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Northridge Left With That Empty Feeling

Softball: Matadors get just three hits against Cal and are eliminated from the Division I Regional, 3-2.

May 18, 1997|PAIGE A. LEECH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

FRESNO — The Cal State Northridge softball team's slide into the postseason came to a grinding halt Saturday as it managed just three hits against California in a 3-2 nine-inning loss in the first elimination game of an NCAA Division I Regional at Fresno State.

Playing in front of only a few hundred who remained from the original 1,956 that watched Fresno State defeat Long Beach State, 5-2, in 10 innings in an earlier winner's bracket game, Northridge was as lackluster as the stadium was empty.

Still, the Matadors, who hadn't gone winless in regionals since 1991, were helped along by five Cal errors, two walks and a hit batter and owned leads of 1-0 and 2-1. But Northridge, ending its season with five consecutive losses, went without a hit in the final five innings against a pitcher who had given up nine hits Friday night to Fresno State.

Cal's Holly Yost (28-20), a sophomore right-hander who entered the game with a 2.75 earned-run average, scattered three hits in the first four innings and then shut down the Matadors.

Despite the futility at the plate, Northridge Coach Janet Sherman insisted her team had battled and defended--with fiery emotion in the postgame interviews--the Matadors' inability to ignite rallies with hits.

"We had somebody get hit by a pitch trying to get something started, we had people hit the ball out of the infield, but they didn't fall," Sherman said. "We did the best we could. I'm proud of the heart and the way we fought. They gave me all they could. They did their best."

Others weren't quite as upbeat.

"Personally, I just didn't make any adjustments [at the plate]. [Yost] pitched me outside all day and I just didn't adjust," said Chelo Lopez, a .352 hitter who walked once and went hitless in three at-bats against Cal.

Northridge (34-22-2) had the opportunity to bust open the game in the second with bases loaded and one out. Senior Shelby Wilcox, who grew up in nearby Clovis, hit a bloop single to left to score Elizabeth Sanches, who doubled to right-center to lead off the inning.

But Jamie Herrington's ground ball to second baseman Kirsten Drake resulted in a force out at the plate and Katrina Nolletti, a Fresno native, popped out to Drake four pitches later to end the inning.

Cal (34-25) tied it in the fifth.

Northridge's Cheri Shinn, who allowed four hits through four-plus innings, was pulled in favor of Tara Glaister (22-12) in the fifth with a runner at third and one out. Glaister's first pitch got away from catcher Jennifer Parker for a passed ball and Karen Bonini, who reached on a fielding error to lead off the inning, scored easily to tie it, 1-1.

Northridge scored again in the sixth to reclaim the lead. Laura Redding was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, went to second on a fielding error, to third on Kelly Toovey's sacrifice and scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by Wilcox, her second RBI of the day.

But the Golden Bears responded in their half of the inning, scoring Dina Frandsen from first on a double to left by Jessica Parker.

Yost retired the last nine batters she faced in order, allowing only a base runner on an errant throw to start the seventh.

Cal scored the winning run in the ninth.

Katie May, who doubled to lead off the inning, scored on Megumi Takasaki's sacrifice fly to right with one out to end it.

Fresno State will face Cal today at 1 p.m. for the regional championship. Cal must win twice to reach the World Series.

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