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Gritty Getherall Fights Back : Softball: Lady Matadors’ steadying influence at shortstop demonstrates a new-found ability to bounce back from the bad bounces.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The place was Sioux Falls, S.D. The game was the championship of the NCAA Division II softball Midwest regional.

Cal State Northridge was clinging to a 1-0 lead over host Augustana College on Sunday, but the Vikings had a runner in scoring position with one out in the fourth inning.

Kathy Orstad, the potential tying run at second base, reached first on a ground ball that took a wicked hop and bounced off Northridge shortstop Anna Getherall’s left shoulder.

A generous scorer gave Orstad a hit, but Getherall and the crowd knew better.

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“I thought it was an error,” she said.

“E-6,” shouted several Augustana rooters.

“Hit it to number 10 (Getherall) again,” added another.

It was the wrong thing to say.

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“I heard the fans and that really pumped me up,” said Getherall, a two-time All-California Collegiate Athletic Assn. selection. “I just said, ‘Hit it to me every time. Hit me every single ball.’ ”

The next batter, Ferris Grund, hit a shot at Getherall that the 5-foot-2 senior fielded cleanly, and, after looking Orstad back to second, gunned to first for the second out.

Chris Ross followed with a sharp grounder to the left of second, but Getherall flagged the ball and threw to first for the third out.

End of inning. End of potential rally, and for all intents and purposes, end of Augustana’s season as Northridge pitcher Debbie Dickmann retired the side in order in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

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“That’s something that I’ve really worked on this year,” Getherall said. “In the past, if I made an error, I’d get down on myself and everyone in the ballpark knew it. . . . I’d hang my head and the opposing team would purposely try to hit it to me. But this year, I just wanted to show people that I can come back after messing up.”

She hasn’t erred too often.

Entering CSUN’s game at 7 tonight (EDT) against Missouri Southern State (36-7) in the first round of the Division II Final Four at Midland Currie Stadium, Getherall has a .958 fielding percentage, having committed only 11 errors in 67 games.

She is one of the reasons Northridge (49-19) is ranked No. 1 and looking for its fifth Division II title in the past eight years.

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“I really feel like she’s as good as any shortstop in the country,” Northridge Coach Gary Torgeson said. “She plays all phases of the game very well. . . . I’ve seen the top shortstops play and there’s nobody with better range and a better arm for the sidearm throw than she has.”

As the No. 2 hitter, Getherall is batting .267, has a team-high 32 sacrifices and has driven in 20 runs, second most on the team.

Getherall had no intention of going to Northridge after being an All-Southern Section 3-A Division selection at Hacienda Heights Wilson High in 1985 and 1986.

She was set to sign a national letter of intent with the University of New Mexico when her father, Joe, a former player in the Boston Red Sox triple-A organization, encouraged her to attend a softball clinic at CSUN.

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“I had never even heard of Northridge until my dad told me about them,” Getherall said. “I had no idea where it was, or if they were any good. But I liked the campus and I was really impressed with how close-knit the team was.”

After playing sparingly (16 games) as a freshman, when Northridge won its fourth Division II title in a five-year span, Getherall played in 35 of 66 games as a sophomore before becoming a starter last season.

She had a .948 fielding percentage, hit .239 and was second on the team with 29 runs batted in, but it wasn’t a particularly memorable year for Getherall or her teammates.

For the first time in nine seasons, the Lady Matadors failed to qualify for the Division II championships as CCAA rival--and eventual national champion--Cal State Bakersfield defeated Northridge for the West regional title at CSUN.

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“That team was as talented as any team I’ve been on here,” Getherall said. “We had the talent to win it all last year, But there were just too many cliques on the team and it cost us in the playoffs.”

A return to an aggressive style of play has sparked Northridge’s return to the Final Four.

“One of our big goals this season was to be a team and just have fun,” Getherall said.

Torgeson said Getherall experienced tough times in the regional and nationals the past two years, “but her focus is totally different (this season).”

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“I can look at her and I know she’s going to make something happen. She’s a different woman out there. She’s . . . on a mission this season.”


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