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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Northridge Has Blank Look in a 5-0 Setback

College softball: Matadors' mistakes and lack of hitting make it easy for Arkansas.

May 19, 2000|PAIGE A. LEECH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORMAN, Okla. — Halfway across the country, the scenery looks about the same for the Cal State Northridge softball team.

The Matadors looked like a broken-down Buick in the middle of nowhere Thursday.

And no relief in sight.

Northridge errors, mental lapses, subpar pitching and anemic offense provided Arkansas with a 5-0 victory over the Matadors in front of 293 in a first-round game of the NCAA Division I Regional Three at Oklahoma.

"We came a long way to be disappointed," said Coach Janet Sherman, speaking softly in the postgame interview.

Sherman had little to praise after watching the Matadors lose for the eighth time in 11 games.

Northridge must beat top-seeded Oklahoma (59-8) today at 3 p.m. PDT to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament. Oklahoma defeated Harvard, 11-0, in a first-round game Thursday.

Trailing by a run, Northridge (26-25-1) lost its grip in the fourth inning.

With Razorbacks at first and second and two out, pinch-hitter Brett Erickson punched a soft blooper just beyond second base.

Shortstop Jodi Borenstein fielded the ball and flipped to second baseman Ui Bal for what should have been a force out at second to end the inning.

But Bal, who seemed surprised by the flip, was positioned about five feet in front of the base. Aly Sartini was safe at second and Arkansas had its second run.

"I was going up the middle [on the hit]," Bal said. "I was just in the wrong position."

That mental mistake led to a costly error two batters later.

With bases loaded and two out, Andy Martin singled to left field. The ground ball skipped under the glove of charging outfielder Jill Passafiume and three runs scored.

"Generally I count on our defense to hold us through," Sherman said. "And if it's a 1-0 ballgame, we have a much better focus to come back and get a run versus five [runs]."

Arkansas (43-29) bunched four of its eight hits in the inning.

Sarah Farnworth (18-16) of Northridge allowed seven hits before being relieved in the fifth.

The Matadors, who had only four hits, had the opportunity to take the lead in the second inning.

Jamie Moore walked to lead off the inning and went to second on Bal's sacrifice. After Jessica Creith flied out to right field, Meaghan Finnerty ripped an opposite-field line drive that touched down just inside the right-field foul line.

Right fielder Dana Gulick claimed the ball near the fence in foul territory, and fired a one-hop strike to catcher Danica Howlett to nail Moore, who squandered precious time with an unnecessary slide around the catcher.

"The on-deck batter was telling her to go around [the catcher]," Sherman said. "If [Moore] had gone straight in, she would have been safe."

For Arkansas, it was a turning point.

"It sparked the team," Coach Carie Dever-Boaz said of Arkansas. "Quite frankly, when she threw her out, I heard everybody loosen up . . . and start breathing."

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