Matadors Split Doubleheader with Pacific in Big West Opener

STOCKTON, Calif. --- The Cal State Northridge softball team (6-24, 1-1 Big West) split a doubleheader with Pacific Sunday afternoon at Bill Simoni Field in both teams' Big West Conference series opener. In game one, the Matadors held on for a 4-3 victory behind some timely hitting and defense. In the second game, the Tigers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in posting a 9-1, six-inning victory.

After Pacific got a run in the first inning and both teams went quickly in the second, CSUN loaded the bases to start the third. Madeline Sale then delivered a two-run double to right-center that scored two runs and gave the Matadors the lead. Samantha Sloniker then delivered an RBI groundout that the shortstop booted to increase Northridge's lead to 3-1.

Pacific scored a run back in the bottom half of the third, but Pagano induced a 1-2-3 double play to end the threat. Jaci Carlsen drove in a run in the top of the fifth, delivering a sac fly that scored Sloniker after she led off the frame with a double.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Matadors employed some theatrics to snap their seven-game losing streak. The Tigers loaded the bases on Pagano with one out. However, Northridge ended the game with a line-out double play when Carlsen snagged a hot shot at third and tagged the runner.

Pagano (5-11) scattered eight hits and four walks with three earned runs to earn the victory. Nikki Armagost (7-4) allowed three runs, two of which were earned, in four innings to take the loss.

CSUN freshman Abby Linn had a season-high two hits in the first game and also drew a walk. Sloniker also had a two-hit performance in the first contest and scored a run and had an RBI. With her RBI in the game, Carlsen moved into a tie for 10th in school history with 84 career RBIs.  

In the second game, Pacific got to Matador pitching early and scored four runs in the first. That result chased Shelly Tait from the game, who was saddled with all four runs. The Tigers added a fifth run in the second, this one coming off Brianna Elder.

The Matadors threatened in the top of the third, putting runners on second and third with one out. Unfortunately, the next two batters flied out and the runners were stranded.

CSUN got on the board in the fifth inning. With one out, Tiffini Lucero drew a walk and then moved to second on a bunt single by Abby Linn. Sale then brought Lucero home with a single up the middle.

After the Matadors scored their only run of the game, Pacific scored twice in the fifth and ended the game on a two-run home run in the sixth. Tait (0-2) took the loss for the Matadors while Tori Shepard tossed a complete game for Pacific in the victory.

Linn had two more hits in game two for the Matadors and batted a perfect 1.000 for the day.

The Matadors and Tigers close out their three-game Monday afternoon with a game at 2 p.m. at Simoni Field. From there, CSUN hosts UC Davis in a three-game series at Matador Diamond with a doubleheader on April 6 and a single game on April 7. Both days start at noon.

Then on Easter Sunday, the Matadors host New Mexico in a doubleheader slated to start at 11 a.m. 

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