Softball walks off to complete two-game sweep in doubleheader, Balint notches save and win
February 15, 2020
San Diego State softball played a doubleheader on Friday, Feb. 14 at SDSU Softball Stadium. The Aztecs won their first game 5-4 over Southern Utah and won the second game against Cal State Fullerton by a final score 3-2.
Game 1: Aztecs hold on to defeat Southern Utah
Heading into the top of the fourth inning, the Aztecs held on to what appeared to be a comfortable 5-0 lead.
The Thunderbirds scored four runs in the top of the fourth inning to cut the Aztecs’ lead to 5-4.
SDSU held a one-run lead heading into the seventh and final inning.
That’s when pitcher Maggie Balint came in to save the day.
Despite throwing 145 pitches the night before, she struck out the side to seal the victory for the Aztecs.
“Going out there I just wanted to throw first pitch strikes,” Balint said. “I’ve been struggling with not getting that first strike. And then, I’m having to throw to their game, so really I just wanted to get ahead and throw what I want to throw.”
SDSU started out by dominating the first three innings by jumping to a quick 4-0 lead.
Junior outfielder Alexa Schultz reached second base off a fielding error by Southern Utah junior third baseman Brooke Brown. Then, SDSU junior third baseman Kelsey Munoz advanced to third off the hit, and senior second baseman Shelby Thompson scored the Aztecs’ first run.
Moments later, Aztecs sophomore Jessica Cordola flied out to left field, which allowed Munoz to score via a sacrifice fly.
The Aztecs kept the momentum rolling when freshman Sadie Langlet singled to right center for two RBIs.
Both Cordola and Munoz scored to make the score 4-0.
One of the last moments of the third was Langlet scoring off a throwing error by the catcher.
That pushed the Aztecs’ lead to 5-0.
However, in the top of the fourth inning, Thunderbirds sophomore center fielder Makall Whetten hit a three-run home run to highlight a four-run inning by the visiting team.
Despite the close call, the Aztecs were able to pull away with a 5-4 lead.
Balint is confident in her team’s ability to remain calm in potential game-changing moments.
“During preseason, you always find out what kind of team you are,” Balint said. “I think we’re one of those teams where you cannot count us out until the end.”
Game 2: SDSU defeats Cal State Fullerton in walk-off fashion
The first four innings had little action as both pitchers were striking batters out to keep the score at 0-0. After seven innings, the score was tied at 1-1.
It sure was the opposite of that at the end of the game in an extra eighth inning when Aztecs freshman second baseman Jillian Celis stepped up to bat. (Due to preseason tournament rules in an effort to speed games up, extra innings start off with each hitting team having a runner on second base.)
With junior third baseman Kelsey Munoz on third base in the eighth inning, Celis knew she had the opportunity right in front of her to win the game.
She singled to left field to score Munoz, giving SDSU the 3-2 victory.
“Honestly, I was just telling myself to breathe and just keep the engine going,” Celis said. “I took a really big swing and coach kind of told me just to shorten it and that’s exactly what I did.”
The walk-off wasn’t the only big moment for Celis.
She also kept the Aztecs in the game with a game-tying single in the bottom of the sixth inning – similar to the one that won the game.
Munoz was on third base with Celis up to bat. Celis hit center right which allowed Munoz to score to tie the game 1-1. That run forced extra innings.
“It was really special for me just because I know we’ve been working all year for this,” Celis said. “Now that season is here, I am glad we were all able to do it together as a team and get the win.”
The Aztecs showed the type of team they are even in adversity being down by a run.
“We came from behind, held on tight and it was a great team win,” said associate head coach Stacey Nuveman Deniz. “We got great pitching, timely hitting, great defensive play, I mean it was just a good softball game that’s unfortunate someone had to lose because it was well played on both sides.”
The Aztecs will continue to play in the Campbell/Cartier Classic with another doubleheader Saturday against BYU and Southern Utah.
Nuveman Deniz hopes her team will remember this moment and always remain positive.
“The game will pay you back,” Nuveman Deniz said. “If you stay positive and you keep your wits about and you don’t get too down, there will always be another chance to be the hero.”