The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Softball drops home series against UC Riverside

Junior Megan Stevens hits her 17th double of the season to drive in the lone Matador run of the game in the loss to UC Riverside in the second game of the doubleheader on April 13 at Matador Diamond. That double tied the school record set by Shannon Jones in 1994. Photo credit: John Hernandez

Despite junior Megan Stevens tying the school record for most doubles in a season, the Matadors dropped their first home conference series 2-1 to UC Riverside this past weekend at Matador Diamond.

Sophomore Jillian James pitched the first game, giving up two hits and striking out seven batters on her way to recording her 13th win. It was her 12th complete game and fourth shutout on the season, bringing her record to 13-9, a marked improvement on the 9-19 record she put up last season.

“I think that JJ is great,” said head coach Tairia Flowers. “Her velocity, her movement, we talked to her a lot about having that confidence and being more consistent. I’m really proud of her today because she absolutely didn’t have her best stuff and normally, one pitch works a little bit more for her and she had to figure out how to beat people with a different one. True testament to her as a competitor.”

Going into the bottom of the fourth inning, the game was scoreless. However, that changed when Stevens hit a home run over the left field fence to break it open and give CSUN the 1-0 lead.

“Megan … man that girl can hit,” said Flowers. “I think the best thing about her is just watching her be consistent in her approach, in her attitude, and in her effort and I think that’s why it’s paying off for her. Being able to hit the off-speed and go to all fields.”

The Highlanders intentionally walked Stevens in her last at-bat of the game, finishing 1 for 2 with a walk.

Sophomore Kenedee Jamerson started the second and struggled as she was called for three illegal pitches resulting in three outs being taken away. They continued to struggle defensively and that transitioned to offense as well, as the Matadors were held to four hits in the 8-1 loss.

During the game, Riverside was trying to intentionally walk Stevens after her home run in the first game, but one of the pitches came too close to the plate and Stevens was able to rip a double, bringing her total to 17 on the season. This double put her in a tie for the school record that was set in 1994 by Shannon Jones and with 13 games left in the season, she could reset the record and then some.

“I think it’s just awesome because last year, it was one of the things I was working on … turning to get those doubles to get there faster,” said Stevens.

Flowers shared in Stevens’ excitement as she learned of her achievement.

“That’s exciting. I’m happy for her,” said Flowers. “She’s come into this program and just made us better. Any way she can help us, she didn’t come in as an outfielder, I don’t think she is looking for those accolades, she just wants to figure out what she can do for this team. It’s nice seeing that pay off for her.”

After the pitch, Riverside was able to successfully walk Stevens in her remaining at-bats, ending up with three walks and an RBI to finish the game. She also pitched 3.2 innings after coming in during the third inning and gave up six hits, one run and one walk, bringing her ERA to 2.80 on the season.

“I would just like to see us just compete a little bit better and not wait until the end,” said Flowers, whose team gave up 13 hits in the second game compared to just two in the first. “I think we kind of lost focus a bit. I think we are better and we just need to be ready to come back tomorrow.”

Their struggles continued as the Matadors dropped the third and final game of the series 5-1, losing the series two games to one.

“We fell short in several areas,” said Flowers. “We put ourselves in a position to score some runs in the sixth inning and we got one, but we didn’t come up clutch. Back to the drawing board and hopefully we will get better next week.”

James struggled this time around as she gave up seven hits, four runs, two walks, hit three batters and struck out just two batters, bringing her ERA up to 2.92.

“Maybe they saw her a little bit more and they were able to square up more often,” said Flowers. “I think we missed a couple pitches here and there and they capitalized. That’s what happens when you play a good team that’s hungry.”

Just as it was in the second game, Stevens was not given the opportunity to hit as the Highlanders intentionally walked her all three times she came up to the plate. She finished the series 2 for 3 and seven walks, with six being intentional.

“It’s just a testament to how good (Stevens) is and I don’t blame them,” said Flowers. “I wouldn’t want to get beat by her either, so I think that it stinks for her because she wanted an opportunity but hopefully next week she will get back after it.”

Looking ahead

The Matadors are 19-23 (3-6 Big West) and sit in sixth place in the Big West Conference.

As they get ready for the next set of games, the team will be working on certain areas so that they can come out with less mistakes and take advantage of those missed opportunities.

“We need to take care of ourselves and executing and a little bit of confidence and just staying locked in to every pitch,” said Flowers.

They welcome the 8-31 (2-7 Big West) Cal Poly Mustangs to Matador Diamond April 19-20 as they continue conference play at home.

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