NORTHRIDGE, Calif. ---
Matadors to Honor Senior Class Before Saturday's Season Finale
The Cal State Northridge softball team (10-39, 5-13 Big West) closes out its 2012 schedule with a three-game Big West Conference series against UC Santa Barbara at Matador Diamond. The Matadors and Gauchos will play a doubleheader on Friday, May 12 beginning at 1:30 p.m., followed by a single game on Saturday, May 12 at noon. Friday's twinbill is scheduled to be broadcast on BigWest.TV with a radio simulcast on GoMatadors.com. Live stats will also be available and fans are encouraged to check in with the CSUN Athletic Department's official Twitter account (@GoMatadors) for in-game updates throughout the series.
Last week, CSUN was swept in its final road series of 2012 and lost three games at UC Riverside. In game one, CSUN found itself on the wrong end of a 1-0 pitchers' duel that saw the Highlanders' Jordyn McDonald one-hit the Matadors. In game two, Northridge tied the game at 4-4 after falling behind early. But UCR connected on a two-out RBI single in the fifth to escape with a 5-4 victory. The series finale was an 10-0, five-inning thumping in which two Matadors (Crystal Maas and Samantha Sloniker) had two hits each.
This week CSUN meets up with UCSB for its annual set of contests. The Gauchos are in the thick of the Big West title chase, standing at 12-6 in league play entering Friday's games. As a team, UC Santa Barbara is hitting .260 for the season and .280 in its 18 league games.
At the plate, McKenzie Kane leads UCSB with a .316 batting average. She also has scored 21 runs and has eight stolen bases. Jessica Soria leads the team with 55 hits, 26 runs, two triples and 23 stolen bases. In league play, Jenessa Jeppesen leads the club with a .390 average and is the current Big West Player of the Week.
In the circle, Shelby Wisdom has led the Gauchos in nearly all categories. The freshman hurler has tossed 113 of 123 innings in Big West play and is 11-4 in those contests. For the season, Wisdom is 21-14 with a 2.48 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 245.2 innings of work while holding opponents to a .252 average.
Before Saturday's game, the Matadors will honor its three graduating seniors participating in the final game of their careers. Samantha Sloniker, Alyssa Ray and Jessica Fridwall are all two-year letterwinners for the Matadors.
Sloniker has been a two-year starter in the outfield and also saw a spell of games during her junior season at shortstop. In her two seasons, she has totaled 37 runs, eight doubles, a triple, two home runs, 16 RBIs and nine sacrifice hits entering the weekend. Fridwall has amassed 14 runs, three doubles, six RBIs and four sac hits while Ray has been the starting third baseman nearly all season for the Matadors and leads the Big West Conference with 135 defensive assists.
Time for Madeline
Sophomore Madeline Sale continues to lead CSUN in batting, entering the series with UC Santa Barbara at .265 for the season. Although she saw an 11-game hitting streak snapped against Cal State Fullerton, Sale put up big numbers in the Matadors' victory over the Titans. In the 5-2 win, Sale belted her third home run of the season. In Big West play, Sale is batting .286 with a .355 on-base percentage. In the series against Long Beach State, she hit .400 and had a two-run, ground-rule double. She hit .625 with a home run, a double and four RBIs in the Matadors' series victory at Pacific. Sale hit her first home run of the season and second of her career at LMU. She tied a career-high with three hits in the Matadors' victory over Utah State and scored a career-high two runs in the win over Fresno State. For the season, Sale has scored 16 runs and has 11 RBIs, three home runs, five doubles, 10 walks, and a .348 on-base percentage.
Junior Mia Pagano earned her fourth win of the Big West season with a dominating performance against Cal State Fullerton. In the 5-2 victory, she scattered five hits with no walks and three strikeouts in seven innings of work. In the Matadors' six league series, Pagano is 4-4 with a 2.31 ERA while holding opponents to a .247 batting average in 57.2 innings. Pagano tossed a two-hit shutout and clubbed her first career home run, a grand slam, to lead CSUN to a 4-0 victory over Cal Poly. She picked up two complete game victories at Pacific and finished with a career-high eight strikeouts twice (BYU, Nevada) at the San Diego Classic I. She tossed her first career shutout and tied a then-career-high with six strikeouts in an extra-inning victory over Iowa. For the year, Pagano is 8-16 with a 3.57 ERA in 174.2 innings. She ranks fifth in the Big West Conference in strikeouts (100), fourth in innings pitched, eighth in ERA, ninth in wins and fourth in appearances (35). As if her performance in the circle was not enough, Pagano has flexed some offensive muscle. Against New Mexico, Pagano set new career highs with three hits and four RBIs. For the season, she is batting .211 with four runs and 10 RBIs.
Senior Samantha Sloniker hit .444 in the Matadors' series against Cal State Fullerton. In the Matadors' 5-2 victory over the Titans, Sloniker set a new career high with three hits and a new season high with two runs scored. Two of the hits were doubles and she added her third two-bagger of the weekend in the second game of the series. She is batting .283 in 17 Big West Conference games, raising her average to .231 for the season. She is second on the club with eight multi-hit games, seven of which were two-hit performances. She recorded two two-hit performances in the Matadors' series victory at Pacific. She had two hits in game two of a doubleheader against New Mexico on April 8 and added two more hits in the Matadors' win over Cal Poly. She had four sacrifice hits at the Cathedral City Classic and is tied for sixth in the league with nine on the season. For the year, Sloniker has five doubles, the team's only triple and she has scored 11 runs.
Thielges Do Us Part
Junior Mikayla Thielges ended a long homerless streak for the Matadors by blasting a two-run shot during CSUN's series with Cal State Fullerton. She enters the weekend with a .252 batting average and .418 on-base percentage. She collected two hits and two RBIs at UCLA and leads the team with 21 RBIs on the season. She hit two home runs during the Matadors' time in San Diego and in her first meeting with Utah State, she smashed a career-high two home runs. She now has 19 career home runs, the ninth-most in school history. Among league players, Thielges ranks fourth in home runs (7), checks in at seventh in on-base percentage and ranks 10th in slugging percentage (.471). She has also been hit by a pitch 15 times this season, which is the most beanings in the Big West Conference.
Tait That Something
Junior Shelly Tait picked up her first win as a Matador in Northridge's 2-1 victory over Long Beach State on April 21. In a complete game effort, Tait scattered five hits and allowed one earned run without walking a batter. For the season, Tait is 1-6 with a 5.44 ERA and a .294 opponent batting average in 37.1 innings of work. Against Big West opposition, she is 1-4 with a 4.78 ERA and .288 opponent batting average in 26.1 innings.
Brianna the Elder
Redshirt freshman Brianna Elder brings a 3.73 ERA in 45 innings into the games against the Gauchos. Since the start of league play, Elder has continued to pitch effectively for CSUN. She has a 4.70 ERA in 25.1 innings while also holding opponents to a .327 batting average. She had a career-high six strikeouts and eight inning pitched in an extra-innings loss to UC Davis. In her first career appearance as a Matador, Elder helped lead the club in a win over Utah State. Against the Aggies, Elder started and went 4.1 innings allowing four hits, one unearned run and one walk to go along with two strikeouts. She tossed her first complete game and allowed one earned run in eight innings of work at the Northridge Classic.
La Reina De CSUN
Senior Alyssa Ray posted two RBIs in the Matadors' 5-2 victory over Cal State Fullerton. She perfectly executed a suicide squeeze and then drew a bases loaded walk. She had two hits and scored a career-high two runs in game two of a doubleheader with New Mexico. She hit her first career home run, a two-run shot against Nevada, and finished with five RBIs during CSUN's time in San Diego. She added a two-hit, two-RBI performance in Northridge's win over Fresno State. At the Kajikawa Classic, Ray started all five games at third base and finished the weekend with a .571 batting average. She had her first career hit, an RBI ground-rule double, against Nebraska and then had two hits, including another ground-rule double, against Western Michigan. She ended the weekend with a double against Arizona and is second on the team with the four doubles. For the year, Ray is batting .194 with four doubles and 11 RBIs. She also leads all Big West Conference players with a 135 defensive assists and carries a .927 fielding percentage into the weekend.