The CSUN softball team snapped their four game losing streak and their 36 scoreless inning streak by taking two out of three games in dramatic fashion against the Syracuse Orange last weekend at Matador Field.
In the first game that was played Saturday morning in front of 213 people, pitching and defense dominated the first five innings as the Matadors beat the Orange 1-0. The game saw Matadors senior Kia Fennell and Syracuse’s Courtney Mosch battle it out over five innings.
The Matadors would finally break through in the sixth off Mosch and reliever Erin Downey. Freshman Jen Whitcomb led off with a bunt single in front of Mosch and advanced to second on a ground out by junior Jen Dishner.
Downey would then enter the game for Mosch and strike out sophomore Laura Hovestreydt. But pinch hitter Emilee Moores ended the Matadors’ scoreless inning streak when the junior doubled to deep center to score Whitcomb.
“It’s never been whether we could score or not,” Moores said, in reference to the 36 inning scoreless streak. “It’s just busting open and doing it because we all knew we could. It was just a matter of when.”
Fennell pitched one of the best games of her collegiate career, striking out a career-high 14 batters in a four-hit shutout.
“I was just focused in my zone,” Fennell said. “I was not worried about all the little distractions when they got hits.”
Mosch was saddled with the loss, allowing one run, three hits and three walks in five and a third innings while striking out three. Downey pitched the final two-thirds of the sixth inning and allowed the game-winning hit to Moores while striking out a pair.
Dishner and Fennell also had singles for the Matadors, who had four hits in the game. Alexis Switenko went 2-for-3 at the plate for the Orange, who also had four hits.
“It feels great to score,” said head coach Barbara Jordan. “We have done a lot of talking in the past 10 days and we are just trying to sort things out, but the bottom line is we just have to play together.”
In game two, which was also played on Saturday, Syracuse got off to a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Melissa Kelly singled in Jaime Grillo, who had a two-out single to start the inning. The Matadors would tie it up in the fourth inning when junior Jan Moshier hit a 2-2 pitch with two outs over the left-center field fence to tie the game at one.
Then in the seventh inning with the score still tied at one, Moshier came up to bat with one out. Facing Downey and another 2-2 count, Moshier homered again, this time to left field for her fourth home run of the season and her third walk-off home run of the year.
“The second it hit the bat, I knew it was gone,” Moshier said. “I had two strikes so I just tried to shorten up but was fortunate enough to get a good part of the bat on the ball.”
Starting pitcher, sophomore Erin Sigala, allowed one run, four hits and two walks while striking out four in four and one-third innings. Fennell relieved her and picked up the win to improve to 5-2 on the season, giving up one hit and striking out two in two and two-thirds innings.
“It was a great hit and I thought they were pitching around her,” Jordan said. “I thought they were just going to throw her rice balls and it was a rice ball. She just stayed on top of it and she got all of it.”
Moshier finished the second game 3-for-3, while Whitcomb, junior Heather Martin and freshman Jackie Duree also had singles. Grillo and Kelly each had two hits for Syracuse. Downey struck out seven in six and a third, allowing six hits and two runs.
The finale was played Sunday morning in front of 376 fans. Syracuse got off to a quick start, scoring two runs in the first inning.
With Chanel Roehner on second after reaching on a fielder’s choice, Cassie Morales hit her first home run of the season to left field to make it 2-0, Syracuse. In the fifth, Syracuse had a chance to add to its lead, but with the bases loaded and one out, starting pitcher Fennell got Mosch to ground into an inning-ending double play.
In the sixth, the Orange added two more runs off reliever Sigala. Shawna Norris led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second when Erin Gray reached on a fielder’s choice.
Katie Kaempfer followed with a single back to the circle to load the bases for Melissa Kelly, who singled to center to score Norris for a 3-0 lead.
Sigala then issued a bases-loaded walk to Tanya Rose to score Gray for a 4-0 lead. Rose was the last batter Sigala faced. She allowed two runs, two hits and two walks without recording an out.
Fennell re-entered to face Roehner, who hit a fly ball to right field for the first out of the inning. However, CSUN would make it a double play when Hovestreydt threw out pinch runner Joscie Kaup at the plate.
“I haven’t got much action out there as far as balls,” Hovestreydt said. “I have a great catcher behind the plate that put up a wall and blocked that girl and she had no chance.”
After Fennell intentionallywalked Morales, she got Alexis Switenko to ground out to second base to hold the Orange to two runs in the inning.
The Matadors would finally break Mosch’s shutout in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to a Syracuse error. Whitcomb drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a passed ball. One out later, Hovestreydt walked and Moshier was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Mosch was able to get Fennell to pop up to third base, but Gray dropped the ball, allowing Whitcomb to score. However, Hovestreydt was called out at home trying to score from second.
“I felt I was around the tag,” Hovestreydt said. “I did not feel like she tagged me.”
Although the Matadors had a run, they were still without a hit heading to their last at-bat.
Junior Heather Martin drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a ground out by freshman Aubrey Fast. Moores, who was a pinch hitter, finally got the Matadors their first hit, recording her second pinch-hit double in as many days to score Martin to make it 4-2.
After Duree sacrificed Moores to third, sophomore pinch hitter Lauren Allen hit a two-out single to left to score Moores to make it 4-3. CSUN would then use another pinch hitter, junior Janine Grund, who singled off the second baseman’s glove to put two runners on for Hovestreydt.
Erin Downey, who struck out Hovestreydt twice in Saturday’s doubleheader, would come in to relieve Mosch and save the game by striking Hovestreydt out again.
Fennell went seven innings and allowed two runs, six hits and four walks while striking out three and dropping her record to 5-3. Mosch went six and two-thirds, limiting the Matadors to three hits and two runs while walking six and striking out five while improving her record to 5-3.
The save for Downey was her third of the season. Kaempfer and Morales each had two hits for Syracuse.
“We have to keep building on these two wins and get stronger,” Jordan said. “I think when everybody understands their roles and stay committed to the team, I think we will get on a roll.”
The next game for the Matadors will be Wednesday against Indiana at 1:30 p.m. at Matador Diamond.