PALM SPRINGS, Calif. --- The Cal State Northridge softball (1-3) team defeated Utah State, 5-2, Saturday afternoon to split its second day at the Cathedral City Kickoff at the Big League Dreams Sports Park. Senior Mercedes Lovato tied a career high with eight strikeouts while sophomore Alexandria Alvarado went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, an RBI and two stolen bases against Utah State.
Lovato, who came in for starter senior Samantha Schroeder, tossed four innings of one-hit ball. She fanned two batters each in all four innings of work to get her first victory of the season (1-2).
The Matadors jumped on the Aggies early, scoring in the first inning. Freshman Tracy Allen singled to leadoff the game, moved to second on a sac bunt by junior Micah Putnam and scored on a single to right field from junior Amanda Peek.
Northridge added to its lead in the top of the second, scoring a pair of runs. Alvarado doubled to right center to start the inning, stole third and scored on a throwing error by the Utah State catchers. Two batters later, Allen cranked her first career home run, a towering shot down the left field line to make it 3-0.
Utah State responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second to close the gap to 3-2, but CSUN responded in the sixth inning, again sparked by Alvarado. Junior Sara Kahn-Shamout singled to left, moved to second on a sac bunt by sophomore Jaclyn Rymer and scored on a double by Alvarado into the left-center gap. Sophomore Christina Saenz then knocked Alvarado in with a pinch-hit RBI single to left field.
In the first game for CSUN on Saturday, the Matadors fell, 3-0, to No. 2 Texas A&M. The Aggies hit solo home runs in the sixth and seventh inning to increase their lead.
Lovato started the game for Northridge, going six innings while striking out two and scattering six hits. Sophomore Amanda Pitzenberger saw her first action in the circle, tossing the seventh and striking out one.
Kahn-Shamout and Peek collected the only hits for CSUN off Texas A&M pitching. The Aggies’ Megan Gibson tossed a complete game shutout and struck out four Matadors.
The Matadors close out the tournament with a game against Oregon, slated for an 11:30 a.m. start. Northridge then heads to Las Vegas, Nev, next weekend to play in the UNLV Louisville Slugger Desert Classic. Northridge will face No. 5 Oklahoma, Seton Hall, South Carolina, UNLV and San Jose State in the tournament.