Softball: Matadors start season at Kajikawa Classic

Gilberto Manzano

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After coming off a Big West Conference title in the 2010 season, the CSUN softball team took a step back last year with an overall record of 22-31 and a fifth-place finish in the league standings.

The Matadors will try to bounce back in 2012 as the they kick off the season this weekend at the Kajikawa Classic held on the campus of Arizona State.

During the tournament, CSUN will face five teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year, starting with a doubleheader Friday against Stanford and Syracuse.

The following day, the Matadors have another two-game slate versus Nebraska and Western Michigan. They conclude the tournament Sunday against Arizona.

It will be the third straight year CSUN opens the season with the Kajikawa Classic. A year ago, the Matadors finished 3-2 in the Tempe tournament while dropping their two games versus ranked opponents.

Northridge will return its top hitters: junior catcher Mikayla Thielges and utility senior Jaci Carlsen. Thielges was second in the Big West in RBI (45) and home runs (12) and Carlsen led the Matadors with a .327 batting average and 50 hits.

The Matador pitching staff includes two freshmen and two junior transfers. Mia Pagano is the only returning pitcher, but the junior only appeared in 17 games last season.