It was a strange way to begin such an important doubleheader, but the eight starting seniors on the Cal State Northridge softball team simply couldn't help themselves.
Tears of sadness flowed among the seniors, who were introduced individually over the public-address system and given a rose and a hug by Coach Gary Torgeson before the start of Northridge's key Western Athletic Conference doubleheader against Cal State Sacramento on Saturday.
The sadness of watching their college careers wind down--and knowing that it could be the last time they play at Matador Diamond--was too much for the teary-eyed seniors, who helped build Northridge into a NCAA Division I power.
Sophomore Scia Maumausolo, who wiped away tears after hugging each of the honored seniors in pregame ceremonies, paid homage to the group by swatting two three-run home runs to help the Matadors sweep Sacramento, 3-1 and 10-0 in five innings, as Northridge (46-7, 21-3 in WAC play) ended the regular season by winning its second consecutive WAC title. The Matadors finished percentage points ahead of Utah (22-4) and one game ahead of Fresno State (21-5).
"How could you write a better script?" Torgeson said shortly after Tamara Ivie dumped the contents of the team water cooler on him. "I'm excited for these guys. They've gone through a lot and they've been able to focus under all conditions."
For Maumausolo, who has hit home runs in three consecutive games, her viewfinder is focused on the new bat she received Thursday from a bat company representative. All 26 ounces of it. "It's two ounces lighter (than the bat I've been using)," Maumausolo said.
Maumausolo hit her first home run down the left-field line in the first inning of the opener with Jen Fleming and Tamara Ivie on base via walks. It was the second homer in as many at-bats for Maumausolo, who hit a solo homer against sixth-ranked Fresno State on Friday in her final plate appearance.
"(Friday's home run) felt good," she said. "Today they were kinda pop flies. You could say they were cheap. I want to be able to earn it on my own."
The Matadors sat on the 3-0 lead, getting only four hits--including two by Vicky Rios--over the next five innings.
Sacramento's Kim Meyer hit a solo homer off ace Amy Windmiller in the fourth inning. Windmiller (22-2), who entered the game with the lowest earned-run average (0.26) in the country, pitched a four-hitter and struck out three.
The third-ranked Matadors, who will find out today if they will play host to one of eight regional tournaments, picked up the pace against Sacramento (25-30-1, 11-15-1) in the second game.
The Matadors pounded 14 hits and put an early end to the game when Terri Pearson scored their 10th run with one out in the fifth. There is a 10-run mercy rule in the WAC.
Beth Calcante, who went three for four in the second game, drove in Pearson for the Matadors' first run with a double.. Northridge scored two more in the inning on Maumausolo's fielder's choice and a single by Shannon Jones.
Maumausolo, who finished with seven runs batted in, hit her sixth home run of the season in the third with Calcante and Ivie aboard to give Northridge a 6-0 lead.
The Matadors added three runs in the fourth on five hits.
Those pregame tears were replaced with smiles by day's end. But with only the postseason left to play, there are sure to be more wet eyes in the coming weeks.
"The last four nights I've been going to bed just bawling," Calcante said. "I didn't think I had any tears left."