While the lack of a consistent short game continues to unnerve Cal State Northridge softball Coach Gary Torgeson, the Matadors seem to get along just fine with the long ball.
Shannon Jones and Scia Maumausolo each contributed home runs to the Matadors' hit parade to fuel an 8-0 victory over Maine in five innings Friday in a first-round game of an NCAA Division I regional.
Maumausolo's two-run home run, which carried about 60 feet beyond the left-field fence 200 feet away, ended the game with one out in the fifth inning because of an eight-run mercy rule.
No Matador hitter is hotter than Maumausolo, a sophomore who has hit a home run in each of the last four games to raise her season total to seven. This home run, however, should be forever distinguished in Matador history.
"That's probably the longest one I've hit," Maumausolo said.
Not to mention anyone else at Northridge.
Third-ranked Northridge (47-7) will face Cal State Fullerton (33-27) today at 10 a.m. in the double-elimination tournament. Fullerton upset No. 10 Washington, 2-1, in an earlier first-round game Friday. Washington committed four errors and stranded 11 baserunners.
The loser of the Northridge-Fullerton game will play the winner of the Washington-Maine game at 3 p.m. today. The championship game is Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
Northridge wasted little time against unranked Maine, scoring in the first on a run-scoring double by Jen Fleming. Terri Pearson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Fleming was given the bunt signal, but like many of her teammates lately, had trouble delivering.
After fouling off two bunt attempts, however, teammate Vicky Rios instructed Fleming to take a look at the pinched-in Maine outfielders.
"I looked at the outfield and the outfield is near the (infield) dirt and I'm like, 'What the hell are they doing?' " Fleming said. "I just punched it through the gap."
But Torgeson raised a few eyebrows when the next batter, Northridge's home-run record-holder Beth Calcante, was given the bunt signal when Fleming was already in scoring position at second.
"I'm stubborn right now," Torgeson said. "I want the ball to be down. I want people in scoring position. You got Tamara (Ivie), Scia and (Shannon) Jones who are hitting the ball right now to hit them in.
"We gotta figure it out and they know that. I'm gonna continue with my game plan."
Calcante, who bats third and leads the team with 21 sacrifice bunts, delivered, but two batters later Maumausolo hit into a double play to end the threat.
The Matadors were quiet until the fourth. Ivie and Maumausolo started the inning with singles. Jones, after fouling off two pitches, ripped a home run to left-center to give Northridge a 4-0 lead. It was Jones' 12th home run of the season, tying Calcante's school record, set last season.
After a fly out by Jennifer Parker, Lee Ann Taylor walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Vicky Rios. Taylor later scored on a throwing error and Pearson, who reached base on the error, scored on a run-scoring single by Fleming to give the Matadors a 6-0 lead.
Junior Kathy Blake (16-5) pitched a two-hitter, struck out two and notched her 12th shutout.