February 25, 2010

Northridge Opens Homestand with Three Games against Michigan State

Feb. 25, 2010

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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Northridge Hosts Michigan State in First Home Games of Season

The Cal State Northridge softball team (2-9) opens its 2010 home schedule this weekend with a three-game series against the Michigan State Spartans. The Matadors know that despite a tough early start, they have 27 of their remaining 41 games at Matador Diamond, including four three-game weekends against Big West opponents.

Northridge enters the weekend series fresh off a 5-4, eight-inning victory at San Diego State on Wednesday night. Christina Saenz, Jaci Carlsen and Jennifer Mosier hit consecutive singles in the top of the eighth for the game-winning run and the Matador defense shut the door on a possible SDSU rally.

Carlsen finished with three hits, missing the cycle by just a home run, and a career-high three RBIs. Saenz scored two runs, had two hits and an RBI. Jaclyn Rymer also had a multi-hit game, finishing with two hits and two runs scored.

Amanda Pitzenberger tossed seven strong innings to earn the win, striking out two while walking three and scattering five hits. She is now 2-1 on the year with a 3.63 ERA and a .258 batting-average-against.

Now Northridge sets its sights on a Michigan State team that enters Saturday's doubleheader with a 3-6 record after a 1-4 showing at a tournament in Tampa. MSU is batting .228 as a team, just one point higher than the batting average its pitchers have allowed in the nine games. Lindsey Hansen leads the Spartans with four home runs and four doubles. The Matadors own a 5-0 record in the all-time series with the Spartans. The two teams last met on Mar. 13, 2004, with CSUN taking a 4-0 victory.

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. The team also finished 23rd in the nation in double plays per contest (0.42) finishing with 21 double plays in 50 games. Through 11 games in 2010, CSUN ranks second in the Big West with a .967 fielding percentage, committing only 11 errors in 320 chances.

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. In 2010, Northridge is 6-of-11 in stolen base attempts. Jaci Carlsen and Lauren Olivas are the earlier leaders for Northridge, having each stolen two bags. Jaclyn Rymer ranks seventh in school history with 29 steals. 

We're All Making Sacrifices around Here

The Matadors finished second in the Big West with 55 sac bunts in 2009. Northridge has picked right where they left off in 2010, posting a league-high 11 sac bunts through its first 11 games. Amanda Pitzenberger leads the squad with three while Christina Saenz and Alexandria Alvarado each have two sacrifices to their credit.

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. This year, CSUN has been plunked 14 times through 11 games. Alexandria Alvarado and Krystal Raphael have worn the biggest bulls-eye thus far, having been hit three times each.

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.

Getting the Lo-Down

Senior Lauren Olivas gave the Matadors a surge of power in their four games at the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament, collecting three extra-base hits. She smashed a double against UCLA on Saturday, then followed that up a double and her first career home run against Portland State on Sunday. For the season, Olivas is batting .229, but owns a .371 slugging percentage and .325 on-base percentage. She also leads the team with two stolen bases.

Allen Wrenches Her Way into Offensive Fixture

Junior Tracy Allen has been of Roni Sparrey's more consistent batters through 11 games, hitting .242 with a team-high eight base hits. She already has three doubles, which matches her season totals from her freshman and sophomore seasons, and a home run. Allen also has a stolen base and four RBIs.

Run Forrest Run

Junior Jennifer Mosier leads the Matadors in batting average, hitting .333 in 26 plate appearances. She has two home runs, a double and leads the team with a .667 slugging percentage and .462 on-base percentage. Mosier has already drawn five walks, driven in five RBIs and scored three runs.

Saenz of the Times

Senior Christina Saenz enters the weekend with a .296 batting average, the third-highest figure on the Matadors. For the year, she has eight hits, two doubles, four RBIs and two sac bunts. With 69 career RBIs, Saenz is just seven shy of cracking the Northridge career top-10 list.

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

Senior Alexandria Alvarado has certainly earned her .364 on-base percentage, the fourth-highest figure on the team. She has drawn a team-high five walks and been hit by a pitch a team-high three times. Alvarado has also scored a team-high six runs and driven in three RBIs. Her double leaves her just one shy of a tie for seventh in school history with Tamara Ivie, who had 30 two-baggers in her career.

Reno 911

Sophomore Jaci Carlsen enjoyed the trip to San Diego State, finishing with three hits and career-high three RBIs. She was a home run short of hitting for the cycle against the Aztecs. For the year, she is batting .316 with six RBIs and three runs scored. She also has a double, triple and home run on the year and sports a .632 slugging and .409 on-base percentage.

Pitz The Truth

Senior Amanda Pitzenberger tossed a complete game to earn her second victory of the year in the Matadors' win at San Diego State. She tossed seven strong innings of five-hit softball, striking out two while walking three. Pitzenberger leads the team in ERA at 3.63 and in batting-average-against at .258.

Scouting Michigan State

Northridge's third opponent from the Big 10 Conference, Michigan State makes the trip to the San Fernando Valley sporting a 3-6 overall record. The Spartans have faced some tough competition thus far, facing South Florida, North Dakota State, Hofstra and NC State all in Tampa last weekend.

As a team, MSU is hitting .228 for the season. Lindsey Hansen leads the team with a .385 clip and also sports the most hits (10), runs (6), doubles (4) and home runs (4) on the squad. Brett Williams is the other regular batting over .300, bringing a .308 mark into the weekend series. She has two home runs and six RBIs on the year.

In the circle, the Spartans own a team ERA of 2.10 and have limited opponents to just a .227 batting average in nine games. Shelby Wise owns a 0.68 ERA and a 1-0 record on the year. Lauren Kramer is 2-4 with a 1.87 ERA and a .195 batting-average-against, and Kelly Confer is 0-2 with a 3.43 ERA and a .266 batting-average-against. A southpaw, Kramer leads the squad with 33 K's and 30 innings pitched.

Jacquie Joseph is in her 17th season as the head coach of Michigan State. The Matadors own a 5-0 record in the all-time series with the Spartans. The two teams last met on Mar. 13, 2004, with CSUN taking a 4-0 victory.