February 10, 2010

Matadors Travel to Arizona State's Kajikawa Classic to Open 2010 Season

Feb. 10, 2010

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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THIS WEEK

Friday, Feb. 12 • North Dakota State • Tempe, Ariz. • 12:30 p.m. • Kajikawa Classic (@ Arizona State)

Friday, Feb. 12 • No. 15 Northwestern • Tempe, Ariz. • 4:30 p.m. • Kajikawa Classic (@ Arizona State)

Saturday, Feb. 13 • Purdue • Tempe, Ariz. • 4:30 p.m. • Kajikawa Classic (@ Arizona State)

Saturday, Feb. 13 • No. 1 Washington • Tempe, Ariz. • 7 p.m. • Kajikawa Classic (@ Arizona State)

Sunday, Feb. 14 • Texas A&M • Tempe, Ariz. • 9 a.m. • Kajikawa Classic (@ Arizona State)

Sunday, Feb. 14 • Oregon • Tempe, Ariz. • 1:30 p.m. • Kajikawa Classic (@ Arizona State)

Matadors Start 2010 Season with Challenging Slate in Tempe

The Cal State Northridge softball team starts its 2010 season in Tempe, Ariz., at the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State. The Matadors season starts with a flurry, as Northridge will face four ranked teams at the event, including defending National Champion Washington. However, the Matadors feature an experience-laden roster with 13 returning letterwinners and six seniors and are poised to make 2010 a memorable campaign.

Northridge returns eight field starters and its three most trusted pitchers in 2010. Leading the way is a group of seniors with numerous conference and school awards. Jaclyn Rymer, Christina Saenz, Alexandria Alvarado, Debbie Duran, Lauren Olivas and Amanda Pitzenberger comprise a solid corp for Roni Sparrey and her coaching staff.

Also returning are juniors Karla Chaparro, Tracy Allen, Kristen Mihm, Jennifer Mosier and Krystal Raphael, all of whom showed significant improvement in making the transition from freshman to sophomores. The team also welcomes back its two sophomores, Jaci Carlsen and Hannah Fraijo, both of whom will be counted upon heavily in their second season.

Finally, the team adds three newcomers to the roster, freshmen Mia Pagano and Mikayla Thielges and junior transfer Erin Harris, with the coaching staff buzzing about the potential of all three. There is little doubt that CSUN's schedule in Arizona will provide plenty of challenges.

Among the teams CSUN is set to face in Tempe is the defending champion Huskies, one Super Regional team (North Dakota State), and three Regional squads (Northwestern, Purdue and Texas A&M) from the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Despite the tough fixtures, the Matadors are confident for positive returns in Tempe.

Scheduling Story

A look at the CSUN's 2010 schedule reveals a slate of games filled with quality opponents that should give the Matadors a high RPI and strength-of-schedule. In fact, the 2010 schedule features 26 games against 17 opponents who competed in the NCAA Tournament. In terms of RPI, Northridge will play 18 opponents and 29 games, 15 of which are home contests, against clubs that had an RPI ranked in the top 100 at the end of the 2009 season. The Matadors finished 2009 with a final RPI of 81 and a strength-of-schedule of 96.

Defensive Dynamos

A staple of the Matadors in Coach Sparrey's tenure has been defensive acumen. The Matadors finished the 2009 season ranked 46th in the nation and third in the Big West Conference with a .967 fielding percentage. Individually, Jaclyn Rymer was second in the league with 403 putouts and two returning Matadors finished in the top 10 in defensive assists: Karla Chaparro (3rd, 139) and Tracy Allen (10th, 103). The team also finished 23rd in the nation in double plays per contest (0.42) finishing with 21 double plays in 50 games.

Basepaths Beware

Northridge finished the 2009 season with a league-high 62 stolen bases in 80 chances. At an average of 1.24 per game, the Matadors ranked 65th in Division I. Individually, Karla Chaparro set a new career highs with 11 stolen bases, ranking third in the Big West. Jaclyn Rymer added 10 stolen bases to rank sixth in the league and give her 29 for her career, the seventh-most in school history. Finally, Tracy Allen had a career-high eight steals to finish tied for eighth.

We're All Making Sacrifices Around Here

The Matadors finished second in the Big West with 55 sac bunts in 2009. Among returners, Karla Chaparro led the club with nine sacrifice bunts, tied for the seventh-most in the conference. Several Matadors also set new career highs in the category: Christina Saenz (6), Krystal Raphael (6), Tracy Allen (5), Alexandria Alvarado (4) and Kristen Mihm (3).

Taking one for the Team

Cal State Northridge batters finished the 2009 season having been plunked 43 times, the second-most in the Big West Conference. Karla Chaparro and Jaclyn Rymer had the biggest bulls-eye, each hit eight times during the year, the fifth-most in the league. Also setting new personal bests in times plunked in 2009 were Christina Saenz (7), Alexandria Alvarado (5) and Krystal Raphael (7).

Senior Story

The 2010 Matadors feature six seniors, five of whom started as freshman together in the 2007 season. Alexandria Alvarado, Lauren Olivas, Amanda Pitzenberger, Jaclyn Rymer and Christina Saenz all share numerous conference, school and individual honors entering their final season at CSUN. Add to that Debbie Duran, a transfer who earned all-league honors in 2009, and the class hopes to go out like the came in: with an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Rymer and Reason

Senior Jaclyn Rymer led the Matadors on offense in 2009 with a .319 batting average, 31 runs scored, 45 hits and 22 walks. She sported a .436 on-base percentage, the fifth-best mark in the Big West Conference, and also had nine stolen bases and 17 RBIs on the season. In 2009, Rymer tied two school records, getting five hits at Cal State Bakersfield on Mar. 22 and stealing three bases against UC Riverside on April 26.

Double A Keeps Going and Going and Going and Going and Going

Senior Alexandria Alvarado finished her third season at CSUN with a team-high 11 doubles to give her 28 for her career, the eighth-most in school history. The 11 two-baggers ranked sixth in th Big West Conference. Overall, Alvarado batted .268 with 42 hits, 19 runs scored, 18 RBIs, four stolen bases and four sac bunts.

Duran Duran

Senior Debbie Duran enjoyed her first season of Division I softball with the Matadors, posting a 18-12 record and a team-best 2.43 ERA. The 18 wins ranked third and the ERA checked in at ninth among all Big West pitchers. For the season, Duran appeared in a conference-leading 38 contests and tossed 176.0 innings of work. She also had two saves on the year, tied for tops among all Big West pitchers, and earned All-Big West Honorable Mention.

Saenz of the Times

Senior Christina Saenz enjoyed a nice rebound season in 2009, hitting .303 with a .403 on-base percentage after managing just a .190 average in 2008. She had six doubles, 24 RBIs and set new career highs with four stolen bases and six sac bunts. She now has 65 RBIs for her career, 11 shy of 10th in school history. Saenz ranked ninth in the Big West with her .410 on-base percentage and she had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 17 chances.

Pitz the Truth

Senior Amanda Pitzenberger hopes to continue her steady play in the pitching circle in the 2010 season. In 2009, she finished 4-2 with a 2.78 ERA and a save. She ratcheted up her performance against league opponents, finishing with a 1.83 ERA and a 2-2 mark against league foes in 10 appearances. League opponents hit just .227 against her, down from .258 for the whole year.

Getting the Lo-Down

Senior Lauren Olivas has been one of the Matadors' most reliable outfielders in her three seasons at CSUN. For her career, she has seven outfield assists and a .986 fielding percentage. At the plate, Olivas has amassed a .221 career batting average with 34 runs scored, 21 RBIs and nine stolen bases. She had a career-high 10 RBIs in 2009, eight of which came against Big West opponents.

Allen Wrenches Her Way into Offensive Fixture

Junior Tracy Allen steadily increased her batting average over the season and finished 2009 with a .273 average, over 70 points higher than her freshman year. She hit .255 against Big West pitching and cranked her first home run of the season against Cal State Fullerton. For the year, Allen scored 24 runs, had three doubles, 11 RBIs and eight stolen bases.

Karla's Korner

Junior Karla Chaparro earned her bumps and bruises during the 2009 season, starting all 50 CSUN games at shortstop. She batted .216 for the year and set new career highs with her 29 hits, 10 runs scored, nine RBIs, 11 stolen bases and nine sac bunts. She ranked among the Big West Top 10 in both sac bunts (fifth) and stolen bases (third) and also ranks second in the league with 139 defensive assists.

It Certainly Ain't Hannah Montana

Sophomore Hannah Fraijo posted a strong finish for the Matadors during her rookie season. She earned Big West Pitcher of the Week honors during the year and finished 7-4 with a 2.64 ERA. She has limited opponents to a .227 batting average, the fourth-best figure in the Big West Conference. Fraijo's ERA ranked 10th among all Big West pitchers and she also had a save and 51 K's on the season.

Scouting North Dakota State

The Matadors' first opponent of the 2010 season is North Dakota State, a team that made it to the Super Regionals in 2009. Melissa Chmielewski is the team's top returning hitter, having batted .351 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs. Elisa Victa hit .347 with 18 RBIs and Laurel Pipkin added 14 RBIs last year. Randi Parks is the team's top returning pitcher, having posted a 2-3 record with a 6.42 ERA and 17 K's. Darren Mueller is in his ninth season as the head coach of the Bison. The two teams have never met on the softball diamond.

Scouting No. 15 Northwestern

The Wildcats from Northwestern are the Matadors' second opponent in Arizona. Hailing from the Big Ten Conference, the Wildcats return several all-league and all-americans from a 2009 squad that finished 31-15. Lauren Delaney was the 2008 Big Ten Conference Pitcher of the Year and owns a career record of 85-25. At the plate, Adrienne Monka was the 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year after hitting .392 with 19 home runs, 53 RBIs and a 1.394 OPS. The Matadors and Wildcats have met five times on the diamond, with CSUN owning a 3-2 mark in the all-time series, though Northwestern has won the last two contests. Kate Drohan is in her ninth season as the head coach of Northwestern.

Scouting Purdue

The Boilermakers of Purdue are the Matadors' second Big Ten opponent in Arizona. Last season, Purdue finished 31-20 overall and 12-8 league record. Liane Horiuchi batted .348 with a .624 slugging percentage and 42 stolen bases. Molly Garst added a .301 average, 25 runs scored and 25 stolen bases. In the circle, Suzie Rzegocki finished 24-12 with 187 K's and a 1.48 ERA. Kim Maher is in her fifth season as the head coach of the Boilermakers. Purdue and Northridge have never met on the softball diamond.

Scouting No. 1 Washington

The defending National Champions, Washington and CSUN square off in a Saturday night game in Tempe. UW is led by the 2009 USA Softball Player of the Year, Danielle Laurie, who finished 42-8 with a 0.97 ERA and 521 strikeouts. At the plate, Kimi Pohlman hit .360 with 33 runs scored and 20 stolen bases. Morgan Stuart also returns after batting .322 with six home runs and 37 RBIs. Heather Tarr is in her sixth season as the head coach of Washington. The Matadors own a 6-5 record in the all-time series with Washington, having won the last meeting 5-1 on Mar. 16, 2007.

Scouting Texas A&M

For the second time in three years, CSUN and Texas A&M will meet on the softball diamond. The Aggies won the last meeting, 3-0, on Feb. 8, 2008. In 2009, Texas A&M finished 33-22 overall and 8-9 in the Big 12 Conference. Rhiannon Kliesing is the team's top returning batter, hitting .265 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 2009. She is also the team's top returning pitcher, having finished 20-13 with a 2.38 ERA and 177 K's. Jo Evans is in her 14th season as the head coach of the Aggies.

Scouting Oregon

The Oregon Ducks are the Matadors' final opponent at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe. Northridge and Oregon have met 18 times in their history on the diamond, with Oregon owning a 10-8 record and having won the last four meetings. Neeta Bryant is the Ducks' top returning hitter, having batted .314 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs with 27 stolen bases in 2009. In the circle, Samantha Skillingstad was 12-15 with a 2.36 ERA and 170 K's. Mike White is in his first season as the head coach of Oregon.