NORTHRIDGE — The weather was a lot like the offense for the Cal State Northridge softball team Saturday afternoon: It started with a drizzle and ended in a downpour.
After getting just enough offense to edge Cal State Fullerton, 3-2, in the first game of a Big West Conference doubleheader, Northridge completed the sweep by pounding 11 hits in four innings for an 11-0 victory that was called because of the mercy rule.
And just like that, Northridge (23-14, 10-6 in conference play), which fell out of the top 25 rankings last week, is sailing along on a season-high, four-game winning streak.
The common denominator in consecutive sweeps of Long Beach State and Fullerton?
"Intensity?" Chelo Lopez guessed.
Perhaps. But the most obvious link is Lopez's hot bat. The senior first baseman homered in the four victories.
"I finally started hitting the ball," Lopez said. "I was forgetting how to do it for awhile. I'm seeing the ball a lot better and sitting back and waiting for my pitch."
Lopez, who in the past four games has raised her average from .325 to .364, was four for four against Fullerton, including two two-run home runs.
"It's nice to have her back," Coach Janet Sherman said. "Those home runs today were crushed. They were line drives and they kept going."
In the first game, Northridge did its damage in the third inning on a two-run home run by Lopez that was followed by Elizabeth Sanches' blast over the center-field fence.
Northridge's Cheri Shinn replaced starter Tara Glaister in the fourth inning. Glaister struggled early, allowing a single and a two-run home run by Christa Saindon three batters into the game.
Glaister allowed five hits and walked three in three innings.
"Tara had trouble getting a grip [on the ball] so I made a change and it solved the problem," Sherman said. "It's nice to have the depth to do that."
Shinn (8-6) allowed only a single in the fourth and a walk in the sixth, and held the Titans (18-21, 6-10) hitless for the final 3 2/3 innings.
In the second game, Lopez's
first-inning home run put the Matadors ahead, 2-0.
By the bottom of the third inning, the rain--and the Matadors--began to gain momentum.
A two-out rally that featured two singles, a hit batter and a two-run double by Augrista Belford gave Northridge a 5-0 lead.
Ashlie Hayes' two-run single to left capped a six-run outburst in the fourth, giving the Matadors an 11-0 lead.
Jessica Creith (4-0) allowed five hits and notched her third shutout.