After Cal State Northridge lost its rubber-game against University of the Pacific, 5-1, on Sunday, Matador Mikayla Thielges, one of the hottest hitters in the Big West Conference, expressed her displeasure in the team’s lack of production at the plate.
“It’s tough to lose a series, it definitely stinks to keep losing,” said sophomore catcher Thielges, who hit a solo bomb to left field in the series finale to record her league-leading 11th home run. “But we still feel like we are right there. We just need a few clutch plays here and there.”
With Pacific (27-14, 6-3 Big West) leading 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth innning, the Matadors (15-26, 3-6 Big West) had a golden opportunity to tie the game as they had a runner on second base with one out. Unfortunately for CSUN, pinch-hitter Leann Lopez flied out and Jessica Fridwall grounded out to end the inning.
Northridge left six runners on base in the loss.
“We put ourselves in a situation to win the game and we had opportunities, but we just didn’t come through when it counts,” said head coach Tairia Flowers about the Matadors, who have yet to win a three-game series in four tries. “I don’t think they’re quite confident with themselves.”
The defending Big West-champion Matadors have now fallen four games behind conference-leader Cal State Fullerton, which is 7-2 in Big West play. Northridge has lost 11 of its last 14 games.
Thielges, whose 34 runs batted in rank second in the conference, is looking at the bright side of CSUN’s slump.
“To turn it around takes a lot of mental strength and toughness,” she said. “Losing isn’t always a bad thing. Losing can sometimes make you a tougher person and player.”
Flowers remains optimistic about the Matadors’ chances of turning it around and repeating as conference champions.
“We just need to come up with those crucial hits or catches here and there,” Flowers said. “We competed well against one of the top teams in the Big West (Pacific), so never say die until the end and look at positives.”
Tigers pitcher Nikki Armagost pitched a complete game and allowed five hits with seven strikeouts.
Northridge starting pitcher Mia Pagano had a rough first inning, allowing two runs. Pagano had a chance to leave the inning scoreless if it wasn’t for an error by shortstop Karla Chaparro.
The Matadors and Tigers spilt a doubleheader at Matador Field on Saturday afternoon.
In game one, Pacific jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning on CSUN starter Carly Wade en route to a 9-7 victory over the Matadors.
Northridge was able to score two runs in the bottom of the first inning, however, Wade allowed four more runs in the top of the second inning. Trailing 9-2 in the bottom of the seventh, CSUN rallied back with five runs before coming up short.
The Matadors recorded 10 hits compared to the Tigers’ nine.
CSUN’s lone win in the series came in game two of the doubleheader, 5-3. Pagano received the victory as she had a no-hit bid in the sixth inning before allowing two hits.
Matador Jennifer Mosier had four hits and three RBIs.
The Matadors continue Big West play on Friday with a doubleheader at UC Santa Barbara and conclude the series on Saturday.