February 9, 2011

Northridge Heads to ASU's Kajikawa Classic to Open 2011 Season

Feb. 9, 2011

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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CSUN Schedule of Games (All Times Pacific)

2.11.11 / 8:30 a.m. Northridge vs. San Jose State 

2.11.11 / 11 a.m. Northridge vs. No. 18 Stanford

2.12.11 / 8 a.m. Northridge vs. Western Michigan

2.12.11 / 1:30 p.m. Northridge vs. No. 12 California

2.13.11 / 9:30 a.m. Northridge vs. Portland State

 

Under New Leadership, Matadors Look to Defend big West Title

The Cal State Northridge softball team opens a new era in 2011 season when it participates in Arizona State's Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Emboldened by a new coaching staff and the return of four All-Big West First Team selections from a year ago, the Matadors enter the 2011 season determined to defend their Big West Conference title and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

In 2011, CSUN brings in one of its largest rosters in school history, giving new head coach Tairia Flowers plenty of combinations and possibilities for the Matador line-up. Leading the way for CSUN in the batting order are the team's three returning All-Big West selections from a year ago. Seniors Tracy Allen and Jennifer Mosier and junior Jaci Carlsen will all look to build upon the success they had in 2010 with bigger seasons in 2011.

Joining the trio are a pair of seniors, Kristen Mihm and Karla Chaparro, who set several new career highs a year ago and are looking to close out their Matador careers with even bigger seasons. Behind the plate, expect sophomore Mikayla Thielges to see a jump in her production with the increase in playing time.

Early offerings from the team's numerous newcomers indicate juniors Samantha Sloniker and freshman Tanna Bindi should expect to see immediate time in the line-up and in the field. Sloniker is a junior transfers who experienced success at the junior college level, while Bindi is expected to take over responsibilities at first base.

In the circle, the Matadors will be led by junior Hannah Fraijo, the fourth returning All-Big West First Team selection from a year ago. She will be joined by an array of new arms, including freshmen Carly Wade, Leann Lopez and Ashley Aratow. All three bring extensive and successful prep careers to the Matadors and will be counted upon from day one to eat up innings in the circle.

Of course, the other big news surrounding Northridge softball as it enters the 2011 season is the new coaching staff leading the Matadors. In addition to Flowers, who was a member of Team USA in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, the Matadors will be led by Caitlin Benyi, Tia Meza and Natasha Watley, all of whom bring illustrious playing and coaching credentials to CSUN.

In Tempe, the Matadors will be tested from the onset. They open the competition against San Jose State, an important game as both SJSU and CSUN are in the same region. Following that game, Northridge faces No. 18 Stanford, the first of two times the Matadors will face the Cardinal in 2011. On Saturday, the Matadors open the day with Western Michigan and then face No. 12 Cal, their second Pac 10 foe of the weekend. Northridge's time in the tournament concludes on Sunday when its squares off against Portland State, a team that defeated the Matadors twice in 2010.

Schedule Note

Due to some travel issues surrounding the Matadors' game Sunday against Portland State, the game has been moved from the Tempe Sports Complex. The Matadors and Vikings will now play Sunday, Feb. 13 at South Mountain Community College at 10:30 a.m. (MT) / 9:30 a.m. (PT). South Mountain CC is located at 7050 S 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85042. The Matadors' games on Friday and Saturday will remain at the Tempe Sports Complex, which is located at 8401 South Hardy Drive, Tempe, Arizona 85284.

Preseason Prognostications

The Matadors, who finished 2010 at 31-22 overall and 15-6 in the Big West to earn a share of the league title with UC Davis, were picked to finish third by the conference's coaches in their 2011 Preseason Poll. Northridge received 41 points in the poll, though it did not receive a first place vote. For the second-straight year, Cal Poly was picked to win the league, receiving 54 points and three first-place votes. UC Davis, who CSUN tied for the Big West Conference championship in 2010, was picked second with 51 points and three first-place votes. Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside received the other two first place votes in the poll.

Defensive Dynamos

Over the past three seasons, one of Northridge softball's strengths has been its defensive play. Last season, the team sported a .970 fielding percentage (1085 PO, 491 A, 49 E) to lead the Big West Conference and rank 34th in Division-I. The team also turned 21 double plays in 2010, an average of 0.4 per game, the 25th-best figure in Division-I.

Individually, senior Tracy Allen led the Big West with 151 defensive assists and fellow senior Karla Chaparro finished fifth with 109. The starting left-side of the Matador defense, Chaparro and Allen carry career defensive percentages of .953 and .935, respectively, into their final seasons. In fact, CSUN's three-year average in fielding percentage is .967 in a total of 4,553 chances.

We're All Making Sacrifices Around Here

Over the past two seasons, CSUN has finished second (2009, 55) and first (2010, 56) in the Big West Conference in sacrifice bunts. Over the past three seasons, Northridge has averaged over 50 sac bunts per season. Karla Chaparro owns 21 career sac bunts, the most of any Matador on the team. She finished tied for seventh in the Big West with eight sac bunts in the 2010 season.

Basepaths Beware

For head coach Tairia Flowers, CSUN brings in a steep tradition for aggressively attacking the basepaths. Last year, the Matadors finished 39-of-51 in stolen base opportunities. Jennifer Mosier led the team with a school Division-I-record 18 stolen bases, which ranks ninth in school history for a single season. Jaci Carlsen added six, Tracy Allen finished with four and Karla Chaparro had three in 2010. Mosier has 21 career steals in 23 chances while Chaparro is 17-for-26, Allen is 14-of-19 and Carlsen is 10-of-12. Over the past three seasons, CSUN has swiped 141 bases in 189 chances, a success rate of 75 percent and an average of 47 a year.

I Have the Power

Northridge certainly packed an offensive punch in 2010. After finishing 2009 with a team slugging percentage of .303, the Matadors posted a league-best .398 slugging percentage in 2010. A lot of that jump was due to the Matadors' surge in home runs, going from nine in 2009 to 33 in 2010, the second-most in the conference. Additionally, CSUN led the Big West in on-base percentage (.358), runs scored (239), RBIs (205) and total bases (552). Individually, Northridge had three players finish in the league's Top 10 in slugging and two in batting average and OBP. All those players return to the team in 2011.

Taking one for the Team

Over the past three seasons, Northridge batters have recorded 130 hit-by-pitches, an average of over 43 painful passes to first base per year. In 2010, CSUN led the Big West with 60 HBP and had two players rank in Division-I's Top 50 in Hit-By-Pitch per game. One of those players was junior Jaci Carlsen, who was hit 12 times to rank 47th in the nation at 0.23 per game.

Scheduling Story

In her first season as the head of the Matadors, Tairia Flowers and Northridge will face a tough slate of games in 2011. Of their 53 scheduled contests, CSUN will play a total of 11 games against teams ranked in the initial polls. That figure includes three games at No. 1 Arizona, two games against No. 12 California and No. 18 Stanford and CSUN's 2011 home opener against UCLA (No. 1) on Feb. 23. Outside of the Pac 10, CSUN will face nationally ranked BYU (No. 16), Hawai'i (No. 8) and Ohio State (No. 22). The Matadors will also play contests against Louisville and Oregon State, teams that received votes in the initial polls.

Run Forrest Run

Senior Jennifer Mosier, who earned 2010 All-Big West First Team honors, was one of five players in the Big West to finish ranked among the top 10 in batting average (.367, second, team high), slugging percentage (.547, fourth) and on base percentage (.470, second, team high). For the season, Mosier also led CSUN in hits (51), walks (27) and stolen bases (18). She added to that seven doubles, six home runs and 23 RBIs. Her 18 stolen bases were the most by an individual Matador since 1990, setting a new program Division I record, and rank ninth in school history for a single season.

Allen Wrenches Her Way into Offensive Fixture

Senior Tracy Allen, another Matador to earn All-Big West First Team honors in 2010, had an outstanding junior season both at the plate and the hot corner. She started every game for CSUN at third base in 2010, finishing with new career highs in batting average (.307), hits (50), doubles (8), home runs (7), RBIs (36) and total bases (79). Allen also added a .485 slugging percentage, which ranked ninth in the Big West, four stolen bases and a league-high 151 defensive assists.

Karla's Korner

Senior Karla Chaparro has been a mainstay at shortstop for Northridge over the past two seasons, having started every game. In 2010, Chaparro batted a career-high .243 and also set new career bests with 23 runs, 35 hits, eight doubles, 18 RBIs and 10 walks. Defensively, Chaparro has been outstanding and brings in a career .953 fielding percentage (202 PO, 301 A, 25 E).

Mihm's the Word

Senior Kristen Mihm is looking to have a breakout campaign in her final season for the Matadors. Northridge's top threat as a pinch-hitter since she arrived on campus, Mihm set new career highs in batting average (.302), runs (14), hits (19), doubles (3), home runs (2), RBIs (9) and total bases (28). Both of her home runs last season, the first two of her career, were memorable, lifting CSUN to wins over Oklahoma and UC Riverside.

It Certainly Ain't Hannah Montana

Junior Hannah Fraijo, who earned All-Big West First Team honors in 2010, was one of the Big West's most dominant pitchers last year. Statistically, she finished 18-8 with a 2.69 ERA, 102 K's and a .252 opponent-batting average in 182 innings of work. In terms of her competition, Fraijo led the league in wins, was fourth in ERA and opponent-batting average, second in innings pitched and sixth in strikeouts. She added to that 14 complete games, three shutouts and one save. In two seasons, she is 25-12 with a 2.68 ERA and 153 K's in 272 innings.

Reno 911

Junior Jaci Carlsen, who earned All-Big West First Team honors for her play at second base, was a steady fixture in the line-up for Northridge in 2010. She was one of five players in the Big West to finish ranked among the top 10 in batting average (.324, ninth), slugging percentage (.599, fourth, team high) and on base percentage (.424, fifth). Carlsen added to that a league-high 44 RBIs and 21 extra-base hits, courtesy of 11 doubles, two triples and eight home runs. Defensively, Carlsen sported a .965 fielding percentage in 2010 (111 PO, 82 A, 7 E).

Newcomer Notes

After losing seven letterwinners from a season ago, the Matadors welcome in a cavalcade of new faces for the 2011 season. In the circle, CSUN features three new faces: Ashley Aratow (Fr.), Leann Lopez (Fr.) and Carly Wade (Fr.).

Wade is a left-handed pitcher from Mater Dei HS in Orange County, Calif., who transferred to Northridge after spending the 2010 fall semester at Stony Brook. Aratow is another rookie who brings extensive credentials from her time at the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES). Lopez, a freshman from Redlands, Calif., spent most of the fall season in the circle for Northridge after injuries robbed the team of the services of its other pitchers. Another freshman pitcher, Brianna Elder, plans on taking a redshirt for the 2011 season.

The team has also been spurred by the addition of four junior college transfers: Jessica Fridwall, Korinne Randazzo, Alyssa Ray and Samantha Sloniker. Randazzo and Fridwall were teammates at Mt. SAC and helped lead the Mounties to a state championship in 2009. Sloniker arrives at CSUN after spending the past two seasons at College of the Canyons while Ray was at Allen Hancock, where she played for former Matador great Scia Maumausolo.

In addition to Lopez, the team has three other freshman joining the team for their first season in the college ranks: Madeline Sale, Tanna Bindi and Adrienne Martinez. Sale is a catcher who prepped at Esperanza HS in Yorba Linda, Calif. Bindi is from Stockton, Calif., and should compete for playing time at first base. Martinez is another utility player at Flowers' disposal, having helped Kennedy HS to a Los Angeles city championship last season.

 

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