The Cal State Northridge softball team couldn't find a worse way to start its first game of the Fullerton tournament Wednesday when it allowed 22nd-ranked Texas A&M; to bat around and score three runs in the first inning.
But the No. 6 Matadors batted around in the seventh and found an unlikely hero to lead them to a 7-3 victory: freshman first baseman Chelo Lopez.
Lopez, a right-handed batter, hit Erin Field's 1-0 pitch over the right-field fence for a three-run home run with one out in the seventh and the Aggies leading, 3-2. Northridge (20-7) scored two additional runs on a run-scoring bloop single by Kelly Toovey and a run-scoring double by Lee Ann Taylor off the center field fence.
"The pitch looked like a fatty, and I let go," said Lopez of her third homer of the season, which landed about 10 feet inside the foul pole. "I felt like so much pressure was taken off my shoulders. I heard everybody yelling. I hit it right on the meat of the bat."
Lopez, who bats cleanup, had been struggling with runners in scoring position. In last Friday's doubleheader split with Utah, Lopez came to bat six times with runners on. She went hitless, stranding 12.
"Coming off last weekend, that was huge," Northridge Coach Janet Sherman said. "Huge for us as a team and huge for her, personally."
Lopez's homer, one of 11 hits for Northridge--left fielder Jennifer Parker was three for four--allowed pitcher Kathy Blake-Small (9-3) to earn the victory in relief.
Texas A&M; fell to 14-12 and Field fell to 5-5.