Fresno State 2
Baylor 1 Louisiana 0
Cal Poly 4 Michigan State 3 (8)