CSUN trying to get ahead of the pack

Gilberto Manzano

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After snapping a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 win at UC Santa Barbara Wednesday, the Cal State Northridge softball team (23-14) looks to continue to turn the corner at home this weekend. It won’t be an easy task as the Matadors will face No. 25 Cal Poly (28-9).

The three-game series starts on Saturday with a doubleheader. The remaining game will be played Sunday.

Before getting the streak-snapper against the Gauchos, the Matadors had not been playing their best softball in the Big West. CSUN was the only team to start 3-0 in conference, but since lost five consecutive league games. The Matadors are in a four-way tie for fourth place in the Big West. The Mustangs are one of two first-place teams.

The Matador bats will face a great Cal Poly pitching staff. The one-two punch of Mustangs Anna Cahn and Helen Pena bring many problems for batters. Both Cahn and Pena have two of the four lowest ERAs in the conference. Matadors Jaclyn Rymer and Karla Chaparro will be the keys for the CSUN bats to defeat the Mustang pitchers. If Rymer and Chaparro get on base, they will provide opportunities for their cleanup hitter Christina Saenz to bring them home. However, that will be a tough task. Cal Poly has only allowed 83 runs all year.

The CSUN pitching staff will need Debbie Duran to pitch the way she did in March, when most of the batters she faced hit into ground outs. Duran has a record of 16-8 with an ERA of 2.22.

Cal Poly brings a lot of firepower to the plate with five players who bat over .300. All five of those Mustangs have 30-plus hits for the season.

Northridge (24-14, 4-5 Big West) vs. Cal Poly (28-9, 7-2)

Game 1: Saturday, 12 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Game 3: Sunday, 12 p.m.

Place: Matador Diamond, Northridge
Series: CSUN leads 64-35-1

Last meeting: April 20, 2008, CSUN 0 @ CP 5
Interesting Fact: Cal Poly is currently in an all-time best 18-game home winning streak. However, this season, they’re 1-4 as the away team.

Matador to watch:
Christina Saenz, junior, outfielder

Saenz has been the Matadors cleanup hitter for nearly the entire season. She is batting a team-high .361, which is the fifth highest batting average in the Big West. Saenz has been doing her job in the middle of the order by collecting 35 hits and driving in 23 runs. Last weekend in game one of a doubleheader against UC Santa Barbara, Saenz drove in three runs. The outfielder is also first on the team in slugging percentage with .454 and hasn’t committed an error in the outfield.

Mustang to watch:
Anna Cahn, sophomore, pitcher

Cahn has been a force on the mound and in the batter’s box. Cahn is fourth on the team and fifteenth in the league in batting average at .321.Cahn has recorded 34 hits and 22 RBIs in 106 at-bats. The six-foot-one designated hitter is also a great pitcher. Cahn has a league-high 18 wins and only five losses. The Mustangs have used Cahn in a league-high 175.2 innings. She is also fourth in the conference with an ERA of 1.67 and second in strikeouts with 128.

That’s what she said

Debbie Duran, junior, pitcher
On the inconsistent Big West season:

‘We just need to do the little things and work together as a team. Having all of our gears working at the same time and we’ll be good.’