SDSU softball heroics against USD, Campell/Cartier Classic recap

Jessica+Cordola+gets+greeted+by+three+of+her+teammates+at+home+plate+after+hitting+a+three-run+homerun+against+Army.+

Andrew Finley

Jessica Cordola gets greeted by three of her teammates at home plate after hitting a three-run homerun against Army.

by Andrew Finley and Nick Coppo

Versus USD (2/16)

Starting pitcher — senior Maggie Balint — began the night by striking out two of the first three batters she faced against crosstown rivals USD (3-3) on Wednesday night. Her swing-and-miss stuff would translate in the second inning as well. Balint would go on to strike out the side in the second inning, and collect 11 strikeouts in the outing.

Balint would be perfect through the first three frames until she gave up an opposite-field single in the fourth inning. That runner would come around to score after Balint gave up a two-out RBI double to senior Noelle Hee, giving the Toreros a 1-0 lead. Balint would get her final two outs on strikeouts, but the Scarlet and Black had some work to do starting the bottom of the fourth.

The Aztecs got right to work as sophomores Jillian Celis and Jeweliana Perez worked walks, breaking up the no-hitter being pitched by freshman starting pitcher Ashley Daughtry. This knocked Daughtry out of the game and SDSU took full advantage.

Senior Taylor Adams dropped a textbook sacrifice to advance both runners. The next two batters — seniors Alexa Schultz and Daniella Romanello — would hit back-to-back bases-clearing doubles to give the Aztecs a 3-1 lead. 

The conclusion of the game wasn’t without dramatics. USD was threatening to score with two outs in the final inning, having two runners in scoring position. Sophomore Sofia Delgado launched a Balint pitch to deep left-field with a trajectory to land over the fence. The home run that would have given USD the lead was robbed by senior Nicole Siess to save the game, and secure the 3-1 victory for the Aztecs. 

Balint would end up going the distance and take the win against the Toreros after seven innings of one-run ball, allowing three hits, two walks and an earned run while striking out 11.

SDSU mercy rules Army West Point 8-0 in five innings (2/18)

After the heart-wrenching defeat to the CSUN Matadors, this was a get-right game for the Aztecs as they took care of business against the Black Knights on Friday night. Sophomore pitcher Allie Light tossed four innings striking out five batters while only surrendering two hits in the process. The offense broke out of its slump with contributions by senior Nicole Seiss (HR, 2 RBIs), freshman Bella Espinoza (2 H, 2 R) and senior Alexa Schultz ( 2 H, 1 R). The Aztecs plated five runners in the bottom of the second inning and were able to enforce their will upon the Black Knights early. Freshman pitcher Dee Dee Hernandez finished the job in the fifth inning to secure the win for SDSU. Aztec pitching was dominant only allowing two hits all game.

Seiss was a major factor in another Aztec victory and is boasting a .429 on base percentage in nine games played in 2022 compared to a .339 OBP in 42 games in 2021. While it is a small sample size, Seiss is showing how much she has improved from last year on the offensive and defensive ends.

Espinoza has also been impressive and has made an immediate impact in her freshman year. Espinoza is batting .324 and has been a nightmare on the base paths for the opposition snagging six bases on as many attempts. Already a one-time Mountain West Freshman of the Week award winner, Espinoza is providing a great spark for the Aztecs in the early part of the season.

Aztecs win second game versus Army (2/19)

The Aztecs got things going early against Army with some two out magic by senior Jessica Cordola, who launched the first pitch she saw over the right-center field fence to give the Scarlet and Black the early 3-0 lead. 

SDSU would add on in the second inning. A ringing double by senior Alexa Schultz set up a scoring opportunity for senior Nicole Siese. She would deliver with an RBI single that increased their lead to four. 

The Aztecs continued to apply pressure the following inning with a pair of RBI singles by Schultz and senior Danielle Romanello, making it 6-0 SDSU. Schultz would end the game going 2-3 with a double while getting on base three times, driving in a run and making a spectacular diving catch in center-field.

While the Scarlet and Black were getting the job done at the dish, senior Maggie Balint was continuing her dominance on the mound. Her swing-and-miss stuff produced eight strikeouts in four innings — including striking out the side on just 11 pitches in the third inning. 

Balint’s shutout was spoiled in the fourth inning after senior Maddi Gilmore launched a three-run home run onto the left field bleachers, and decreased Army’s deficit to 6-3, and taking Balint out of the game at the end of the inning. 

Freshman Dee Dee Hernandez would come in relief of Balint, and pitched three perfect frames collecting three strikeouts. 

The Aztecs would answer back in the sixth inning. Senior Taylor Adams would send home sophomore Jillian Celis to widen the gap on Army. The Scarlet and Black would hold onto their 8-3 lead til the game was over, and they were victorious. Their next game would come just a half hour after the win against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds.

Scarlet and Black mercy rule Southern Utah in double-header game (2/19)

The Scarlet and Black once again got the party started at the Aztecs Softball Stadium. After a quiet first inning, SDSU erupted in the bottom of the second, with seven of the first eight batters reaching safely. 

The Aztecs would get the scoring started after freshman AJ Murphy laced a double down the first base line to get freshman infielder Bella Espanoza home, and take a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Elianna Reyes would get an RBI single in the next at bat to increase the Aztecs’ lead to 2-0, advancing Murphy to third base. Reyes would steal second base immediately after catching the Thunderbirds not paying attention, giving the Scarlet and Black two runners in scoring position with no outs. 

The table was set for Mac Barbara, who crushed a 2-1 pitch over the center field wall for a three-run dinger that gave SDSU a 5-0 lead in the second inning.

Mac Barbara launched a three-run dinger over the center field fence against Southern Utah (Andrew Finley)

SDSU would find themselves in an advantageous situation once again the following inning. With Murphy and Reyes on second and first, Barbra grounded into a fielder’s choice, advancing both runners up into scoring position with two outs.

Both baserunners would score on a stand-up triple by Celis, and she would score the following at bat after sophomore Kacey Keester hit a comebacker at SUU’s sophomore pitcher Grace Owen, giving SDSU an 8-0 lead. 

Schultz would get Keester home a couple batters later before sophomore Makena Brocki cleared the bases with a double, which gave the Scarlet and Black a six run inning, and an 11-0 lead heading into the fourth inning. 

The long inning meant the end of the day for Aztec starting pitcher, Junior Dani Martinez, who pitched three perfect innings striking out four batters in the process. Sophomore Allie Light would close out the game, pitching two frames, allowing the lone baserunner of the game for the Thunderbirds on a base hit, while also striking out three. 

The game would end in a mercy rule in the fifth inning with SDSU securing the dominant win. 

Balint dazzles again, Aztecs claim Campbell/Cartier Classic over California Baptist (2/20)

Maggie Balint struck out a career high 14 batters in route to defeating Cal Baptist (Andrew Finley)

Senior Maggie Balint is quickly cementing herself as the best pitcher in the Mountain West conference. Her talents were on display again on Sunday as her 14 strikeouts are a career high and tied for fifth most in program history. As good as Balint has been this season this may be her most impressive and dominant performance yet. She allowed only one hit to the Lancers and struck out the side in two separate innings. There is not much finesse about Balint’s pitching style and why would there be when hitters are swinging and missing at this high of rate?. Balint’s 57 strikeouts are the fifth most in D-1 and she has recorded double digit strikeouts in five of her six starts. 

On the offensive side, the Aztecs had to get creative to break a scoreless tie in the fourth inning as freshman Bella Espinoza dashed to second, giving senior Alexa Schultz the opportunity to score easily from third base. After a few more scoreless frames from both teams, SDSU was able to get some insurance by way of a sacrifice fly by senior Danielle Romanello followed by an RBI single by freshman AJ Murphy to make it 3-0 Aztecs. SDSU’s top two batters, Sophomore Mac Barbara and sophomore Jillian Celis, each recorded a hit in the contest as well. This game extended each of their hitting streaks to five games.