Matadors softball bounce back after two losses, earn win in series finale against Aggies

CSUN softball’s outfielder Alexa Landeros, 4, watches as a high pitch goes by the plate during their game against UC Davis on Friday, April 14, 2023, in Northridge, Calif.

Maxwell Clark, Staff Reporter

CSUN softball finished with one win in its three-game series against UC Davis over the weekend, adjusting their aggressiveness and discipline against Aggies’ pitcher Kenedi Brown to escape with the victory in the series finale.

The series was played on “Cancer Awareness Weekend,” with coaches sporting t-shirts with ribbons on them.

The Matadors (17-19, 8-7 Big West Conference) dropped their doubleheader against the Aggies (24-13, 10-5 Big West Conference) Friday, combining for only seven hits throughout the two games. Those defeats pushed their losing streak to four, but they snapped it the next day when their batters produced nearly twice as many hits as they did in the doubleheader. CSUN sits at sixth in the Big West standings, one game behind the University of Hawaii.

Head coach Charlotte Morgan emphasized that her team needs to be able to adjust in order for them to win these tough conference matchups.

“[UC Davis] played the simple game. They did what you have to do and we didn’t do that,” Morgan said. “I told the team it has nothing to do with our talent. It’s just about us making those adjustments, us being locked in understanding that every run counts and every at-bat matters.”

The first game was brutal for Northridge. Brown recorded 11 strikeouts for the Aggies, allowing only one hit and three walks in the match. On the defensive end, Matadors freshman pitcher Lauryn Carranco struggled throughout the game, giving up seven hits and throwing a wild pitch. The loss moved Carranco’s record to 3-5, while the shutout performance from Brown led to her 13th win of the season. Both pitchers played the entirety of the match.

The Aggies took game one, 3-0.

In the second game of the back-to-back, the Matadors were able to get more offense going as they recorded six hits. The Aggies got on the board first with an RBI groundout and single in the first two innings. CSUN responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the second, when sophomore infielder Alexis Garcia singled to left center to drive in right fielder Kaylee Escutia.

UC Davis’ final run came in from a sacrifice fly that allowed left fielder Sarah Nakahara to cross. The Matadors struck out three times throughout the match. Friday’s second game ended with another Aggies win, 3-1.

In the final matchup of the series, CSUN came out firing on all cylinders. Northridge scored four runs in the bottom of the first against Brown, who had a stellar match two games prior. Brown only pitched in the first inning and faced six batters, allowing five hits and four runs, all within 14 pitches.

In the bottom of the second inning, the Matadors elevated their lead to five with a solo moonshot by redshirt junior Shaylan Whatman. However, the Aggies refused to give up, scoring two runs apiece in the third and fourth innings to cut their deficit to one. In those two frames, the Matadors made a pair of pitching changes, bringing Allie Gardiner out to close the final three-and-a-half innings.

“Allie did a really good job coming in and sustaining it even when we weren’t clean on defense,” Morgan said.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, an RBI triple by outfielder Mikayla Carman brought in another run. During the next at-bat, a wild pitch by Aggies’ hurler Sarah Reineman gave Carman a path to score, which put the Matadors up three runs going into the final inning.

UC Davis scored again off a single from junior infielder Sarah Starks. Nakahara and Starks stood on the corners as the leading runner stepped up to the plate. With one out in the frame, the Aggies were hoping for a big play to send this game to extra innings. Senior Delaney Diaz grounded into a double play on the second pitch, ending the game as the Matadors grabbed the win, 7-5.

“Anytime you can end up taking a win at the end of the series is huge,” Morgan said. “Davis, they’re going to fight, it’s not going to be easy and they fought until the end.”

Morgan explained that her team’s adjustments from the day prior were vital because the Matadors were not able to shift that quickly in weeks prior.

The Matadors were able to avoid a three-game series sweep against the Aggies. Now, they look to build on the win as they face San Diego on Wednesday in Northridge.