Rainey finds comfort at Cal State Fullerton

Adna alum gets redo in college recruiting by choosing Titans


Coaches called. They were offering a boatload of pitching opportunities. They were willing to give a long leash in the circle.

As Haley Rainey navigated the craziness of the transfer portal two years ago, she felt she was being told what a lot of softball players want to hear.

“We need you to come in and throw the majority of innings and be (the number one) starter,” Rainey recalled of previous recruiting pitches. “I was looking for something quite a bit different.”

Which was?

“(Other schools) needed me to pitch versus Cal State Fullerton wanted me,” Rainey stated.

Chalk up the rest as history.

Rainey, an Adna High School graduate, stepped into that coveted ace pitcher role and compiled a 17-7 record with a 1.80 earned run average and 151 strikeouts.

Her efforts allowed the Titans to win the Big West Conference and reach a winner-to-super regionals game against eighth-ranked Stanford in the regional round of the NCAA Tournament.

“I was really proud of this year between what our team did this year and my own personal growth,” Rainey said. “I was really excited to keep my position, own it and collect a couple accolades I wanted to get.”

Those honors were being named the Big West Pitcher of the Year and nabbing a spot on the all-conference first team. The right-hander tossed a pair of no-hitters and 10 total complete games.

All a year removed from first stepping into CSF’s program as the No. 2 pitcher out of the portal. Rainey transferred from Idaho State after a standout freshman season where she was dubbed the Freshman of the Year in the Big Sky Conference.

Rainey lost two years of her high school career for the Pirates due to COVID-19. It impacted her first time being recruited, taking zero official visits.

She didn’t even see the Idaho State campus until she arrived.

“It was very interesting to go through that recruiting process again,” Rainey said. “It was almost like the exact opposite thing (of) high school. Entering the portal, I wanted to look for something different. Today’s culture (for) the transfer portal for kids like me that did not get to go through it in high school.”

Rainey faced the Titans her first season and quickly, a relationship was established.

“They talked to me afterwards,” Rainey remembered. “They were hoping I’d end up in the portal.”

Rainey finished her first year in the navy blue and orange with a sub-2.00 ERA and a 9-5 record. She was selected to the all-Big West second team.

When the fall season commenced, there were conversations about bumping Rainey up to be the top pitcher in the rotation.

“They predicted they wanted me to throw the majority of the innings,” Rainey said. “Being mentally capable of doing that for my team. It was my position to lose.”

Still, there were mental hurdles to overcome.

“It is a lot more pressure, like oh my gosh I could lose this position,” Rainey remarked. “In reality, I had to flip it and have more room to grow. I had their trust and they believed in me. I could pitch in a way that moved me forward. I could try really hard for them and keep that trust.”

There was a game against Yale on March 10 that ended up as the turning point in Rainey’s season.

She pitched a complete game, two-hit shutout and one run ended up being enough for the Titans to win the game.

“I was having a hard week, stressed with school and struggling that morning,” Rainey said. “I can do this and really push through that in-school stress. They played really hard for me and I sat down like ‘OK, I can do this.’ I can push through when I’m not my best.”

In the Stanford regional, Rainey beat No. 20 Mississippi State and No. 8 Stanford to keep CSF’s season alive.

There was a moment where the maturity aspect of her game was noticeable.

“I was warming up and I could feel myself getting nervous and excited,” Rainey said. “I looked at the scoreboard, took a deep breath and told myself to throw at 80 percent that it will be my normal 100 percent. I wouldn’t have been able to do that on my own last year.”

Rainey believes the Titans have the pieces for a run to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma next spring. As for her alma mater, she is still a staunch supporter of the Pirates.

She was thrilled that they were able to capture another Class 2B state title.

“I’ve seen them grow up essentially and I love those kids like they’re my little sisters,” Rainey said. “It is really cool to do the thing me and my classmates wish we could have done. I still wear my 2019 state champ t-shirt and still have the ring. Very proud Adna Pirate.”