Oregon State has relied heavily on senior pitcher Amanda Najdek in the circle in recent games

The Oregon State softball team came back from California undefeated in the Long Beach State Invite -- albeit with only one game played due to the weather.

Five games were postponed because of rain, though the matchup with UC Santa Barbara has already been rescheduled for April 2.

The Beavers defeated Cal State Fullerton, 5-2, in their first and only game of the tournament.

"It was a great win against a great team," said head coach Laura Berg. "They beat (No. 13) Oklahoma, and for us to come out and play well the way we did is fantastic."

The next five contests were canceled, including a matchup with No. 4 Michigan.

"It was disappointing but I'm proud of my teammate for getting out and doing her job against Cal State Fullerton," added junior pitcher Melanie Dembinski.

The teammate she is referring to is senior pitcher Amanda Najdek, who recorded a complete game against CSF, allowing only five hits.

"It felt great -- just hitting my spots, making the ball break and getting my team ground balls," Najdek said.

Inducing ground balls has been Najdek's method of success this year, getting 87 outs on grounders compared to 30 from fly outs.

Najdek faced the Titans in her Oregon State debut last year, recording a season-high three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings of relief work.

In that game she replaced Tina Andreana, who has since graduated along with fellow pitcher Marina Demore.

Najdek has replaced Andreana and Demore by being able to fill either role of a starting or relief pitcher, a transition Berg needed from Najdek.

"She has done a great job accepting any role we throw at her," Berg said. "She could be a starter, she could be a reliever, she could be someone that we need to get out of a big inning."

Against CSF last week, Najdek's 11 strikeouts were the most by a Beaver pitcher in one game since Andreana matched that mark in 2011.

With the complete game, Najdek has now pitched 27 of the last 29 innings for Oregon State while tossing 528 pitches in that span.

"I could see Amanda doing that all season long," Berg said. "With the experience she has -- this is her fourth year in college ball -- she knows what Division I is about and has experienced postseason play."

Helping Najdek and the rest of the pitching staff along the way has been freshman catcher Kylie Padilla.

Padilla is one of five OSU players who currently has a .300 batting average or better -- Padilla is sitting right on the .300 benchmark -- but when asked if Padilla's offensive or defensive production is more important, Berg simply says, "both."

"She's a mainstay; she's a leader behind that plate," Berg said. "She does a very good job of handling these pitchers and controlling the field. That's a great compliment to a kid who's a freshman."

The teamwork between Padilla and the pitching staff will be key in the UCLA Tourney, which gets underway Friday for OSU, with games against Charleston Southern and Georgetown -- both teams that OSU has never faced before in school history.

Josh Worden, sports reporter

On Twitter @WordenJosh


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