June 8, 2010
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
In a year rife with uncertainty and transition, the Cal State Northridge softball team rallied around each other to make 2010 one of the program's most memorable seasons. In finishing 31-22 overall and 15-6 in Big West play to earn a share of the league title, the Matadors showed that not only can they overcome unique and difficult circumstances, but prosper in doing so.
In her fourth year with the program and first as Associate Coach, Roni Sparrey led a club that started 1-9 to finish 30-13 over their last 43 games and a share of the Big West Title. En route to the league championship, the Matadors accomplished several notable achievements that reflected the camaraderie and determination of the 2010 Matadors.
CSUN posted its first series win over Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton since 2004 and 1999, respectively. The Matadors swept three league opponents, two of them on the road, and defeated several NCAA Tournament teams, including Oklahoma, San Diego State and Big West co-champion UC Davis.
The Matador offense paced the 2010 season. CSUN led the Big West in runs, slugging percentage, hit-by-pitches, on-base percentage and sac hits. They finished second in the league in batting average, doubles, hits, triples and home runs. Individuals like Jennifer Mosier, Jaci Carlsen, Tracy Allen, Lauren Olivas, Karla Chaparro and Alexandria Alvarado all enjoyed career years at the plate.
In the circle, Hannah Fraijo assumed the mantle as the top pitcher on staff. She finished 18-8 overall to lead all conference pitchers in wins. She also ranked among the league leaders in ERA, innings pitched, complete games, shutouts and opponent-batting average. Additionally, Amanda Pitzenberger and Debbie Duran each closed out their final season at CSUN with strong performances. Finally, freshman Mia Pagano flashed moments of brilliance that will only build future expectations.
For the first time since 1998, CSUN placed four Matadors on the All-Big West First Team. Three of those players (Carlsen, Allen and Mosier) were field players who enjoyed stellar campaigns en route to their first career league honors. In the outfield, Mosier exploded onto the scene with a season that saw her lead the team in batting average, hits, on-base percentage and steals. In fact, her 18 stolen bases were the most by an individual Matador since the 1990 season and set a new Division I program record. In one of the best single performances of the year, Mosier went 4-for-5 with two home runs, four runs scored and three RBIs in the Matadors' victory against Mississippi State. It was the program's first win over an SEC opponent since the 2004 season.
At second base, Carlsen excelled in her second season in college. The Reno, Nev., native led the Matadors and the Big West with 21 extra-base hits and 44 RBIs. She finished in the Big West Top 10 in 12 different offensive categories. The 44 RBIs finished eighth in school history for a single season and she ended the year on a 10-game hitting streak. Against league opponents, Carlsen posted a .712 slugging percentage, hit six home runs and had 23 RBIs. Among her season highlights was the Matadors' sweep at UC Riverside. In the three games, Carlsen batted .571 with five runs, four hits, a home run and five RBIs. In the Matadors win at San Diego State, Carlsen finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs, a double and a triple.
Allen started all 53 games at third base for CSUN in her junior season, putting together her finest year yet. She batted a career-high .307 and finished with eight doubles, seven home runs and 36 RBIs, all new career bests as well. She earned a Big West Player of the Week award for her role in the Matadors' three-game sweep at Pacific. In Stockton, Allen batted a robust .545 with two home runs, eight RBIs and four runs scored. In game two of the series, she had a career-high five RBIs and blasted a grand slam. She also was a defensive wall at third base, leading the Big West in defensive assists (151) and sporting a .964 fielding percentage.
Offensively, Northridge also featured four senior players who capped off their Matador careers with outstanding performances. In the outfield, Olivas and Alvarado each posted several new career bests in multiple offensive categories. Olivas thrived in the leadoff position, batting .262 and setting new career highs in runs (37), hits (44), doubles (6), triples (3) and home runs (2). In fact, she led the Big West with the 37 runs scored and that total was more than she had scored in her previous three years combined.
Alvarado finished her senior season with a .277 batting average, a career-high 20 RBIs and eight doubles. She ended her career with 36 two-baggers, tied for the second-most in school history. In game three of the Pacific series, Alvarado tied a school record with three doubles. She also had a career-high five sac bunts and added 23 runs scored for the season.
Another senior, Christina Saenz, enjoyed a thrilling conclusion to her Northridge playing career. Saenz finished 2010 with 22 RBIs, giving her 87 for her career, the eighth-most in school history. She added to that a .281 batting average, 15 runs, seven doubles, a career-high five sac bunts and five home runs. In all, Saenz finished with more than 20 RBIs in three of her four seasons and had 19 in the other year.
The fourth senior of the group was Jaclyn Rymer, a two-time All-Big West honoree that concluded her CSUN career with 30 hits, three doubles, 12 RBIs and a career-high nine sac bunts. Originally from Bakersfield, Rymer also anchored the league's top defense from her first base position, finishing with a .993 fielding percentage in 300 chances. She left CSUN having tied two school records, recording the seventh-most steals in school history and was a Big West Scholar Athlete of the Year.
At shortstop, Karla Chaparro matched Allen and Carlsen in posting a career year. The junior set new career highs in batting average, hits, runs, doubles, RBIs and walks. She earned Big West Player of the Week honors after going 5-for-7 in a doubleheader sweep of Utah on Mar. 25. Additionally, Chaparro played exceptional defense at shortstop, posting a .957 fielding percentage in 211 chances.
Like Allen and Chaparro, Kristen Mihm also flourished for CSUN in her third season with the program. She set new career highs in batting average, hits, runs, doubles, home runs and RBIs. Both of her two home runs, the first two of her career, were game-winning blasts, lifting CSUN to wins over Oklahoma and UC Riverside.
Another junior who excelled in her third season with the Matadors was Krystal Raphael. One of the team's two catchers, Raphael did an outstanding job handling the pitching staff, posting a .980 fielding percentage and recording just one passed ball the entire season. At the plate, Raphael had a career-high 11 runs and was hit by a pitch 14 times, leading the team and finishing among the top 20 in all of NCAA Division I.
Also chipping in at the plate were newcomers Mikayla Thielges and Erin Harris. Thielges tied for second on the team with six sac bunts and had a key game-tying, two-run double against Long Beach State. Although limited in her appearances, Harris played a vital role serving as a bullpen catcher. She also had an RBI, sac fly and two walks on the year.
En route to receiving All-Big West First Team honors, Hannah Fraijo not only established herself as one of the league's top pitchers, but served notice to the rest of the conference that the next two years will be a lot like 2010. Fraijo anchored the staff in 2010, finishing with an 18-8 record, 2.69 ERA, 14 complete games, three shutouts, a save and 102 strikeouts in 182 innings of work. She ranked among the Big West Top 10 in all those categories, plus opponent batting average, limiting batters to a .252 average for the season. Among her individual highlights were shutouts over Oklahoma and Cal Poly. She also earned Big West Pitcher of the Week honors after winning both games of a doubleheader sweep against Utah.
A pair of Matador seniors also found success in the pitching circle in their final seasons at CSUN. Amanda Pitzenberger and Debbie Duran each left an indelible mark on Matador Softball, en part to their 2010 seasons. Pitzenberger set a new career high by finishing 9-5 with a 3.41 ERA and 30 K's in 88.1 innings of work. She also recorded her sixth career save in the season finale against Cal State Fullerton, moving her into a tie for fourth in school history. She went 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA against Big West opposition.
Duran finished the year 3-5 overall, but excelled once Big West play started. She tossed two complete games during the league slate, including a shutout at UC Riverside. In eight appearances against Big West opposition, Duran went 3-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 29.1 innings of work. She also picked up a victory in the Matadors' series win at Cal Poly.
Finally, freshman Mia Pagano recorded two saves and posted a 1-4 record on the season. She picked up both saves during the Matadors' appearance in the Bayer CropScience Classic to finish tied for second in the Big West. Pagano picked up her first career victory over North Dakota.
A trademark of Coach Sparrey's tenure at Northridge, the Matador defense led the Big West Conference with a .970 fielding percentage. That mark ranked among the top 40 in the nation and the Matadors also recorded 21 double plays on the year to rank among the top 25 schools in Division I.
Allen led the league with 151 defensive assists from her position at third base. Chaparro added 109 assists to form a wall on the left side of the CSUN defense. On the right side, Rymer and Carlsen combined for 399 put-outs and 92 assists. In fact, those four Matadors combined for just 28 errors on the season. In the outfield, the Matadors produced 11 assists to just seven errors for the entire year.
At the beginning of the year, no one was really sure what to expect out of Northridge. A change in the coaching position left uncertainty and doubt just a month before the start of the season.
Still, despite the turmoil, the Matadors persevered and posted the program's first conference title, shared or outright, in over a decade. The team's four All-Big West First Team selections were also the most in a decade and all four of those players will return in 2011.
Northridge learned a lot about itself during the 2010 season. Looking forward, Sparrey and the Matadors hope to teach the rest of the league a few lessons.