May 21, 2009

2009 Matador Softball Year-in-Review

May 21, 2009

2009 CSUN Softball Photo Gallery

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - There is nothing glamorous about a bunt. It hardly results in a run and almost always guarantees an out. A bunt doesn't have the spectacle of a home run or the excitement of an extra-base hit. Most often, a bunt is the most selfless act a player can do on the diamond.

And yet, when used effectively, a bunt can be a productive tool to help a team win games. Coupled with a willingness to try and take extra bases, the art of "small ball" is an ideal as old as the game. A prime example of this was the 2009 Cal State Northridge softball team.

A terror on the base paths, the Matadors amassed a league-leading 62 stolen bases and 80 attempts in 2009. They finished second in the Big West with 52 sac bunts. Among the players, five Matadors either tied or set new a career high in stolen bases and six established new career marks in sacrifice bunts.

Having finished 29-21 overall, tied for fourth in the Big West Conference and set the stage for bigger and better things, the Cal State Northridge softball team enjoyed a stellar campaign in 2009. Led by a determined group of upperclassmen, the Matadors won two preseason tournaments and strung together an 11-game winning streak during the season.

Slated seventh by the Big West head coaches in the preseason poll, the Matadors rallied from a difficult opening weekend to finish the non-conference season with a 20-9 record, including an undefeated run at the San Diego Classic II. Among the CSUN victims outside of league play included six NCAA Tournament teams and several league champions.

"It was exciting to win those two tournaments this year," Matador Head Coach Barbara Jordan said. "Within a week, we were able to defeat Texas and then head down to San Diego and beat another three NCAA Tournament teams."

In addition to those highlights, the Matadors swept two home league series and head coach Barbara Jordan won her 200th career game in a 5-2 victory over UC Riverside on Apr. 26. Two Matadors, senior Micah Putnam and junior Debbie Duran, earned All-Big West Conference honors following the season.

"I think we learned a lot of lessons this year, both as a team and individually," Jordan added. "We realized how good we could be and now we just need to work on maintaining that high level of play throughout the season."

In the circle, Duran shouldered the majority of the work for the Matadors, finishing 18-12 with a 2.43 ERA. She earned Big West Co-Pitcher of the Week honors after she went 6-0 with a 0.76 ERA from Mar. 8-15, as Northridge successfully completed an undefeated run at the San Diego Classic II. In that span, she defeated NCAA Tournament teams Texas, Oklahoma State, Miami (OH) and San Diego State. Duran ranked among the Big West Top 10 in wins, innings pitched, appearances and complete games for the season.

Another important member of the Matador rotation was freshman Hannah Fraijo. The rookie finished 7-4 overall with a 2.64 ERA and 3-3 against conference opponents. She earned Big West Pitcher of the Week honors after winning two games and tossing 11 innings without allowing an earned run in the Matadors' series sweep against UC Riverside. She allowed opponents just a .227 batting average throughout the course of the year.

The third piece of the Matador staff was junior Amanda Pitzenberger, who excelled in league play where she went 2-2 with a 1.87 ERA and picked up complete-game victories at UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis. She finished 4-2 overall with a career-best 2.78 ERA and also recorded the fifth save of her career.

At the plate, several Matadors enjoyed career years, highlighted by the senior season of Putnam, who earned All-Big West Second Team honors for her play at second base. Putnam finished the season hitting a career-high .294 and led CSUN in home runs (4), RBIs (34) and slugging percentage (.471) while tying for the team lead in sac bunts (9) and stolen bases (11). She hit a team-high .314 in Big West play and also sported a .963 fielding percentage in 244 chances at second base.

"I think our success this year was really a tribute to Micah and Sarah Kahn-Shamout's roles as seniors and team captains," added Jordan. "Sarah a tremendous leader and Micah's power numbers show just how tough of a competitor she was in her four seasons. "

The team's other senior, Sarah Kahn-Shamout saved her best for last, hitting .545 in the season-ending series at UC Davis and finishing with two hits in all three games. The tear helped raise her season average to a career-high .257 and she added five RBIs and four doubles to her season tally. Off the field, Kahn-Shamout was a devoted student and teammate, earning COSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District Eight honors for her stellar GPA of 3.78.

Jordan's junior class also continued to excel in a number of roles throughout the diamond. Jaclyn Rymer turned in another fine season at first base, committing only three errors on the year while setting new career highs in batting average (.319), hits (45), runs scored (31), walks (22) and on-base percentage (.436). Christina Saenz rebounded from a tough sophomore season to hit .303 for the year with 24 RBIs and set new career highs with four stolen bases and six sac bunts.

Alexandria Alvarado added 11 doubles to her career total and set new career highs with 18 RBIs and 42 hits. She also added four steals to her career totals and now ranks seventh in school history with her 28 career two-baggers.

Lauren Olivas also had a standout season in her third year with Northridge, setting a new career high with 10 RBIs, eight of which came against league opponent. She also sported a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage and recorded four assists.

Several sophomores also had break-out seasons for CSUN in 2009. Karla Chaparro was the only Matador to start all 50 games, all of which were at shortstop. She responded with offensive career highs in batting average (.216), runs scored (10), hits (29), RBIs (9), stolen bases (11) and sac bunts (9).

Tracy Allen raised her batting average 70 points from her freshman season, hitting .273 with a career-high 24 runs scored and 33 hits. She scored a team-high three runs in the Matadors win against Samford on Feb. 21 and also had eight stolen bases and five sac bunts on the season.

A mainstay on defense for CSUN, Krystal Raphael started 47 games for Northridge in 2009, all at catcher. She threw out 13 attempted base stealers and sported a .985 fielding percentage with only three errors and passed balls on the season.

Kristen Mihm played an important reserve role for Northridge in her sophomore campaign. She saw action in the outfield and behind the plate for the Matadors and added a career-high three sac bunts and nine hits on the year.

A late addition to the Matador roster, Jennifer Mosier made an immediate impact for CSUN in 2009. She hit .211 for the season and sported a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, including three assists, in the outfield to go along with three stolen bases.

In addition to Fraijo, freshman Jaci Carlsen also enjoyed an eventful rookie season with CSUN in 2009. She finished second on the team with two home runs and also added 10 RBIs, 13 runs scored and four stolen bases.

Despite the team's success in 2009, the Matadors are hungry for bigger things in 2010. With a large core of the position players and all the pitchers in line to return, Jordan and Northridge are prepared to begin the second decade of the 21st Century with a great year.

"If we can build upon the success we had, I think anything is possible in 2010," Jordan concluded.

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