Matadors get UC Riverside for last homestand

Gilberto Manzano

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Despite getting swept last weekend by No. 22 Cal Poly, the Cal State Northridge softball team (24-17) still believes it can win the Big West Conference. However, it seems like the Matadors will have to win the rest of their conference games in order for them to have a realistic chance at that. Their gauntlet begins this weekend against the UC Riverside Highlanders. The three-game series will be the final homestand of the regular season for Northridge.

The Matadors have been in a recent funk, losing eight of their last nine games. The Matadors shouldn’t expect to get back to their winning ways just because they’re playing the Highlanders, team that has as many losses as CSUN has wins. UCR possesses great hitters and a deep pitching staff.

The Matadors will need their ace Debbie Duran to make the Highlanders hit into easy ground outs. Duran has a record of 16-11 with an ERA of 2.37. The Matadors will also need big contributions from their cleanup hitter Christina Saenz. Saenz has a batting average of .324 with 36 hits and 24 RBIs.

The Matadors are second-to-last in the Big West standings, but still have a slim chance at the conference title. First, they have to take care of UC Riverside, who is in the middle of the pack in the standings. The Matadors can’t afford to lose another game to a Big West opponent. After this weekend, they will have six more games left in the regular season. All on the road.

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 20-1
Last meeting: May 4, 2008, UCR 1 @ CSUN 2
Interesting fact: Last Sunday, the Highlander softball program set a record by winning its six Big West game.

Matador to watch:
Micah Putman, senior, infielder

Putnam has been swinging the bat great despite the Matadors’ recent struggles. She’s racked up seven hits and four RBIs in the last four games. The infielder leads the ball club in RBIs with 28. Putman has brought her batting average up to .282 and has 31 hits for the season. The senior is second on the team with seven doubles and is first in triples with two. Putman will have to continue her excellent play this weekend in order for the Matadors to climb up in the Big West standings.

Highlander to watch:
Marissa Alvidrez, junior, pitcher

Alvidrez hasn’t been having the great season she is capable of, but has been a great leader for the Highlanders. Alvidrez ranks first in Highlanders’ career batting average and slugging percentage. She also ranks second all-time on base percentage and homeruns. Last year, Alvidrez had a magnificent season leading the Highlanders in batting average, hits, doubles, homeruns, and RBIs. Alvidrez needs to start playing the way she did last season if the Highlanders want to win the Big West title.

That’s what she said

Jaclyn Rymer, CSUN first baseman
On how the Matadors will get out of their funk:

‘As a team, we must work through this adversity. (We have to) work hard to get a little better each day and things will turn around.’