February 4, 2009

Matador Softball Opens 2009 Season at Cathedral City Kickoff

Feb. 4, 2009

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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The Cal State Northridge softball team embarks upon its 2009 season at the Cathedral City Kickoff, playing six games over a three-day span against teams from throughout the country. The Matadors will face Liberty University, Fordham, Georgia, Wisconsin, Southern Illinois and No. 14 Fresno State in the tournament at Big League Dreams Park.

Northridge head coach Barbara Jordan returns for her eighth season at the helm of the Matador softball program, returning six starters from last year's squad that finished 23-24 overall and 12-9 for a third-place finish in the Big West Conference.

Among the notable returners for CSUN is junior first baseman Jaclyn Rymer, who earned All-Big West First Team honors after leading all league first basemen in batting average at .273, including a .298 clip against Big West opponents.

Rymer finished the year with 33 hits, 20 runs, five doubles and 11 RBIs. She also led the team in stolen bases for the second-straight year, finishing 10-of-12 on the base paths. In the field, she committed only three errors in 282 chances to sport a .989 fielding percentage.

Another key returner for the Matador offense is junior Alexandria Alvarado. A 2008 All-Big West Honorable Mention, Alvarado batted .289 and led the team with 12 doubles. She also finished with 37 hits, 23 runs, 17 RBIs and was a perfect 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts.

Among the infielders, senior Micah Putnam looks to continue a trend that has seen her batting average rise each season since her freshman year. She hit .279 last year and set new career highs with four home runs, 36 hits and 23 runs scored. Putnam also led the team in sacrifice hits with 11 and was 6-for-7 in stolen base attempts.

Other hitters to watch for Northridge are sophomore Tracy Allen, who smacked three home runs in her rookie season, junior Lauren Olivas, who hit .273 against Big West Conference opponents, and sophomore Karla Chaparro, who hit. 250 in league play.

Despite hitting .190 last year, junior Christina Saenz did drive in 15 runs and will look to regain her form from 2007, when she hit .363. Matador head coach Barbara Jordan is also encouraged by the potential of freshman Jaci Carlsen.

In the circle, junior Amanda Pitzenberger is the only returning pitcher for the Matadors from 2008. She posted a 3-6 record with a 3.15 ERA while walking a conference-low 17 batters. She also had three saves on the season to finish in a tie for 47th in the country and could play a similar role for Northridge in 2009.

The new rotation for Jordan and the Matadors includes junior DEBORAH DURAN, graduate student Claire Rietmann-Grout and freshman Hannah Fraijo. Duran spent two season at San Jose City College while Reitmann-Grout arrives at CSUN having spent three years with Towson.

Hailing from Lynchburg, Va., the Flames are the Matadors first opponent of the 2009 season. Last year, Liberty finished 20-40-1 and tied for fourth in the Big South Conference with a 5-10 record. The Flames return six starters and three pitchers from last year's squad, led by senior first baseman Beth Bennett. She hit .328 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs.

In the circle, Dana Wheeler is the top returning pitcher, having posted a 1.93 ERA in 19 appearances. She fanned 89 batters in 83.1 innings of work and finished with a 4-6 record. Paul Wetmore is in his 16th year as the head coach at Liberty, having amassed a 413-461-1 record. In the only meeting between the schools in softball, Northridge took a 4-0 victory on Mar. 20, 1999.

CSUN's second game at the Cathedral City Kickoff features a match-up with Fordham University out of the Bronx in New York City. Last year, the Rams finished 36-30 and 11-9 in the Atlantic 10. They return 11 letterwinners, six position starters and two pitchers in 2009, led by Mary Beth Puccio, who hit .347 with six home runs and 45 RBIs.

In the circle, Fordham features Beckah Wiggins, who was 12-11 with a 3.21 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 40 apperances during the 2009 season. Bridget Orchard enters her eighth season as the head coach of the Rams, having amassed a 236-175-1 record in seven seasons. The game will be the first ever meeting between Fordham and Northridge on the softball diamond.

The second day of the Cathedral City Kickoff pits the Matadors against the No. 22 Georgia Bulldogs. One of the youngest teams in the nation, 90 percent of the Bulldogs' roster is comprised of underclassmen. Last year, Georgia finished 46-24 overall and 14-14 in the SEC. They advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals, eventually falling to UCLA. Sophomore Megan Wiggins is one of Georgia's top returning players after hitting .347 with seven home runs and 52 RBIs in her freshman season.

In the circle, Sarah McCloud also had a good freshman season, finishing with a 14-7 record, 2.16 ERA and 89 K's in 149.1 innings. Head coach Lu Harris-Champer is in her ninth season at Georgia, having compiled a 405-156 record. UGA defeated CSUN, 6-0, on Feb. 26, 2005 in the only meeting between the schools.

Northridge concludes the second day of the Cathedral City Kickoff with a game against Wisconsin, one of three meetings between the Matadors and Badgers in 2009. Sophomore Krystal Raphael's sister, Valyncia, is a senior on the Wisconsin team. Wisconsin finished 15-40 overall and 3-17 in the Big 10 in 2008.

Letty Olivarez is the team's top returning hitter after batting .255 in 46 games with four home runs. In the circle, Olivarez had a 7-15 record in 22 starts for Wisconsin, posting a 4.29 ERA in 147 innings. Chandelle Schulte is in her fourth season at Wisconsin, having compiled a 64-82 record. Wisconsin and Northridge have never met in softball, but will face each other two more times in 2009, both contests coming at the Long Beach State Tournament.

In the final day of the Cathedral City Kickoff, Northridge opens with a game against Southern Illinois of the Missouri Valley Conference. The Salukis finished 30-24 last season and 15-8 in the MVC. Lauren Haas returns for senior season after hitting .388 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs in 2008. Katie Wagner also returns for the Salukis after hitting .308 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs.

In the circle, sophomore Nikki Waters posted a 13-12 record with a 2.74 ERA and 93 strikeouts in her freshman season. Another sophomore, Danielle Glosson, finished the year 9-9 with a 2.30 ERA and 131 strikeouts. Kerri Blaylock is in her 10th season as head coach at Southern Illinois and has a 345-156 record in nine seasons. The Salukis took the only meeting between the two schools in the all-time series, 4-0, on Feb. 26, 2005.

Northridge concludes its time in Cathedral City with a familiar foe, the No. 14 Fresno State Bulldogs. The two schools have met 51 times on the diamond, with FSU holding a 33-18 advantage in the series. The Bulldogs have won the last five meetings with the Matadors. Margie Wright in in her 24th season as the head coach at Fresno State, having coimpiled a 1,144-367-1 record in 23 seasons.

In 2008, FSU finished 54-13 and hosted regionals. All-American pitcher Morgan Melloh returns for her sophomore season after posting a 42-9 record with a 1.28 ERA and 454 strikeouts in 2008. At the plate, senior Haley Perkins returns after hitting .374 and scoring 48 runs with 19 RBIs in 2008.

Next week, the Matadors leave the state of California for the only time this season to participate in a tournament on the UTEP Campus. In El Paso, Northridge will face Northern Colorado, New Mexico State, San Jose State, UTEP and Samford.