Former conference rivals face off in UCLA Regional

By Daniel Reedy:

It’s been over 20 years since San Jose State competed in the Big West Conference, but the Spartans will take on a former in-conference foe to begin the NCAA Tournament.

SJSU prepares this week for Thursday’s battle with the Cal State Fullerton Titans (33-21, 16-5 in conference).

While SJSU head coach Peter Turner admitted a bye to the College World Series would have been preferable, he is content with the matchup.

“I am pleased with the location and the opponents that are in it,” Turner said.

He said the short distance (one-hour flight) was beneficial, especially with spring semester finals approaching.

SJSU hasn’t had success in the tournament and is 0-6 all time but Turner isn’t worried.

“[The Spartans] are trained to win,” Turner said. “If they follow the script, we’ll be fine.”

However, there is a glaring experience difference between the teams entering the contest.

Fullerton’s lineup typically features three underclassmen. SJSU’s usually has five. Fullerton has won back-to-back Big West Conference titles and enters the program’s second consecutive tournament appearance.

Spartans right fielder Casey Watt is the only remaining player from the last SJSU team to make the tournament.

“I can’t express how grateful I am to have a second opportunity at this not everyone gets that chance.”

Watt has been vocal on and off the field all season long.

“[Watt] told us all year, this is what we work for,” said first baseman Madison Aurin. “She really helped us all year.”

Aurin did her part this year from the plate, leading the team hits (fourth in conference).

“I feel like we’ll put up a really good fight against Fullerton,” Aurin said. “I feel like it’ll be a really good game.”

The Spartans and Titans head to battle May 18 at 9 p.m.

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