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Northridge Goes South in Sweep by Sacramento

Softball: Matadors give away Big West Conference title by losing three of last four and could miss NCAA tournament.

May 07, 1997|PAIGE A. LEECH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — A week ago, Cal State Northridge was sitting pretty with the Big West Conference softball title all but wrapped up with four games to play, doubleheaders against a last-place team and one which was .500 in conference play.

And a Big West conference title means an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Then it happened.

"April ended," Coach Janet Sherman offered glibly, after watching the Matadors get swept by Cal State Sacramento, 2-0 in eight innings and 7-3, Tuesday in a conference and home finale.

The Matadors went 14-4 (13-2 in conference play) in April and were atop the standings by one game after sweeping Fullerton on April 30. Despite splitting with last-place Utah State on Friday, Northridge still could have shared the conference title with Long Beach State had it swept Sacramento.

But Northridge (34-20-2, 21-11 in conference play) lost three of its last four, including three straight, and finished the regular season tied for second.

The Matadors are at the mercy of the NCAA seeding committee, which will announce Sunday the 32 teams in the tournament.

"I'm very proud of this team for getting back in the hunt in April," Sherman said. "We proved we are contenders."

Northridge looked anything but against Sacramento (31-23-1, 16-14), a team the Matadors had beaten three times in as many tries this season.

The opener was a duel between Northridge ace Tara Glaister and Susie Bugliarello of Sacramento.

Glaister (22-10) retired the first 11 batters and surrendered just two hits through seven innings.

But with two out in the eighth, Glaister gave up a two-run double to Tara Peterson.

Bugliarello (20-9), who leads the conference with 9.87 strikeouts per seven innings, scattered five hits, struck out six and walked.

Northridge had runners at first and third and two out in the bottom of the eighth, but Chelo Lopez grounded to shortstop.

"Sac State came out and surprised us and we couldn't bounce back," Lopez said.

In the second game, Sacramento had nine hits against Cheri Shinn (12-10), including a grand slam by Jill Haas in the fourth to give the Hornets a 6-1 lead. Haas was tossed out of the first game after arguing a called third strike.

Northridge added a run in the fourth on Shelby Wilcox's solo homer and another on a seventh-inning error, but couldn't mount a big rally.

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