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Matadors Are Better but Not Good Enough

College softball: Northridge puts up a fight but is eliminated from regional by No. 4 Oklahoma, 2-1.


NORMAN, Okla. — The play of the Cal State Northridge softball team was worlds better than the previous day.

The result was the same.

Fourth-ranked Oklahoma scored twice in the fourth inning and claimed a 2-1 victory Friday, eliminating Northridge from an NCAA Division I regional at Oklahoma.

"I'm proud of the way we played," Coach Janet Sherman of Northridge said. "They played like the team I know they are capable of being."

Although the Matadors (26-26-1) managed four hits, equaling their output in a 5-0 loss to Arkansas on Thursday, they finally scored, pitched well against a strong-hitting Oklahoma lineup and played error-free defense.

"I'm proud of how we went out," Sherman said.

Northridge attacked early with three hits in the first three innings.

Ui Bal led off the second with a triple down the right-field line. Summer Richardson reached base on an error before Elizabeth Pierce's single drove in Bal for a 1-0 lead.

But the Matadors failed to take advantage of what could have been a big inning.

After Jodi Borenstein's sacrifice moved runners to second and third, Jill Passafiume fouled out and Sarah Farnworth flew out to left field.

Meaghan Finnerty led off the third with a single to center and advanced to third on ground outs by Veronica Lopez and Jamie Moore.

Bal would have come to the plate in the original lineup.

But Sherman replaced Bal with Kim Mutaw at second base in the top of the third because she wanted a quicker second baseman to counter Oklahoma's speed and three left-handed slap hitters.

Bal could have been reinserted to bat, but that would mean Mutaw was out of the game.

"We needed the defense," said Sherman, opting to leave Mutaw in and the team's leading hitter on the bench in that situation.

It was decision that surprised and pleased Oklahoma Coach Patty Gasso.

"I thought since they were already up, 1-0, they would try to break things open more," Gasso said.

Mutaw, batting .156 in 32 at-bats, fouled out to the catcher.

In the fourth, Oklahoma had runners at first and second on a two walks with two out.

Richardson (7-9), a sophomore right-hander, appeared to strike out pinch-hitter Jennifer Stump on a 2-and-2 change-up to end the inning, but didn't get the call.

Stump eventually walked and Christy Ring followed with a two-run single up the middle.

That hit chased Richardson and Sarah Farnworth ended the inning with a strikeout.

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