Softball: First series victory in the books

Gilberto Manzano

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FIRST SERIES WIN: Matador Mia Pagano pitches against Cal Poly in Saturday’s first game of doubleheader loss at Matador Diamond. CSUN won the last two games to take the series. Photo Credit: Tessie Navarro / Staff Photographer

In what has been a disappointing season thus far, the Cal State Northridge softball team rallied back from a 5-0 deficit to finally capture its first series win, defeating Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 7-5, Sunday at Matador Diamond.

For the three-game Big West Conference series, the Matadors (18-29, 6-9 Big West) were led by senior Kristen Mihm, who was named Big West Player of the Week after batting a perfect 8-for-8 against the Mustangs (8-33, 4-11 Big West).

“It is exciting to receive this award, which I think is a testament to all the hard work I have put in recently,” said Mihm, who has a batting average of .246, to the CSUN athletic department.

“My coaches, especially Caitlin Benyi, have been very helpful in giving me extra batting practice and getting me through a tough start to the season. I also want to thank my teammates who have also been instrumental to my success.”

After a slow start to the season, Mihm has been hitting a conference-high .474 during league play.

Not only does Sunday’s win mark CSUN’s first series victory in six tries, but it’s also the Matadors’ first two-game winning streak since March 19-20 (wins against Ohio State and Ohio in San Diego Classic II).

The defending Big West champion Matadors sit in sixth place in the conference standings and are five games behind league-leaders Long Beach State and the University of the Pacific. Cal Poly, which has struggled all year long, is in last place with a 4-11 league record.

Similar to the last four series, the Matadors dropped the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, 4-2.

With the game tied at 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning, Mustang Stephanie Correia stepped up with a two-out, two-run game-winning single. Northridge had a chance to tie or win the game in the bottom of the seventh with two runners on base, but Tracy Allen fouled out to end the game.

Matador Mia Pagano recorded the loss in six-plus innings of work and Mustang Rebecca Patton was awarded the victory.

CSUN bounced back in game two with a solid performance by starting pitcher Hannah Fraijo to give the Matadors a 4-1 victory.

Junior Jaci Carlsen drove in two runs with three hits and Mihm went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate.

CSUN scored its first run in the first inning and later added three more runs to its lead in the fifth.

Fraijo pitched a shutout into the seventh inning, before Correia lead-off with a solo home run.

In the final game, Northridge entered the fifth inning with a 5-0 disadvantage, before starting its comeback. CSUN scored two runs to cut the deficit to 5-2.

Mihm’s bloop two-run double set the stage for the Matadors’ RBI leader, Mikayla Thielges. The sophomore catcher delivered a three-run double and gave CSUN the victory.