Unlike most college students, the Cal State Northridge softball team did not go anywhere for spring break. They finished their season-long 12 game home stand against a variety of teams, including a few conference rivals.
CSUN played their last non-conference game and got a 2-1 victory over the struggling Indiana Hoosiers at Matador Field. The win put the Matadors back above .500 and gave the Hoosiers their ninth straight loss.
Game one remained scoreless with neither team having any good scoring chances until the top of the fifth inning. Indiana’s Rachel Terry led off the inning with a double to right-center and advanced to third on a wild pitch by starting pitcher Kia Fennell. Kari Bettenbrock followed by lifting a ball to center field deep enough to score Terry and make it 1-0.
In the bottom of the fifth, junior Heather Martin led off the inning with a triple to right-center, her second triple of the season. She scored one batter later when sophomore Kelly Zakosek singled to shallow right field tying the score at one.
“I knew I had to do something besides pop-up,” Martin said. “I was surprised coach (third-base coach Jason Cline) told me to go to third because I thought she (Indiana right-fielder Lauren Hines) got to the ball quicker then she did, but I just followed coach.”
With two outs and Zakosek at second after stealing her fifth base of the season, sophomore Laura Hovestreydt came to the plate. Hoverstreydt hit a little flair that landed in shallow right scoring Zakosek and giving CSUN a 2-1 lead.
The one run lead was all Fennell needed. The Hoosiers had just one runner reach base after the fifth, on an error, but it did not result in a run. Fennell retired the side in the seventh to improve to 6-3 on the season. She gave up one earned run, on four hits, with six strikeouts and for the third time in four appearances, did not issue a walk.
Megan Roark went the distance for Indiana, allowing two runs, a walk and five hits while striking out four. Along with Terry’s double, Heather Hohs, Jennilee Huddleston and Tory Yamaguchi each had singles for Indiana.
“The last few wins have been good for us going into conference play,” Head Coach Barbara Jordan said. “We have brought more enthusiasm and heart and the team needs to know that they can beat anybody.”
The Matadors were forced to play a triple-header Sunday because rain postponed Saturday’s doubleheader. Conference play began against the Utah State Aggies and it was all CSUN the first two games, as the Matadors exploded for 17 runs and 20 hits.
Junior Jan Moshier got things started in the first of three games when she led off with a single in the bottom of the second and senior Kia Fennell followed with her first home run of the season giving CSUN a 2-0 lead.
Then in the bottom of the third with one out, junior Emille Moores singled and Moshier and Fennell had back-to-back walks to load the bases for Martin. She responded with a double to clear the bases and make it 5-0, CSUN.
Utah State eventually got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth when Candice Hatch doubled home Roxanne Ritchie making it 5-1. In the bottom of the inning Moshier led off with a double. With one out, Martin came up to bat and singled in Moshier making it 6-1.
Six runs was more than enough for Fennell as the senior threw a complete-game, striking out eight while allowing just three hits and a run.
“The girls who have been on the team before came out and set a good example for everybody else,” said Jordan. “The whole team did a great job.”
In the next game, CSUN got a run in the bottom of the first when Fennell singled to score junior Jen Dishner making it 1-0. In the third, Dishner led off with a single and Moores hit her first home run of the year to make it 3-0.
“I thought it was just a deep fly ball,” Moores said. “I had been working on the inside pitch for two and a half years and it’s good to know that I can take one.”
In the top of the fourth, Utah State made it 3-1 when Kelly Leos drove in Jenna McCartney on a sacrifice fly.
However, in the bottom half of the fourth with two outs and the bases loaded, Moores drew a walk to bring in Sigala making the score 4-1. Moshier then singled to center to score Hovestreydt and Dishner for a 6-1 lead. After Moshier stole second, Fennell followed with another single to center to score Moores and Moshier, making it 8-1.
Martin then singled and both she and Fennell moved up a base after a wild pitch. Cochran followed with a single to left to score Fennell and Martin to make it 10-1. Sigala rounded out the scoring, singling in Cochran to give CSUN an 11-1 win, thanks to the mercy rule.
Sigala went the distance, allowing one run on two hits and one walk with four strikeouts. Utah’s Jessica Garnett went all four innings, allowing all 11 runs, 11 hits, four walks while striking out two.
“It was pure momentum,” Moores said about the team’s eight run fourth inning. “Not only did we know we were going to get eight runs, Utah State knew we were going to get eight runs and there was nothing they could do to stop us.”
The next game would remain scoreless until the fourth-inning when Utah State scored three times, thanks to an RBI double by Kelly Leos and RBI singles by Hatch and Ritchie. The Aggies added one more run in the sixth to make it 4-0 when Shawn Bjarnson scored on a wild pitch. CSUN could not get anything done in the seventh inning and lost the game 4-0.
Fennell started for CSUN and allowed three runs and six hits in four innings while striking out six. Sigala relieved her in the fifth and gave up a run, a walk and two hits in three innings with four strikeouts.
“I think we need a little more killer instinct,” said Jordan. “The other team is not going to roll over and die for us just because we pounded out a bunch of hits. We did not bring out the same attitude in the last game.”
The last series of CSUN’s home stand was with conference rival Pacific. In game one of the doubleheader, the Tigers and the Matadors played three scoreless innings until the Tigers got on the board in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Jennifer Curtier walked and Brandi Gordon singled to center to put two runners on. Ashlie D’Errico followed with a bases-clearing double to give Pacific a 2-0 lead.
CSUN responded with four runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-2 lead. Moores started the inning with a walk, Moshier reached on an error and Fennell singled to load the bases. Martin followed by grounding out to short, bringing home pinch-runner Darcy Hillstrom to make it 2-1.
Cochran then singled to left, scoring Moshier and tying it at two. Junior Janine Grund then doubled to left-center field, scoring Fennell and Cochran.
Pacific answered with a run in the fifth, but Northridge came right back when Martin singled in Dishner, who had led off the inning with a single, making it 5-3.
In the sixth, Curtier doubled to lead off the inning and came home when Gordon hit a single to left. Pacific would tie the contest to force extra innings with a run in the seventh.
Pacific would finish out its scoring with two more in the eighth. Gordon hit a leadoff double and advanced to third on a sacrifice by D’Errico. Crystal Presson followed with a squeeze bunt, but Fennell’s flip to home plate was dropped by catcher Aubrey Fast, scoring Gordon and making it 6-5. One out later, Harrell doubled to right-center to score Presson and make it 7-5. The Matadors could not score in the bottom of the inning and lost their first extra-inning game of the year.
Fennell started for the Matadors and allowed four earned runs, nine hits and two walks in seven and two-thirds innings with seven strikeouts.
“I was not hitting my spots as well as I should have been,” Fennell said. “We were not communicating as well as we should have
been and they capitalized on the mistakes that we made.”
Natalie King went all eight innings for the Tigers allowing five runs on six hits, with three walks while striking out four Matador batters.
“We had the first game,” Jordan said. “We did everything better then them the first five innings, we pitched better, we hit better but in the last two innings, they did those things better.”
In game two of the double header, Pacific went ahead with a run in the top of the second inning. Curtier led off with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a Gordon sacrifice hit. D’Errico followed with a single to right to score Curtier to make it 1-0.
The Tigers added another run in the fifth when Lizzie Hagen doubled and came home on an RBI single by Carbonatto. Pacific would go up 3-0 in the seventh when Michelle Anunciation singled in Carbonatto
The three runs were all Jorgensen needed as the freshman threw a no-hitter until two outs in the bottom of the seventh when Cochran came up and hit a homerun to pull CSUN within a run. Grund pinch hit for Pederson but grounded out to third to end the game.
Jorgensen went the distance for the Tigers allowing two runs on just that one hit, with five strikeouts and three walks.
Sigala also went all seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, with eight strikeouts and three walks.
“I felt like I was in rhythm,” Sigala said. “I just should not have given up that many hits but good hitters hit good pitches.”
The finale of this series was played Sunday and CSUN wasted no time by getting on the board in the first inning. With one out, Hovestreydt at second and Dishner at first, Moores hit a double over the right fielder’s head to score Hovestreydt to make it 2-0. One out later, Martin grounded a ball to Anunciation, who bobbled it, allowing Dishner to score to make it 3-0.
Pacific got a run back in the fourth. Carbonatto led off with a single and stole second. Two outs later, Curtier singled to center scoring Carbonatto to make it 3-1.
The Matadors broke the game open with two runs in the fifth. With one out, Moshier walked and Martin hit a triple down the right-field line. Fennell followed with a double to right scoring Martin for a 5-1 lead.
The Tigers made it 5-2 in the seventh when Curtier led off with a double and Brandi Gordon singled her in, but Fennell retired the final three hitters, including Lindsey Garehime on a strikeout to end the game. Fennell struck out seven and allowed two runs, five hits and one walk.
“Last night I did a lot of thinking about the game and what I could do better,” Fennell said. “I wanted to attack the batters a lot more. I wanted to be more aggressive.”
This win was very special for Jordan who won her 100th career game as a head coach.
“I am so excited that this is my 100th win,” Jordan said. “I worked for every single one of them but it feels great.”
The Matadors (11-10) will be on the road for the next six games, starting next weekend when CSUN travels to UC Davis for a three-game series.