On the day Cal State Northridge received its highest NCAA Division I softball ranking, Coach Gary Torgeson decided it was time to shake things up.
Torgeson made a couple of changes in his lineup Tuesday, and the seventh-ranked Matadors responded by sweeping No. 12 Massachusetts, 5-0 and 4-0, in a nonconference doubleheader at Northridge.
The Matadors (14-2), whose highest previous ranking was No. 9 in April of 1992, jumped seven spots from their preseason No. 14 position. Both losses have come to second-ranked UCLA.
But, although victories have kept the Northridge express on track, one player in particular wants to ensure the Matadors don't get derailed.
Vicky Rios, the leadoff batter in Northridge's first 14 games, suggested to Torgeson a couple of weeks ago that she be demoted. Rios, who was batting .222 before Tuesday's games, felt she was struggling at the plate.
"I wasn't feeling comfortable with myself," Rios said. "I was an automatic out. I was seeing myself as that."
So, Torgeson put Rios' suggestion to work, flip-flopping Rios and No. 9 batter Terri Pearson. Both responded favorably, accounting for seven of the Matadors' 16 hits against Massachusetts (1-3).
"On base percentage-wise, Terry was leading a bit--the batting averages weren't much different--but Terry has been getting on and Terry has been hot," Torgeson said.
Pearson struggled in her first three at-bats but settled into her new role in the sixth inning of the first game. Her hard chopper up the middle scored Shannon Jones and Denise Swank and gave Northridge a 5-0 lead.
Pearson, a junior who is working on a five-game hitting streak, doubled and tripled in the second game.
Rios went four for five for the day and raised her average to .280.
"I felt challenged today," said Rios, a junior transfer from Sacramento City College.
Freshman Scia Maumausolo also responded well to her first collegiate start as a catcher. Maumausolo (two for two, two doubles), regularly a designated player, hit a run-scoring double to get the Matadors on the scoreboard in the first game.
Matador right-handers Kathy Blake (6-1) and Jennifer Richardson (2-0), in her third start, each pitched four-hit shutouts.