UCR softball (24-21, 6-8) took a trip to Northridge this Saturday, April 29 for a weekend series against the Cal State Northridge Matadors (28-18, 8-6). The series was opened with an afternoon doubleheader that the Highlanders split, falling 10-5 in the first game but picking up a 9-2 win in the second.
The Matadors jumped out of the gate in the first game due in part to the Highlanders’ own actions. They committed a season-high six errors, and quickly put pressure on Highlander starter Taylor Misfeldt. The first two batters Misfeldt faced were able to reach base successfully, allowing Northridge to sacrifice bunt while maintaining scoring pressure, putting runners on second and third with one out. Misfeldt was able to escape the inning with only one run scored allowed, but the Highlanders could not put runs on the board to support her. They remained scoreless until the fifth inning, and only managed to put four runners on base in the previous four.
Northridge would not be stopped for long, exploding in the third inning after a scoreless second. Much of the damage was self-inflicted for the Highlanders, as Misfeldt walked the leadoff batter in the third which was followed by a fielding error that got the Matadors going. CSUN ended the inning with only two hits, but scored four runs due to the leadoff walk and two Highlander errors. The Highlanders could not shake this error bug off, committing two more errors in the fourth inning along with a hit by pitch walk, which resulted in a three-run inning for the Matadors to increase the Highlander deficit to a daunting 8-0.
The game seemed to flip on its head for a moment in the fifth inning. Second baseman Haley Harris opened the inning with a single, but three separate throwing errors committed by the Matadors in the inning allowed the Highlanders to slowly begin their crawl back into the game. But CSUN would soon squash those hopes with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth, including one scored on the scorecard as an “illegal pitch,” bringing their lead to 10-3. The Highlanders would manage two more runs in the sixth when right fielder Madeline Richard hit a bases-loaded single up the middle after the Highlanders gradually put more runners on to bring the score to its final mark of 10-5. There was simply not enough time as a scoreless seventh spelt doom for the Highlanders. CSUN starter Daphne Pofek was the only pitcher for the Matadors, allowing five runs but only one earned on four hits with three walks in seven innings.
The second game was a much cleaner affair for the Highlanders, as they kept both themselves and the Matadors in control in a 9-2 victory. Just as Pofek went the distance for CSUN in game one, Highlander pitcher Jacy Boles pitched a complete game in the second game of the doubleheader, yielding just two runs on seven hits and four walks while recording just one strikeout. Unlike the sustained attack on Northridge in the first game, the Highlanders instead did their damage in two separate bursts. The first came in the third inning, led off by a single from shortstop Hannah Rodriguez followed by a Richard walk. Center fielder Jenna Curtan was able to drive them both in with a double on the next at-bat. A Matador pitching change couldn’t stop the Highlanders, as the next batter, Danielle Ortega, was able to advance Curtan to third to continue the Highlander onslaught, which ended in a four-run third inning.
The second outburst came in the sixth with another self-inflicted run to start. First baseman Brittney Garcia started the inning being hit by a pitch, then moved to second on a wild pitch. Another hit-by-pitch and passed ball later, and the Highlanders got all the pressure they needed to burst. They added another four runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh to reach their final run total, ending the game 9-2.
The Highlanders continue their Big West schedule hosting Long Beach State for a three-game series from Saturday, May 6 to Sunday, May 7, including the annual “Pink Game” promoting breast cancer awareness on Sunday.