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A Windmill Windchill : Matadors Have New Pitching Coach and New Problems

March 20, 1997|PAIGE A. LEECH

Twenty three games into the college softball season for Cal State Northridge, this much is clear: there is a definite correlation between the earned-run average of the pitching staff and the national ranking of the Matadors.

The staff ERA continues to rise and the Matadors keep on falling.

The Matadors (11-10-2), who have lost eight of 12 games, have fallen to No. 24 in the national coaches' poll and are in trouble of dropping out for the first time since 1992.

Northridge faces Florida and Fresno State in pool play games today in the Cal State Fullerton tournament.

Although the Matadors are batting only .261 as a team, it is the subpar pitching that has left Northridge vulnerable.

The staff ERA has climbed from 0.50 after two games, to 1.68 after 11, to 2.42 after 17 and beyond.

Pitchers Tara Glaister and Cheri Shinn, both with ERAs of 2.50 or more, are a combined 2.76--nearly one run more than the previous team high of 1.78 in 1991.

The pitchers have already given up more home runs than last year--11 in 23 games so far. Last year, they surrendered 10 in 59 games.

Glaister (6-6), a sophomore right-hander who was 22-7 with a team-best 1.31 ERA last season, is the lone returning pitcher who is enduring a sophomore jinx--and then some.

The most noticeable difference from last year to this is that somebody other than the catcher is calling the pitches.

Pitching coach Randy Roeder, a volunteer with an extensive background in men's fastpitch softball, joined the staff this season and calls each pitch.

Roeder relays the pitch to the catcher by hand signals and the catcher relays the signal to the pitcher.

Although it is not foreign to have somebody other than the catcher call pitches in college softball, it has never been Northridge's practice in Division I to do it in every game, on every pitch.

Catchers Scia Maumausolo and Jennifer Parker called the pitches last season.

Parker, a senior this season, said the new practice disrupts the flow of the game but is not about to complain about it.

"Whatever it takes to win," she said.

Coach Janet Sherman, a former catcher who called pitches at UCLA, defends her decision to have Roeder call pitches and said he, nor the practice is to blame for the inconsistency of the pitchers.

"Randy's not throwing the pitches," Sherman said. "The pitchers are throwing the pitches."

And the batters are hitting them.

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