CSUN gets to postseason for first time since 2004

Ivan Yeo

To say the CSUN Matadors’ softball team had a pretty good weekend is an understatement.

First, the Matadors took two of three games from future Big West Conference member UC Davis at LaRue Field over the weekend, with one of those wins being a combined no-hitter thrown by junior Mercedes Lovato and freshman Amanda Pitzenberger, then as the team made its way back to Northridge, they quickly found out that they would be one of 64 teams participating in the NCAA tournament starting on Thursday.

Against the Aggies, the Matadors used the long ball to draw first blood in game one of Friday’s doubleheader, as sophomore catcher Amanda Peek hit two home runs and senior left fielder Megan Smith hit a two-home run in the third inning. The Matadors’ offense wasn’t the only thing clicking in the first game, as Lovato struck out eight in the circle.

However, UC Davis quickly turned the tables in game two, as Aggie starter Jessica Hancock pitched a complete game shutout, struck out five and allowed only two hits in the second game, as Northridge fell to Davis 1-0 in the nightcap. The Aggies got the lone run in the third inning on a double by Julie Stauder that scored Michelle Espiritu. Matador starter Pitzenberger managed to keep pace with Hancock in circle, as she too allowed only two Aggie hits, but Hancock managed to hold the Matador offense in check in game two.

The Matadors looked to leave Davis with the series win on Saturday, but again, things did not look good early on, as Davis got an unearned run in the third inning without recording a hit. Stauder took first when she was hit by a Pitzenberger pitch. Stauder went to second on a sacrifice and later scored on a Matador error. Davis later loaded the bases, but Pitzenberger got out of the third without any further damage.

Davis took the lead into the seventh until Northridge rallied. The Matadors put a runner on, though the Aggies managed to get to within an out of the win, but Smith wrestled the lead to CSUN with one swing of the bat, as she homered to left on a 0-1 count, putting the Matadors ahead 2-1. Lovato, who had came in to pitch in the fourth inning, shut the door down to end Northridge’s regular season on a good note.

The Matadors ended the regular season with a 23-21-1 record, 9-9 in Big West Conference play, which tied for fourth with Pacific, UC Davis in its final tune-up season before officially joining the Big West Conference, finished with a 31-26-1 record, 10-11 against the Big West.

The Matadors will now look forward to their first postseason appearance since 2004, as they travel to Stanford to play in the Stanford regional. The Matadors and Cardinal will be joined by Louisiana State and Fresno State at Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium this coming weekend. The Matadors’ first game will be against LSU on Thursday at 3 p.m. Matador fans can listen to the game on Gomatadors.com.