Matadors are a looong shot

    The Cal State Northridge softball team (27-20, 7-11 Big West) will wrap up its 2009 regular season this weekend as it travels to UC Davis (21-30, 5-13) to play a three-game series.

    The Matadors and the Aggies will play a doubleheader Friday and will conclude the series Saturday afternoon.

    If the Matadors take care of business this weekend, they can get their third 30-win season of the decade and will have a greater opportunity at clinching an NCAA Regionals berth.

    The Matadors have a resume that might lure the NCAA committee into granting them a playoff spot. CSUN ranks 77th in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and is 12-6 against non-Big West Conference opponents.

    Some of the Matadors are not thinking about the postseason because it’s not in their hands at this point. They’re just focusing on playing hard this weekend.

    ‘We need to compete, play how we know we can and have no regrets after we play the final game,’ Matadors pitcher Amanda Pitzenberger said. ‘But the choice is not up to us either way and we just need to compete and do our part.’

    If somehow Northridge gets into the playoffs, it will be their first trip since 2007, year in which the Matadors were eliminated by losing to LSU, 3-2, and Stanford, 3-0.

    In order for CSUN to beat the Aggies, they will need senior Micah Putman to continue her excellent play with the bat. For the season, Putman is batting .291 overall and .315 against Big West opponents. The infielder is first on the team (fourth in the conference) with 32 RBIs.

    UC Davis will be looking to play spoiler this weekend by putting a damper on the Matadors’ postseason hopes. UC Davis is second to last in the Big West standings, but is still a tough match-up for anyone in the conference.

    The Aggies pitching staff is one of the best in the league. They have a team ERA of 1.89, which is second best in the Big West. Alex Holmes and Jessica Hancock are their aces. Holmes has a record of 8-17 with a 1.84 ERA and 103 strikeouts. Hancock has a record of 13-12 with a 1.91 ERA and 167 strikeouts.

    The Aggie pitchers do have some weaknesses, however. They’re known for getting into jams and it’s up to the Matadors bats to take advantage. CSUN can’t afford to leave many runners on base. Putman, Jaclyn Rymer and Christina Saenz will need to get some crucial RBIs.

    The Matadors’ pitchers also have to do their part against a terrific UC Davis lineup. Last week’s Big West Pitcher of the Week, Hannah Fraijo, had a horrible outing against Cal State Fullerton over the weekend and will be looking to bounce back against the Aggies. She has a record of 7-3 with an ERA of 2.56

    Debbie Duran had a decent game last week against the Titans, but once again the Matador bats didn’t give her the run support she needed in order to pick up the win. Duran will need to bring her best game when she faces UC Davis.

    The Aggies have three players with over 40 hits. For the season, the team has a total of 323. Freshman Kelley Harman is having a remarkable season for them. She is batting a team-high .288 with 42 hits and 23 RBIs. Also contributing in stellar fashion is senior Belinda Paine, who has 45 hits.

    The Matadors will find out this weekend just how bad they want to keep their season alive.