Matadors take 11-game winning streak to Long Beach

Gilberto Manzano

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The Cal State Northridge softball team (23-9) dominated last weekend in their Big West Conference series opener, a 3-0 sweep against Pacific. This weekend, the Matadors have a harder test against the defending conference champions, the Long Beach State 49ers (21-14). CSUN will travel to Long Beach to play a three-game series against the champs and look to extend their current 11-game winning streak. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday and conclude the series Sunday afternoon.

CSUN looked nearly unbeatable over the past month and has gone 20-3 in its last 23 games. The Matador pitching staff will have a tough task in containing the Long Beach State bats. As a team CSUN has an ERA of 2.34, third lowest in the conference. The 49ers have a team batting average of .277 and have scored 147 runs. Despite only having played 35 games, Long Beach State already has four players with 30-plus hits.

Long Beach State also has a great pitching staff and a team ERA of 2.88 while only allowing 120 runs. The CSUN bats will need to play a big role if they hope to upset the 49ers on their home field. The Matadors have a team batting average of .259. CSUN’s cleanup hitter Christina Saenz will need to drive in some runs to better the Matadors’ chances against the 49ers. Saenz is batting .381 and has 32 hits.

Sweeping the Tigers was an early statement to the rest of the Big West that CSUN is a contender for the championship. A visiting series win over the defending champs could be the exclamation mark on that statement.

Game 1: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday. 3 p.m.
Game 3: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Place: 49er Softball Complex, Long Beach
Series: Long Beach State leads CSUN 44-39.
Last meeting: April 6, 2008, LBSU 1 @ CSUN 0
Interesting fact: LBSU?is 14-1 in its last 15 meetings with CSUN and has not lost a season series since 2002.

Matador to watch:
Debbie Duran, junior, pitcher

Duran has been incredible on the mound and is an early candidate for Big West Pitcher of the Year. Duran has a league-leading 16 wins and only five defeats. She has the fifth lowest ERA in the Big West at 1.53. Duran isn’t a strikeout pitcher, but her outstanding drop ball gets numerous outs which don’t even leave the infield. Duran has appeared in a Big West-high 27 games this season and pitched 128.1 innings.

49er to watch:
Jennifer Griffin, senior, infielder

Griffin has been a force in 49ers line up. She has a team-high batting average of .330 to go with 33 hits. The senior is leading the league in both runs scored and RBIs. She has scored 27 runs and batted in 29. Griffin’s great college career has earned her accolades such as a like Second-Team All-Big West selection last season. Before LBSU, Griffin played at Tennessee, where she was a two-time SEC Tournament champion.

That’s what she said

Jaclyn Rymer, CSUN first baseman
On the challenge by the beach:

‘We need to come out strong and have our bats score some runs early. We also need to play good defense for our pitchers.’