Matadors Travel to Texas for UTEP Softball Invitational

Feb. 18, 2009

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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The Cal State Northridge softball team (1-4) returns to action Thursday with a roadtrip to El Paso, Texas, and a spot in the UTEP Softball Invitational. The Matadors will face Northern Colorado, New Mexico State, San Jose State, UTEP and Samford in CSUN's only trip outside of California this season.

Northridge opens the tournament Thursday with games against Northern Colorado (Noon, MT) and New Mexico State (2 p.m., MT). On Friday, Northridge turns its attention to San Jose State (9:30 a.m., MT) and UTEP (11:30 a.m., MT). CSUN concludes its time in El Paso with a game against Samford on Friday (9 a.m., MT). All five games will be available on gametracker on gomatadors.com.

Eager to get back on the field following a 10-day lay-off, the Matadors saw several impressive pitching performances at the Cathedral City Kickoff. Both Debbie Duran and Claire Rietmann-Grout strung together some outstanding debuts as Matadors.

Duran, a junior transfer from San Jose City College, won her season-opening start, tossing five innings of scoreless softball as Northridge defeated Liberty, 13-0. Two days later, she gave up only one earned run while fanning seven in a 2-0 loss to Southern Illinois. She is 1-2 with a 2.10 ERA and 11 strikeouts on the season.

Rietmann-Grout, a graduate student who enrolled at Northridge following her graduation from Towson University (MD), recorded 11 strikeouts in the Matadors' 3-0, eight-inning loss to Fresno State. She owns an 0-2 record with a 4.42 ERA and 15 strikeouts for the season.

At the plate, Alexandria Alvarado leads the team with a .357 batting average and four RBIs. She tied a career high with three against Fordham on Feb. 6. Christina Saenz is batting .300, having scored three runs and driven in three. Micah Putnam checks in at third on the team with a .250 average and three runs and two RBIs.

The Matadors' first opponent in El Paso, Northern Colorado, stands at 2-3 but did not play this past weekend. At the Red Desert Classic, the Bears defeated Southern Utah, 9-8, and Idaho State, 6-4. They are hitting .256 as a team with Kelli Henderson's .429 clip tops on the squad. Northern Colorado does have two home runs and five doubles on the year, raising their team slugging to .364.

Bears pitchers are allowing opponents to hit .324 and own a staff ERA of 10.20. Courtney Maihi is 1-0 on the season with a 2.35 ERA in 7.2 innings of work. Northridge has never faced Northern Colorado, who will join the PCSC next season, in softball.

New Mexico State awaits the Matadors for CSUN's second game on the border. The Aggies are 10-2 on the year, having finished 4-2 in a tournament they hosted this past weekend. As a team, NMSU is hitting a robust .398 with a .653 slugging percentage and a .461 on-base percentage. Tiare Jennings leads the team with a .513 average and Hoku Nahara has already smacked six home runs this season.

In the circle, the Aggies sport a 2.96 team ERA with opponents hitting .247 in 73.1 innings. Vanes Fitzgerald is 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA and 24 strikeouts while Kim Watson is 3-2 with a 2.21 ERA and 42 strikeouts. CSUN owns a 12-5 record in the all-time series with New Mexico State.

Northridge opens its second day along the Rio Grande with a meeting against San Jose State. The Spartans are 2-3 on the season, owning wins over Idaho State and Utah Valley. SJSU is hitting .241 as a team, but owns a .361 on-base percentage for the season. Brittany McConnell is hitting .364 with five RBIs and a home run and double to lead the squad.

For the Spartans, Jennifer Ames checks in with a 0.88 ERA in eight innings while Amanda Pridmore is 2-0 with a 3.39 ERA in 10.1 innings of work. Opponents are hitting .344 off SJSU pitching and the team's ERA is 5.62. The Matadors own a 13-1 record in the all-time series with the Spartans.

The host for the festivities, UTEP, is 5-5 on the season, having already defeated Arizona State, Kansas and Saint Mary's. The Miners are hitting .295 as a team with Chelsea Troupe pacing the squad with her .469 average She has three home runs and 10 RBIs on the year and Staci Townsend owns four homers and nine RBIs. In the circle,

UTEP has a team 3.38 ERA with opponents hitting .304 in 70.1 innings. Townsend is 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 42.2 innings. Kelly Curran holds a 1-3 record with a 3.63 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 27 innings of work. Northridge defeated UTEP, 1-0, on Feb. 4, 2005, in their only meeting ever on the diamond.

CSUN's final opponent of the weekend is Samford, who are 3-2 on the year. The Bulldogs have defeated Southern Mississippi, Mississippi Valley State and Central Arkansas. As a team, Samford is hitting .270 and owns a .366 on-base percentage. Jessica Owens is hitting .615 for the season and has drawn seven walks to raise her OBP to .750. Amanda Barrs and Amy Gonzalez are hitting 375 and .350, respectively, with seven RBIs and five runs.

In the circle, Samford pitchers own a 4.62 team ERA with opponents hitting .274 in 37 innings. Stephanie Royall, Aaren Fisher and Kayla Burris all have recorded a win. The two schools have never played in softball.

Upon their return from West Texas, the Matadors head down the 405 to compete in Mayfair Tournament hosted by Long Beach State. CSUN will face Wisconsin (Feb. 27, 6 p.m.), Iowa State (Feb. 28, 11 a.m.), BYU (Feb. 28, 1:15 p.m.), Wisconsin again (Mar. 1, 10:45 a.m.) and Fresno State (Mar. 1, 1 p.m.)

Tickets will cost $10 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 4-14) and senior citizens (ages 60+). The prices are for one ticket and are valid all day. All games will be held at Mayfair Park in the Long Beach/Lakewood area.