The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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New culture, new era, renewed expectations for CSUN softball

Matadors pitcher Lauryn Carranco, 15, taking the mound against the OSU Cowgirls at the Matador Diamond in Northridge, Calif., on Feb. 8, 2024.

After finishing 28-24 and reaching the National Invitational Softball Championship in 2023, CSUN softball head coach Charlotte Morgan feels her program is ready to turn a corner.

The Matadors were picked in the preseason coaches poll at third in the Big West. Morgan says her team pays no mind to any poll, but is excited about the expectations her program has set.

“Our standards are higher than any preseason poll or anything that comes out,” she said.

“We told our girls it is a great accomplishment, it’s been since 2018 since we were last picked as high as third, but it’s only a piece of paper.”

With the way the Matadors have been playing to start the season, it looks like the program is ready for the next step.

The Matadors have raked in nine wins in a row including a three-game sweep over 2023 WAC champions Utah Tech University and a win over Power 5 opponent University of Maryland. The Terrapins beat the Matadors in the 2023 postseason during the NISC.

Lauryn Carranco and Isabella Alonso return after leading the Matadors in the circle last year. Any chance of the Matadors winning the Big West will start and end with the performances of Carranco and Alonso in the circle.

“Both girls took last year’s last two games personally,” Morgan said in reference to the Matadors’ NISC appearance where they lost both games, 8-0 to Maryland and 13-5 to San Jose State. “They have been on a vengeance in the summer and fall,” she added.

Carranco, who was the 2023 Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year, has been dominant to start the year. She’s sporting a 2.40 ERA, along with a 6-2 record. Her only losses coming against Power 5 opponents #9-ranked Oklahoma State University in the season opener and her latest coming on Feb. 24 against Rutgers University in extras. Carranco threw for 8.2 innings in the loss to the Scarlet Knights.

After leading the Matadors in innings pitched with 102.2, there is an expectation that Alonso will be the bulldog of the staff. She’s been a solid number-two pitcher for CSUN, as her role has varied from starting games to coming out of the bullpen. Scattering three starts in her six appearances, Alonso came in from the bullpen against Maryland, throwing for 3.2 innings and only allowed three hits as she shut the door against the Terrapins.

During the 2023 season, Morgan gave the two freshman pitchers opportunities to grow and learn. And now the Matadors are reaping the benefits of it.

A wildcard for the Matadors is going to be freshman Alexa Ortiz. Ortiz, who slots in to be the team’s third pitcher, has shown flashes of potential. In her six appearances so far, she has a 1-0 record and thrown for 11.2 innings along with 3 starts. Another versatile tool for Morgan, if Ortiz can provide solid innings, whether that be coming from starts or coming out of the bullpen will be a key factor for the Matadors moving forward.

CSUN has raced off to a hot start, but it will be crucial for Morgan’s team to stay dialed in. The Matadors finished third in the Big West last year thanks to a nine-game win streak to end the season, but Morgan says she wants to get off to the best start possible before Big West play opens up.

“We got to do everything we can to get as mature and as experienced as we can going into conference play, because we returned a bit, but also have a lot of new pieces,” she said.

With the Big West conference opener against Cal Poly less than three weeks away, the Matadors will have plenty of time to figure things out before conference play starts.

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