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Northridge Lets Chance Slip Away

College softball: Matadors beat first-place Fullerton, 1-0, in opener, but errors lead to a 4-2 defeat in second game.


NORTHRIDGE — With four games remaining and playoff hopes flickering like a light at the end of a tunnel, the Cal State Northridge softball team proved Saturday it can play with one of the best teams in the country.

Just not twice in the same day.

Fueled by Sarah Farnworth's durable right arm in the opener and doomed by four errors in the second game, the Matadors split a Big West Conference doubleheader against Cal State Fullerton, winning, 1-0, before losing, 4-2.

Fullerton (42-12, 15-2 in conference play), ranked No. 8 in the nation in the USA Today coaches' poll, maintained a two-game lead over second-place Pacific (44-10, 13-4), which split a conference doubleheader against Long Beach State.

Northridge (28-21, 12-5), ranked No. 25, is in third place, three games back.

"I don't even think this was about beating them to win conference," Northridge Coach Janet Sherman said. "We talked all week about winning. Not about why, but. . . because we can."

Northridge proved it by knocking off a team that averages 5.3 runs, boasts a 1.58 earned-run average and bats .310 in conference play.

The Matadors, who don't have a batter hitting .300 or a pitcher with an ERA under 2.30, managed the victory with only two hits and excellent pitching.

Farnworth (21-13), who pitched all 14 innings against the Titans, scattered four singles in the first game and was able to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth with a fly ball and a groundout.

Northridge scored the only run it would need in the first inning. Christen Bedwell led off with a walk and advanced to second on Amber Copelan's sacrifice.

One out later, Sondra Milchiker doubled to right-center field to score Bedwell.

By the second game, Fullerton had Farnworth figured out but needed help to put together rallies. Northridge obliged with faulty defense.

"If we [play] like we did in the first game, we're right there," Sherman said. "We win, 2-0, 2-1."

Fullerton scored two runs in the second on two hits and two errors.

Northridge answered in its half of the second when Milchiker walked before Farnworth hit a triple and scored on an error to tie the score, 2-2.

Fullerton scored the go-ahead run, its only earned run, in the fourth on Jenny Topping's bases-loaded groundout, and added a run in the sixth.

Freshman Julie Watson, from Saugus High, had three of the Titans' nine hits in the second game.

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