NORTHRIDGE, Calif. ---
The Cal State Northridge softball team (23-29, 9-11 Big West) defeated UC Riverside 5-1 and 8-5 Saturday afternoon in a Big West Conference doubleheader at Matador Diamond. Seniors Shelly Tait and Mia Pagano picked up wins in the circle and big innings at the plate sent the Matadors to the two wins over the Highlanders.
In game one, Jennifer Tyler hit a crucial three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth. The deep fly was the first of her Matador career. Making her first start of her career, sophomore Adrienne Martinez went 2-for-3 and recorded her first career double and RBI.
"I know I have put in the work and it was an opportunity given to me," Martinez said. "I had chances in the past but had not got it done, but getting that first hit put a huge grin on my face. We battled back and fought until the very end and the outcomes showed it."
Game two saw the Highlanders jump out to an early 5-2 lead before Northridge scored five unearned runs in the fifth. Pagano went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Tiffini Lucero and Crystal Maas each scored two runs.
"In game one, I wanted to have Shelly's back," Pagano said. She was able to back that up by cutting down a Highlander at the plate in the top of the sixth. "On that play, it was a slow hit ball up the middle that I charged in on hard because one of their faster runners was on second. Mikayla made a great block at the plate and we through her out."
Game One Recap
Shelly Tait (11-11) tossed a complete game and allowed one unearned run as CSUN defeated UCR 5-1. Tait worked around five hits and four walks to post her team-leading 11th victory of the season. She also had two strikeouts.
Mikayla Thielges got things started offensively for the Matadors. She blasted her team-leading seventh home run of the season to break a scoreless tie to lead off the bottom of the fourth. She know has 26 career home runs.
After UC Riverside tied things with an unearned run in the top of the fifth, Jennifer Tyler came through with a big hit. Tiffini Lucero started the frame with a walk and Thielges was hit by a pitch to put two runners on base. With two outs, Tyler cleared the fence in left field to give the Matadors a 4-1 lead.
"It felt like the right time and I am glad it happened when it did," Tyler said. "I felt like I had her number for the whole game. I had a 10-pitch at bat and an eight-pitch at bat, so I was seeing her very well."
Pagano extended the inning with a bunt single and she came all the way around to score on an RBI double by Adrienne Martinez.
Alyssa Razo took the loss for UC Riverside and allowed five earned runs in six innings.
Game Two Recap
The Matadors rallied from a 5-2 deficit to defeat UC Riverside 8-5 in the second game of the doubleheader. The victory gave CSUN its third Big West series win of the year.
CSUN scored first in the second contest, putting two across in the bottom of the first.
After putting the first two runners, the Matadors loaded the bases with two outs. Pagano took the first pitch she saw into the left-center gap for a two-run double.
UC Riverside answered with a three-run home run in the top of the third off CSUN starter Alexa Limon. That chased her from the circle and Mia Pagano (8-8) went the rest of the way for the Matadors.
The Highlanders tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth before CSUN responded in the bottom of the frame.
However, the next two batters were unable to produce and UCR nearly ended the threat. Mikayla Thielges then drew an RBI walk and Jennifer Tyler reached on an error by the shortstop to bring home two runs. Pagano then collected an RBI single, Maylynn Mitchell drew a bases-loaded walk and a fifth run scored on an illegal pitch.
The Matadors scored a sixth unearned run in the contest in the bottom of the fifth. Tiffini Lucero, who had singled with two outs, scored on an error by the UCR third baseman.
Pagano earned her eighth win of the season after tossing 4.2 innings of relief work. She allowed five hits and two earned runs to go with two strikeouts.
Ashle Ercolano took the loss for UC Riverside, allowing five hits and four walks in 3.2 innings of work.
The Matadors will look to close out the Highlanders Sunday when the two meet in a single game. First pitch is slated for noon, but the Matadors will honor their six seniors participating in the final home game of their career before the contest: Alexa Limon, Korinne Randazzo, Mikayla Thielges, Mia Pagano, Shelly Tait and Tiffini Lucero.