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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Northridge Becomes Catchall

College softball: Matadors minimize errors and sweep Utah State, 3-0 and 2-1.

March 25, 2001|STEVE GALLUZZO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NORTHRIDGE — The Cal State Northridge softball team picked the right time to clean up its act.

Having committed 39 errors in 28 games, including a school record-tying six in a 9-7 loss to Northwestern on Thursday, the Matadors focused on defense in a practice on Friday that carried over to Saturday's doubleheader against Utah State.

Northridge used near-flawless fielding, solid pitching by Sarah Farnworth and a run-scoring single by Colleen Spencer in the eighth inning of the second game to open Big West Conference play with 3-0 and 2-1 victories.

Northridge (17-13) stranded 10 runners in the first seven innings of game two. With one out in the eighth, Amber Grahlman was hit by a pitch in front of singles by Amber Copelan and Kim Mutaw to load the bases for Spencer.

"At first, I was just looking for an inside pitch," said Spencer, who had three hits. "The first two pitches were balls, so then my thinking was that a walk is as good as a hit. Then she threw an inside pitch and I was able to turn on it."

Farnworth (12-7) pitched a one-hitter and followed with a six-hitter against Utah State (4-20), which upset top-ranked Fresno State, 4-1, in the Kia Classic at Fullerton eight days earlier.

"I didn't even tell my girls that team's record," Northridge Coach Janet Sherman said. "All I told them is that they beat Fresno State."

Sondra Milchiker hit a three-run homer run in the first inning of the opener and doubled before scoring on a squeeze by Monica Rodriguez to tie the score, 1-1, in the second inning of the second game.

Shauna Lane made the Matadors' only error when she dropped a sure out at first base in the seventh inning of game two, but she redeemed herself on the next pitch with a diving catch of a foul pop-up.

Copelan had 11 assists and four putouts at shortstop in the two games.

"We didn't get the key hits we needed in that second game, but it helps having Sarah [Farnworth] pitching," Sherman said.

Farnworth allowed one earned run and one walk in 15 innings with 11 strikeouts.

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