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Matadors flex muscle: CSUN halts softball team’s momentum

A conference championship is all but out of The Beach’s reach after another home loss.

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Matadors flex muscle: CSUN halts softball team’s momentum

Junior outfielder Darian Tautalafua singles in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Junior outfielder Darian Tautalafua singles in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Bobby Yagake

Junior outfielder Darian Tautalafua singles in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Bobby Yagake

Bobby Yagake

Junior outfielder Darian Tautalafua singles in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Josh Barajas, Staff Writer

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A weekend series loss to Cal State Northridge at the 49er Softball Complex snapped the Long Beach State softball team’s four game-winning streak.

CSUN (39-11, 14-1) opened up a five-game lead over the second place 49ers (22-24, 9-6) with just six games remaining in the season.

“LBSU is a great team,” CSUN’s head coach Tairia Flowers said. “We knew we were going to have to come in and play good softball in order to pick up some wins.”

The Matadors got off to a fast start in game one when freshman infielder Savannah Horvath hit an RBI double in the first inning to give CSUN a 1-0 lead. Sophomores Katie Hooper and Taylor Glover each had two RBI in the second inning to open up a 5-0 lead that LBSU never recovered from.

The Matadors’ trio of top hitters did the most damage. Glover, Hooper and Horvath reached base safely 10 out of 12 times and drove in six runs. CSUN right-hander Brianna Elder had seven strikeouts in a complete game in the 6-2 win.

“We let [CSUN’s] momentum affect us,” LBSU head coach Kim Sowder said. “It took us a little while to shake that off.”

The 49ers’ offense struggled until the fourth inning of game two. With the bases loaded, senior centerfielder Leilani Tupua-Tautalatasi hit a three RBI double that tied the game at three.

The Matadors regained the lead in the top of the seventh, but LBSU responded in the bottom half. Sophomore catcher Lauren Lombardi led off with her third home run in four games to tie the game at four.

Later in the inning, with runners on second and third, freshman outfielder Hannah Cookson got her fourth hit of the day to give LBSU a 5-4 win.

“[Game two] was kind of a do-or-die for us,” Sowder said. “We’re quite a ways back [from first place], we need to find a way to salvage and get two out of three to win the series.”

The final game of the series was a close one throughout. After trading runs in the first inning, the 49ers and Matadors were locked in a pitcher’s duel between right-handers Elder and Christina Clermont.

The game was scoreless until the fifth when Clermont gave up a sacrifice fly that put the Matadors up 2-1. CSUN scored again in the sixth with another sacrifice fly that made it 3-1.

The 49ers failed to answer as Elder closed LBSU out for her second complete game of the series. Flowers praised her team’s effort in the series win, but said it must remain focused to close out the season as champions.

“It’s nice seeing the success that we’ve had, but we still have two very good teams that have played well throughout the season,” Flowers said. “So you never know what’s going to happen, and we’ve got to bring our A-game, you can’t get comfortable.”

LBSU will visit Cal Poly on Saturday for a three-game series at San Luis Obispo.

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