Opinion: Matadors baseball season a smashing success

Photo+Courtesy+of+CSUN+Athletics.

CSUN Athletics

Photo Courtesy of CSUN Athletics.

Brandon Lopez, Reporter

CSUN baseball (26-19, 14-10 Big West Conference) has been an electric ride, filled with both struggle and triumph as the 2022 season nears its end.

The Matadors wrapped up their series against UC Davis in a dominant three-game series sweep where the Aggies only managed to post one run in each game.

Nine games remain as the season hangs in the balance. With six conference games left against Hawaii and UC San Diego, the Matadors need to finish the season strong just to be in the conversation for NCAA regionals.

CSUN was originally predicted to finish seventh in the Big West in a coach’s preseason poll, but their scrappy play has them sitting comfortably in fourth place. A series win against Hawaii can see the Matadors jump to third.

The Matadors have not finished higher than fourth place since 2002, which would be an impressive feat and a testament to what CSUN coach Dave Serrano and his staff have built within the baseball program.

Serrano has been the head coach of the Matadors since 2019, and under Serrano the Matadors have never had a losing season. They have been trending in the right direction in building a competitive baseball program.

News of Serrano’s retirement at the conclusion of this season is a bittersweet feeling, but he leaves in knowing he gave CSUN his all.

Kai Moody and Brandon Bohning turning a double play on April 8, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Connor Clark)

The Matadors have had an up-and-down season. There is a lot to celebrate, but much left to be desired. The remaining games in the season will dictate how the season will be perceived.

Series losses that ended in sweeps against Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara have stagnated the Matadors’ playoff ambitions.

Nonetheless the team has made history this season. The series win against Long Beach State had not been achieved in over 10 years. A series shutout sweep against UC Riverside had never been accomplished in the Matadors’ 64-year team history in Division I competition.

Andrew Sojka crosses home plate after hitting a home run to give the Matadors a lead over UCSB on April 8, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Connor Clark)

Most recently, the series win against Cal State Fullerton broke a 20-year drought in which the Matadors had not won a three-game series against the Titans, while earning Serrano his 500th career win as a coach in the process.

CSUN baseball’s underdog mentality that they have showcased throughout the season has made them a formidable opponent against teams that used to chalk them up as an easy win. The Matadors’ tough and physical play has gained them the respect they deserve.

The pitching staff’s consistent play provided by Blaine Traxel, Blake Sodersten and Lucas Braun gave the Matadors a fighting chance in many of these games. This was accompanied by strong bats and good baserunning by Kai Moody, Gabe Gonzalez and Bart West, who brought the Matadors much-needed firepower.

The Matadors will lean on each other to finish the season strong with their next-player-up style of play. The remaining nine games will be crucial for how far this team can go.

The season is far from over. Although the Matadors cannot afford a loss from here on out, they are still in control of their fate. A fighting chance is all this team ever needed, as they have proven many times this season that they should not be counted out.

Serrano has laid the foundation of what has the potential of being a winning baseball program, and for that we thank him. Regardless of how it ends, the Matadors’ 2022 season should be viewed as a steppingstone in the right direction and an overall success.