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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Northridge Opens Strong but Can't Close Out Pacific

College softball: Matadors break Tiger winning streak in first game, 3-0, but one inning leads to 5-4 defeat.

April 01, 2001|MITCH POLIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NORTHRIDGE — Aside from one inning, it was a memorable afternoon for the Cal State Northridge women's softball team.

As it was, Pacific had to struggle simply to earn a split in a Big West Conference doubleheader Saturday at Matador Diamond.

The Tigers held on to win the second game, 5-4, but not before the Matadors ended Pacific's 16-game winning streak, 3-0.

Northridge shut out the 18th-ranked Tigers (30-6, 4-1 in conference play), who had won 24 of their previous 25 games, in 13 of 14 innings.

Unfortunately for the 24th-ranked Matadors (19-16, 3-2), there was that first inning of the second game.

The first five Tigers reached base and scored five runs against Summer Richardson (2-2).

Richardson, who didn't record an out and was relieved by Tanya Ledesma, was hurt by two errors.

After Northridge rallied for three runs with none out in the fourth to make it 5-4, the Tigers turned to Cindy Ball, who allowed one hit the rest of the way.

Sarah Farnworth (13-9) of Northridge pitched a six-hitter and had four strikeouts to record her second shutout of the conference season in the first game.

Farnworth pitched the final three innings of the second game, allowing only a single.

"She just threw terrific," Coach Janet Sherman of Northridge said. "She threw a great game and then she came into the second game and kept us in it."

The Matadors took advantage of an unusually shaky pitching performance by Ball (18-4), from Camarillo High, to load the bases in the second inning and scored when Christy Menefee was hit by a pitch.

They added two runs in the fifth inning with a rally that started with two errors.

The Matadors followed with a run-scoring triple by Amber Copelan and a run-scoring single by Farnworth.

Ball, who had a 1.40 earned-run average entering the doubleheader, said it was disappointing to watch Pacific's longest winning streak in school history end.

"We've been waiting for this moment because you can't win every game," she said. "It's hard to face, but we know we can start a new streak."

Considering the way Pacific has been playing, Sherman was pleased with her team's play.

"I was happy with how we came out and played aggressively in the first game and I was happy with the comeback we had in the second game," she said.

"When we were down by five runs, [Pacific] couldn't rest. They always felt us breathing down on them."

Sherman hopes the Matadors can carry the momentum into the final game of the three-game series at noon today at Northridge.

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