Even in softball, UCLA wins a close one

Ivan Yeo

The Cal State Northridge softball team showed the UCLA Bruins it was not intimidated by its 28-1 record and showed that the Matadors were certainly capable of hanging with the No. 1-ranked team in the nation.

In the end, though, it was UCLA’s Kelly Colburn who came through. Her RBI single in the top of the sixth inning, as well as her key catch of a junior Megan Smith flyball in the bottom half on the sixth, lifted the Bruins to a 1-0 win over the upset-minded Matadors March 25 at Matador Diamond.

“We played great,” said head coach Barbara Jordan. “We set new standards for how we want to come into conference.”

Freshman pitcher Selena Salazar had a superb afternoon inside the circle for the Matadors. She pitched a complete game, striking out six and getting out of some tough situations throughout the afternoon.

“I came out wanting it,” Salazar said. “I really wanted this game and I came out with everything.”

“She did a nice job,” Jordan said of Salazar’s effort. “It was very impressive for a freshman pitcher to pitch the way she did against one of the top teams in the country. She had a great day.”

Salazar worked her way out of trouble starting in the third inning. Andrea Duran led off with a single only to be thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice by Colburn. The next batter, Caitlin Benyi, walked. Following a Emily Zaplatosch flyout to center, Jodie Legaspi walked to load the bases, but Salazar got out of it when Lisa Dodd grounded out to second.

UCLA threatened again in the fourth when Whitney Holum led off with a walk, then after Ashley Herrera popped out to the catcher, Tara Henry singled and Duran hit a sacrifice flyball to right to advance the runners.

Salazar made sure that they didn’t get any further as she struck out Colburn to end the threat.

In the top of the fifth, Benyi led off with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. She later took third on a sacrifice bunt by Zaplatosch, then Legaspi stepped up and hit a liner that glanced off freshman shortstop Amanda Peek’s glove. But freshman Micah Putnam was where she needed to be and caught the liner behind Peek. The next batter Dodd, once again lined out to first to end the threat.

The Bruins finally broke through in the sixth. Salazar retired the first two batters. but the next batter, Henry, reached on a bunt. Duran walked and Colburn hit a liner up the middle into center field, enabling Henry to score from second, giving UCLA the lead.

CSUN fought back in its half of the sixth. Senior Jamie Pederson reached first when she hit a grounder to third base. Duran’s throw, however, was wide, forcing first baseman Herrera off the bag. Freshman Stacy Milne pinch ran for Pederson and Putnam hit into a fielder’s choice, though it was Milne who was out at second. Peek then hit a grounder to Legaspi, but she couldn’t make a play and both runners were safe. Junior third baseman Kelly Zakosek advanced both runners on a sacrifice bunt and the Smith stepped to the plate and hit a long flyball to left field that looked like a sure hit. Colburn, however, raced over and made the running catch near the left field wall to preserve the UCLA lead.

“I didn’t think it was out,” Jordan said. “But I thought it was going to fall in.”

UCLA pitcher Dodd also was solid in the circle, as she pitched a complete game, striking out three, walking only one and allowing only two hits.

With the loss, CSUN is now 11-10 on the season. The Matadors open up conference play next weekend by hosting defending two-time conference champion Long Beach State April 1 with a double header starting at Noon at Matador Diamond.

Ivan Yeo can be reached at ivan.yeo.80@csun.edu.