Softball team takes three steps back in Georgia

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The CSUN softball team traveled to Columbus, Georgia last weekend to take part in the 10th annual NFCA Leadoff Classic. After having nine straight games postponed or cancelled due to rain and a 21-day layoff as a result of the inclement weather, the Lady Matadors hoped to shake off some rust and continue their early season success.

Entering the tournament, CSUN was hoping to build on their 4-1 record but, with the team facing several tough non-conference opponents in a three-day span, the task would prove uneasy.

On day one, Northridge got off to a good start by winning the opener 7-2 over 17th ranked Nebraska, led by junior catcher Jan Moshier. Moshier blasted a three-run home run in a seven run fifth inning, giving the Matadors an impressive victory against the Cornhuskers.

However, the nightcap would be a different story from an offensive production standpoint, as Northridge lost in a tight pitching duel, 2-1 to the Massachusetts Minute-women. The Matadors’ bats were silent because of the masterful pitching performance from Barb LaFogg, who struck out 14 batters in the victory.

Northridge continued to struggle offensively the following day and were shut out in both games played in the round-robin competition, losing to 16th-ranked Georgia 6-0 and Southern Illinois 4-0. The Matadors’ were hindered by their inability to bring home runners in scoring position, as the team left a combined total of 16 runners on base in the two losses Saturday.

The loss against Georgia was especially frustrating because the team was in position to score several times against bulldog pitcher Katie Griffith, but in each case, Northridge was unable to execute a clutch hit. In the sixth and seventh innings respectively, the Matadors’ left runners at second and third with one-out, capping an utterly frustrating day.

The club was hoping to rebound from the three straight losses and salvage the long trip, when the team faced the North Carolina Tar Heels Sunday. Offensively, the Matadors broke out of their scoreless rut early on with a sacrifice fly from Emilee Moores, which scored Jen Dishner for the team’s first run in 18 innings.

With the run, Northridge got on the scoreboard ahead of their opponent for the first time in six games.

But the team could not carry any sort of momentum because Mother Nature wreaked havoc. Rain interrupted another game, this time in the middle of the third inning, forcing the eventual cancellation of the finale. Sunday’s rainout made it a total of 10 games that have been cancelled due to rain this season.

Senior pitcher Kia Fennell was outstanding in her rain-shortened outing, striking out five over the first 2 1/3 innings before the game was postponed. Despite Fennell’s superb output, none of her statistics will count, because the game did not reach the five innings needed to count the game as official.

Northridge ended the tournament with a disappointing 1-3 record, dropping their overall totals to five wins and four losses. The team will look to get healthy at home and forget about its trip to Georgia when they host Loyola Marymount in a doubleheader at Matador diamond, Thursday afternoon.

In fact, if the weather stays clear, CSUN will finally get to play a considerable amount of home games in the next few weeks with the hope of accumulating wins and improving on it’s record. The next 12 games on Northridge’s schedule will be played at Matador diamond.

During the home stand, several Big West rivals will visit Northridge, including three games against Utah State and three more against Pacific. Also scheduled to play CSUN are Syracuse and Indiana.