After 74 wins in 87 decisions, 51 shutouts and 456 strikeouts in 650 2/3 innings, Debbie Dickmann, Cal State Northridge's All-American softball pitcher, experienced a first on Saturday.
She was replaced by Coach Gary Torgeson with a game on the line. With two out and Northridge clinging to a 6-4 lead against Humboldt State in the quarterfinals of the Sacramento tournament, Dickmann gave way to Heather Lindstrom, who recorded the last out to earn the save.
Lindstrom, a freshman from Crescenta Valley High, went on to shut out Sacramento, 1-0, and defeat Bakersfield, 3-2, the same day as CSUN won the tournament championship.
Lindstrom, who lacks the overpowering fastball of Dickmann but uses a variety of pitches with great control, has been Northridge's best pitcher of late. She has a 22-6 record with three saves and an 0.62 earned-run average.
Dickmann's ERA of 0.52 is even better, but it is also double what it was a little more than a month ago.
There is a reason for that, Torgeson learned Saturday. Dickmann, a junior from Newbury Park High, has carpal tunnel syndrome, an affliction that causes numbness in the fingers.
"It's a common softball injury," said Torgeson, who compared it to the shoulder or elbow soreness experienced by some baseball pitchers.
Dickmann said that she had been bothered by the injury for about a month. It did not become an issue, however, until Saturday.
Dickmann will be the starting pitcher for CSUN (60-17) when it opens play in the NCAA Division II West regional at home against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday. Lindstrom will pitch for the Lady Matadors in their second game of the day.
Who does Torgeson consider his ace?
"I'm stubborn. I usually go with whoever got us there," Torgeson said, referring to Dickmann. "But Heather is ready. . . . Heather is so damn mentally tough. . . . But I'm a little prone to go with the veteran because she knows what it's all about. She knows what it's like to be there. . . . But I think Heather will do it, too."
Spoken like a true diplomat.
Or a confused softball coach.
Homered by vandals: Northridge will have a new score board for the NCAA West regional, but not by choice.
Vandals destroyed the old score board last weekend, causing $300 in damage.
Torgeson believes that the crime was perpetrated by someone who holds a grudge, but he declined to identify any suspects. The baseball score board, which is less than 100 yards away, was not damaged.
The Lady Matadors' home field also was a target in 1986, the last time Northridge played host to the softball regional. The damage in that case, however, was caused by toilet paper.
"There was TP all over. And it was wet," Torgeson said. "We had the grounds people out here at 6:30 in the morning cleaning it up. A lot of it was creative. They had the player's numbers written out in toilet paper.
"It was humorous and creative, but it took us two hours to clean up. Wet toilet paper is brutal."
No pain, no gain: Sang Kim, Pierce College's top singles player, will participate in the Southern California tennis regionals on Thursday, but he will be hard-pressed to advance far.
Kim, ranked 13th in the state, had to default after reaching the quarterfinals of the Western State Conference tournament last week because of tendinitis in his right wrist.
The top eight finishers at the WSC tournament advanced to the regionals and Kim barely made it. Trailing, 5-2, to Moorpark's Mike Studebaker in the third set, Kim was approached by Pierce Coach Paul Xanthos, who asked him if it might be better--and certainly less painful--to default the match.
Kim refused and proceeded to win the next five games--and the match. Then--after meeting the qualifying standard--he quit for the day.
Unfortunately for Kim, the defaults did not help his seeding for the regional.
"He had a light workout yesterday and it was better," Xanthos said Wednesday. "But he has a lot of tough matches--a lot of playing to do to reach the quarters."
The top eight finishers in the regional advance to the state tournament.
Net profit: Karen Shin credits a new attitude for her rise in college tennis.
"I didn't put pressure on myself this year," the former Chaminade High standout said. "I said to myself, 'I've had a good three years.' So, for my senior year, I just wanted to have fun and play well."
The three-time All-American will be concluding her collegiate career over the next eight days. She will play No. 1 singles for fifth-seeded Cal against ninth-seeded Indiana today in a second-round match in the NCAA women's tennis championships in Gainesville, Fla. Shin is seeded fourth in the individual competition that begins Monday.
This winter, Shin excelled in two of the four tournaments that make up the grand slam of college tennis. She was the runner-up in December's DuPont National Collegiate Clay Court Championships at Hilton Head, S. C., and won the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Palm Springs in January.
"That was the high, because I hadn't won a tournament since juniors," Shin said. "That was the best I had played. Playing consistently well against such tough players gave me so much confidence."
Shin carried that momentum into the dual-match season, leading the Golden Bears to a 19-6 record and a share of third place in the Pacific 10 Conference Southern Division. Shin defeated Tami Whitlinger, the nation's top-ranked player, twice--the only losses the Stanford ace suffered in 20 dual matches.
Steven Herbert and staff writers Mike Hiserman, Gary Klein and Vince Kowalick contributed to this notebook.