Nov. 29, 2010
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Former All-American and Olympic Gold Medalist Natasha Watley will join the Cal State Northridge softball team as a volunteer assistant coach, head coach Tairia Flowers announced. Watley will work with the Matador hitters and infielders while also serving administrative responsibilities.
"We're excited as a team to have someone of Natasha's stature join our program," Flowers said. "She brings an outstanding level of skill and knowledge to the team and will serve as a valuable asset to the program."
Watley was a four-time, first-team All-American, All-Region and All-Pac-10 selection at shortstop during her playing career at UCLA. Watley's collegiate career ended in dramatic style as she led the Bruins to the 2003 NCAA Championship.
Following her collegiate career, Watley was named to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, where she would go on to start at shortstop and hit .400 (12-for-30) for the United States in the Athens Olympics. Watley started all nine games for Team USA, turning in a double, a triple and five stolen bases in those starts and helping the U.S. to the gold medal.
In 2008 at the Beijing Games, Team USA won a silver medal, as Watley hit .321 (9-for-28) with six runs scored, six runs batted in, two homers and two steals. She had a hit in eight of the nine games, starting every contest at shortstop.
Following the 2004 Olympics, Watley spent five seasons as a volunteer assistant coach at UCLA. Watley graduated from UCLA with a sociology degree in 2005.
The Matadors also released their 2011 schedule, featuring five preseason tournaments and 14 games at Matador Diamond in Flowers' first season as head coach.
"We've compiled a challenging schedule that will prepare us for a competitive season in the Big West Conference," Flowers added.
In all, Northridge will play a total of 53 games in 2011, 21 of which will be in the Big West Conference. CSUN will play nine different opponents and a total of 15 games against teams that qualified for the 2010 NCAA Tournament, including defending National Champion UCLA and National Runner-Up, Arizona.
CSUN will play in tournaments in Tempe, Ariz., Las Vegas, Nev., Riverside, Calif., Fullerton, Calif., and San Diego, Calif. They will play three three-game home series in the Big West, hosting Pacific, Cal Poly and UC Riverside. They will travel for league series at UC Davis, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Fullerton.
The home opener will be against UCLA on Wednesday, Feb. 23 when the defending national champions come calling to Matador Diamond. CSUN will also host North Dakota, IUPFW and Cal State Bakersfield.
Last season, CSUN finished 31-22 overall and 15-6 in Big West play to earn a share of the league's title. The Matadors return four All-Big West First Team honorees from that squad for the 2011 campaign.
Photos Courtesy of UCLA Athletics