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Softball: CSUN sweeped by Hawai’i in three game series

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Pitcher Mia Pagano loads up a pitch against UCLA on March 6 at home. File Photo / Daily Sundial

Opening it’s Big West Conference play against the conference’s newest addition, CSUN’s softball team lost to the 20th-ranked Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine Sunday afternoon 9-3, culminating a three-game sweep by the Rainbow Wahine (25-7, 3-0 BWC).

After playing two tight contests on Saturday afternoon that Northridge (14-21, 0-3) lost 5-4 and 5-3, the Matadors would never lead or threaten Hawai’i throughout Sunday’s game.

“Competitively as a team we are right there, we are competing every day, every time at practice,” said senior third baseman Tiffini Lucero, who went 1-3 with an RBI. “We are looking pretty good for conference, all that hard work is finally paying off and its nice to see all of us coming together and working as a team.”

Threatening early, the Rainbow Wahine loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning off of a walk and two fielder’s choices. Senior pitcher Mia Pagano was able to escape the jam after allowing one run on a bases loaded walk.

Hawai’i again threatened in the third inning. With runners on second and third, Hawai’i senior shortstop Jessica Iwata hit a sacrifice fly to left field allowing a runner to score, but the third base umpire said the runner left too early and the Matadors escaped the third without giving up a run.

A reversed call in the fourth inning changed the fortunes of the game for the Matadors. What was initially called a line drive out and the doubling up of a runner at first base was overturned after a conference by the umpires. The reversal of the call gave the Rainbow Wahine runners on second and third with two outs.

Northridge would give up five runs with two outs to Hawai’i after that call, with the next batter hitting a two-run single.

“That’s the way the game goes,” said head coach Tairia Flowers. “Sometimes a tough break or the momentum shifts, we had opportunities to maybe not let it get so big, but they did a good job of capitalizing.”

Pagano would be responsible for five of the runs that crossed the plate in the inning, pulled after 3.2 innings after giving up six runs, five hits and walking four with no strikeouts.

Senior pitcher Alexa Limon came in to stop the bleeding in the fourth, but was unable to record an out, giving up two hits and one run. The third pitcher of the inning senior pitcher Shelly Tait came in and recorded the final out for CSUN.

Held to one hit throughout the first four innings, CSUN’s bats came alive in the last three, recording eight of their nine hits.

“All of us went up there pretty relaxed looking for our pitch,” Lucero said. “We were just feeding off each other, reading (the pitcher’s) body language and knowing that we need to be attacking on offense.”

An illegal pitch by Hawai’i senior pitcher Kaia Parnaby in the fifth inning overturned a strikeout and advancing a Northridge runner to second. A wild pitch strikeout allowed the batter to reach first and the runner to score from second, the Matadors first run of the game.

Going into the sixth inning down 9-1, the mercy-rule was in effect for CSUN, needing to score a run in order to extend the game. Able to score a run off a single and throwing error, the Matadors extended the game into the seventh.

Only able to score one more run in the seventh off of a sacrifice bunt and throwing error, the Matadors rally came up short.

“That’s a good team and our girls confidence is getting greater and greater,” Flowers said. “Seeing that who we have played throughout the season, we can hang with anybody, we just need to do it a little sooner.”

 

 

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