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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Matadors softball swept by Cal Poly in first Big West series

Edward Segal
Left fielder Mikayla Carman triples in the fifth inning of game two to bring third baseman Shaylan Whatman home and put the tying run in scoring position. The game took place at Matador Diamond on Saturday, March 16, in Northridge, Calif.

CSUN gave up only eight runs in three games against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Most of the time, this would suggest the Matadors won the series, taking at least two games.

But they were swept.

With the sun shining down on this warm March weekend, CSUN softball (16-10, 0-3 Big West) started its conference slate against Cal Poly (13-9, 3-0 Big West), hosting the Mustangs for three games in two days.

Though the scores did not reflect it, the games felt like blowouts in favor of Cal Poly.

“The great thing is, we had a chance to win every game,” head coach Charlotte Morgan said of the Matadors’ performance. “We were in every game, but at the end of the day, we gotta compete better, and be able to get some runs scored.”

The Matadors entered the series on a three-game losing streak. They had a week off since their games against Rutgers University and University of Nevada in the Fresno State Bulldog Classic.

When they entered the doubleheader Saturday, the Matadors were slow out of the gate. It took them until the fifth inning to get a hit. With Jessica Clements and Xiara Diaz leading the push, Cal Poly wasted no time getting going.

Clements reached on her first at-bat. She was tagged out when Diaz singled into center field, but a stolen base and double brought the latter in. Two innings later, a similar sequence allowed Clements to score on a sacrifice fly, and in the fifth, the junior center fielder tripled before Diaz brought her in with a single.

Right fielder Kaylee Escutia steps up to bat in the fifth inning of game two, while left fielder Mikayla Carman stands on third base. Pitcher Kate Judy, who had just come in to relieve Paige Maier for the Mustangs, threw a wild pitch, allowing Carman to come home and tie the score. The game took place at Matador Diamond on Saturday, March 16, in Northridge, Calif. (Edward Segal)

CSUN finally found some momentum in the bottom of the fifth when Lulu Sanchez hit her first-ever home run to cut the lead to one, bringing in a runner who reached on an error. Unfortunately for them, no one else was able to cross home.


The Matadors singled once in the sixth but couldn’t build on it, and got two runners on thanks to another hit by Sanchez in the seventh, but came up empty to fall 3-2.

The Mustangs came out flying in game two. Five hits and three Matadors’ errors in the first three innings gave them all the momentum. CSUN pitcher Isabella Alonso stranded all four runners who reached in the first two innings, but the Matadors’ mistakes caught up to them in the third.

Alonso, a sophomore from Cypress, California, says she gets through tough innings like those by hoping the rest of her team will come through if she does.

“I believe that they’re going to get the next one, even after a mistake,” Alonso said. “It doesn’t matter, I know they have my back.”

With the bases loaded at the top of the third, a fielder’s choice brought in one Mustang, and an erroneous throw by third baseman Shaylan Whatman allowed a second player to cross home.

Whatman made up for her mistake in the fifth when she doubled to get on base. Left fielder Mikayla Carman brought her in with a triple to make it 2-1. The Mustangs brought in a new pitcher, who threw a wild pitch, allowing Carman to score.

Just when it seemed CSUN might even the series, Diaz came through once again, hitting a single in the seventh before coming home when the next two hitters grounded out and singled.

CSUN had Whatman and Carman up again in the seventh, but both struck out looking as the Matadors lost the series.

But they still had another game to play.

When Sunday hit and the third game rolled around, the Matadors knew they had already lost the series, and came into the final match with a new wave of energy. Morgan says they were able to control game three better than the first two.

“We sped up the game too much yesterday,” Morgan said. “I think we were able to slow it down and really just play the game like we know.”

Sunday was alumni day, and many of CSUN’s softball players in the program’s 47-year history were honored. An LAPD helicopter circled overhead, putting fans on edge until the person inside cheered for CSUN softball through the aircraft’s loudspeaker.

The Matadors cheer from the dugout as left fielder Mikayla Carman crosses home plate off a wild pitch to tie the second game at two. The game took place at Matador Diamond on Saturday, March 16, in Northridge, Calif. (Edward Segal)

In the first two innings of the game, the first hitter for the Mustangs reached, but both times, CSUN forced groundouts to leave the runners stranded.

In the bottom of the second, the Matadors looked ready to strike as a two-out rally placed runners on first and second. When the Mustangs struck out CSUN’s next hitter, the momentum flipped and the game started to go much the same way as the first two.

Cal Poly scored on a sacrifice fly in the third, held the Matadors to no hits in the next two innings, and took a 1-0 lead to the bottom of the fifth. Another two-out rally allowed CSUN to load the bases off a hit-by-pitch, single and walk. But another strikeout stopped the Matadors in their tracks.

The Mustangs went on their own two-out rally in the seventh, loading the bases off a single, walk, and hit-by-pitch. Another walk allowed a runner to come home and double Cal Poly’s lead.

The Matadors had one final chance to try and win the game, and when the Mustangs threw a bad pass to first and allowed CSUN’s first hitter to reach, it seemed like they might do it. After a walk and a single, the Matadors loaded the bases with only one out. Kaylee Escutia then struck out, and on the next at-bat, a hit to third allowed the Mustangs to secure a force out for the win.

“To be great, you gotta fail a lot,” Morgan said. “Obviously, we’re getting battle-tested early. The conference won’t be won in a weekend, and I think we just gotta learn from this.”

CSUN’s bats were not aggressive enough in the series, striking out 22 times, and finding themselves out because of called strikes on several occasions. Mustang pitcher Sophia Ramuno played in every match, though she only played two-thirds of an inning the second game, and struck out 20 Matadors while giving up only eight hits.

The Matadors’ top three hitters, Whatman, Carman and Escutia, batted a combined 3-26 across all three games and struck out in half their at-bats.

“At the end of the day, we have to compete,” Morgan said. “We have to have better quality at-bats.”

In stark contrast, Cal Poly’s top hitter, Clements, hit 7-11 and scored two runs in the series.

The five fielding errors on Saturday hurt the Matadors as well, but they improved on Sunday and didn’t commit any in game three.

The Matadors are left with lots to work on, but their 16-4 start to the season proved they can put it together. As they prepare for their series at University of Hawaii (8-16, 1-2 Big West) starting Friday, they’ll need to find their rhythm again if they want to end their skid.


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