CSUN softball stifled by San Diego’s pitching in non-conference matchup

CSUN’s softball infielder, Mia Cortez, 10, runs toward first base during their game against the USD Toreros on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, in Northridge.

Maxwell Clark, Staff Reporter

CSUN softball dropped its non-conference matchup against the University of San Diego last Wednesday, unable to adjust to the tough Torero pitching.

The Toreros (19-23-1, 4-2 West Coast Conference) soundly defeated the Matadors (17-20, 8-7 Big West Conference), 4-0, thanks to a shutout performance by USD freshman Emma Giaime, who pitched all seven innings for the Toreros.

CSUN was unable to capitalize on any of their base hits against Giaime. In the first and fourth innings, the Matadors had runners on first and second, but ultimately left them all stranded.

Giaime allowed three hits and two walks in the game, while forcing three strikeouts and a total of 18 flyouts and groundouts. CSUN head coach Charlotte Morgan emphasized that the team’s inability to adjust to the freshman’s pitching was what hurt them the most in the game.

“Obviously we needed to make an adjustment on the down ball,” Morgan said. “I mean she was throwing a drop and we basically hit to the first and third basemen all game. Our solid hits were when we stayed inside and went the opposite direction, so I think if we know what she is doing, we have to be ready to offensively make those adjustments.”

Giaime was not the only pitcher who had a great game. Alexis Martinez was locked in a pitching duel with USD’s hurler, but predetermined pitching changes saw Martinez, who kept the Toreros off the board, relieved at the top of the fifth inning.

“We play conference games and then in the mid-weeks we already predetermined who we wanted to get some innings,” Morgan said. “I thought Martinez did a really good job. She did what she needed to do. We needed to get [Isabella Alonso] in there to get her job done too, so it was already predetermined.”

Freshman Isabella Alonso relieved Martinez of her duties later in the game, and allowed four runs in three innings. To lead off the fifth, Alonso walked Torero’s Joecellia Roberts. After a pair of outs, USD’s right-handed hitter Amanda Limon hit a single to opposite field, pushing Roberts to second. This is where things began to go wrong for the Matadors.

Toreros leadoff hitter Izzy Owen came in and hit a ground ball that went flying off the first base bag into right field, bringing in what would ultimately be the winning run. Toreros stood on first and third with Mikalyn Emanuelli stepping up to bat. Emanuelli smacked the ball and watched it go through the glove of a leaping Vinessa Nunez, bringing in Limon to put USD up by two.

A flyball to right center field almost dropped for the Toreros, but a running catch by Kaylee Escutia ended the inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Alexa Landeros tripled and gave the Matadors hope that they could come back from the two-point deficit. A ground ball to third from Jordan Kaeka almost brought Landeros home, but a falling catch from the first baseman on an off-target throw from third sent Kaeka packing.

USD was able to score two more runs in the top of the seventh. CSUN was unable to get any offense going in the bottom of the seventh, as Giaime secured a 1-2-3 inning to end the game.

CSUN has struggled lately, losing four of its last five games prior to Wednesday’s match. The team only has 10 games left, with nine being Big West matches. Coach Morgan explained that consistency on both ends of the ball can help the team go a long way.

“Our season’s a long season, and we have to be able to weather it,” Morgan said. “We’ve got to bring consistent energy for us. Our defense is good here and there. Our pitching is good here and there, and our offense is the same thing. It’s all in our hands.”

The team’s youthfulness was also a point of emphasis for Morgan when she explained how the team has struggled, but she said she is confident they will learn a lot from this season.

CSUN softball is a young team, with 22 of the 27 players being underclassmen.

The Matadors bounced back this weekend when they traveled to UC Riverside for a three-game series, leaving with two victories. This Tuesday CSUN has a date against the UCLA Bruins, who are ranked second in the nation, for a game that could prove pivotal if the Matadors pull off the upset.