SDSU Softball Drops Home-Opener

Maggie Balint pitches a softball

In San Diego State’s softball home-opener, the Aztecs were defeated 3-0 by BYU at the SDSU softball field on Thursday night despite a strong pitching performance.

Tonight also marked the beginning of the Campbell/Cartier Classic, an annual event held in the memory of former Aztec softball players Susanne Campbell and Karin Cartier.

It was a scoreless game with strong pitching on both sides, with the first score and hit coming at the top of the fifth inning.

“It was a good-old fashioned pitchers duel,”  head coach Kathy Van Wyk said, “I think we wasted a very good pitching performance.”

The Cougars’ catcher, Ry Jense-McFarland, singled to left field, which brought home Kaylee Erickson and gave BYU the lead. In the top of the seventh inning, Jensen-McFarland shot a solo homerun to deep right.

Later in the inning, Arissa Paulsen who plays first base and pitches for BYU, singled into left and brought in Taylei Williams. 

The Cougars managed four hits off of SDSU’s junior pitcher Maggie Balint. 

Balint pitched into the seventh inning and tonight marked her first home game as an Aztec, as she transferred from Oregon. 

“At Oregon I wasn’t a starter. I wasn’t a captain and I didn’t have the responsibilities. I kind of just showed up and left. I have to be accountable for my other players.”

Maggie Balint, junior pitcher.

She tallied nine strikeouts and threw 145 pitches before being relieved by freshman Karina Faasisila.

Balint calls her own pitches, which helps her game because she enjoys fast-paced outings.

“Me and the catcher [Alizae Umi, SDSU’s catcher] we’re both on the same page.” Balint said, “I work at a very fast paced, I’m like a machine I’m constantly going, going, going and I don’t like to be stopped.”

The Oregon-transfer and Van Wyk made it clear, Balint throws what she wants when she wants.

“[Balint] knows what she wants to throw in there.” Van Wyk said, “I don’t have to call pitches. She’s very strong minded, she’s got a great level of confidence.”

Balint credited her back injury for her drive and confidence on the mound.

“I am so driven and motivated since my back injury.” She said, “I could not throw the ball past 60, but mentally I was so sharp and I could just not physically do it. It made me so frustrated because mentally I was ready to go.”

SDSU will have to move on from this one, as they have two straight double-headers coming up.

On Friday, the Aztecs play against Southern Utah and Cal State Fullerton.

When Saturday rolls around, SDSU will play BYU and Southern Utah again.

The four games will all be played at the SDSU softball field.

Van Wyk’s message to her team after the loss: forget this one and move on.

“We got two double-headers coming up.” she said, “We’re going to play BYU again later this weekend. We have to do a better job adjusting at the plate, we were swinging at bad pitches.”

Umi said the team’s preparation from the off-season will help them survive the back to back double-headers.

“We put in a lot of work in the fall, so we’re just depending on that.” she said, “That’s really going to help us in the double-header tomorrow.”

Written by: Daniel Farr

Aztecs Clinch Mountain West

The buzzer sounded and fans roared, as the No. 4 team in the nation clinched their 12th Mountain West championship against New Mexico on Tuesday night. The Aztecs beat the Lobos 82-59. 

Moments later, each SDSU player and coach cut a piece of the nylon net to celebrate being crowned champions once again. Even SDSU’s president, Adela de la Torre got in on the action and cut a piece of the net.

The Aztecs ended the first half up by only two and shot a poor 39% from the field. However, the second half was a different story. SDSU shot 51% from the field in the second half and 37.5% from downtown.

Coincidently, the Aztecs defense came alive in the second half as well. They were able to contain a deadly offense to 26.5% shooting in the latter half. 

SDSU also forced 17 turnovers, but did have 15 turnovers of their own.

Head coach Brian Dutcher entered the postgame news conference soaked in Gatorade.

“They got me pretty good,” He said.

The Aztecs were led by junior Matt Mitchell, who finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds. It was his first career double-double.

Mitchell needed 15 points tonight to  attain 1,000 career points as an Aztec. Just before he reached the milestone, he ferociously threw down a dunk to start half number two.

“I honestly didn’t know there was somebody under the rim until I took off, but at that point, it was bad for him.” He said.

Yanni Wetzell finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, and shot 77% from the floor.

“I’m still in awe right now.” Wetzell said. “It means that much more because of all the adversity we went through last year. You never expect to go undefeated in February and win a conference championship without losing a game.”

The Aztecs carry a chip on their shoulder, and feel like they have to win every game because they’re 25-0 and still aren’t ranked number one. If the Aztecs hold this grudge, it could help them make a run come March.

It seems as if SDSU’s student section deserves credit for this blowout win as well. The Lobos’ Corey Manigault was ejected for two technical fouls and New Mexico players heard the shouting and yells all game long.

SDSU’s 25-game unbeaten streak to open a season is the longest by an NCAA team since Gonzaga started 29-0 in 2016-17. 

The Aztecs will try to cut into the Bulldogs’ record when they  play against Boise State on Feb. 16

Written by: Daniel Farr

SDSU Wins Old Oil Can 17-7 Over Fresno State Bulldogs

Fresno State traveled down California to obtain the “Old Oil Can” trophy, but the Aztecs weren’t having it. 

If you took San Diego State University -1 and the under, congratulations. SDSU won 17-7 on Friday. 

As usual, SDSU was stout defensively. The Aztecs held the Bulldogs to only 70 rushing yards and only allowed them to convert 13 first downs. In fact, the Bulldogs were a porous 3-12 on third down (25%).

“We deserved to win the game,” Head coach Rocky Long said, “It’s a really very good win for our team, program and puts us one step closer to where we want to be.”

SDSU controlled the ball for 12 minutes longer than Fresno State did, and ran 30 more plays. 

“If you keep their offense off the field, they cant score points.” Senior quarterback Ryan Agnew said. “We have to get more points on the board so then the defense isn’t stressing.”

However, the Bulldogs claimed an early lead. Running back Ronnie Rivers was able to find the end zone and give Fresno State a 7-0 lead.

A big interception by SDSU’s Tariq Thompson set up the Aztecs inside the Fresno State 25-yard line. Two plays later, the Aztecs benefitted from a defensive pass interference and Chase Jasmin scored from the two yard line to tie the game. 

The Aztecs’ defense remained the story, as junior Luq Barcoo intercepted the Bulldogs. The junior college product has seven interceptions this season, which is tied for second in the nation. 

“We make it a competition of us getting plays,” Barcoo said, “So it’s kinda cool to see other guys make those plays and we’re just trying to make those plays.”

Meanwhile, SDSU has 85 interceptions since the start of the 2015 campaign, which is most in the entire nation during that span.

Safety Dwayne Johnson Jr. made it known he’s currently in last place for the team’s friendly competition.

“I got to get one, I got to get one.” Johnson Jr said, I’m in last place right now, but we’re always trying to make to plays to help us win.”

The Aztecs ran into some bad luck toward the end of half one. Senior quarterback Ryan Agnew was intercepted by Fresno State, but the Aztecs defense held tight and forced a Bulldogs punt.

Not too much later, Agnew found tight end Parker Houston for what looked like a touchdown, but it was overturned and SDSU settled for three points.

Right before the first half ended, the Aztecs had a field goal blocked, which kept the lead 10-7 at halftime. 

The Aztecs were marching to start the third quarter, but Chance Bell fumbled inside the three-yard line, which gave the Bulldogs possession again. It was the first time the Aztecs lost a fumble this season; the score remained 10-7.

At the very beginning of the fourth quarter, the Aztecs decided to go for it on fourth down from the Bulldogs two-yard line.

Agnew rolled out of the pocket and found Jasmine for an easy touchdown, which pushed their lead to 10. It was the first time Jasmine scored multiple touchdowns in one game.

The senior quarterback finished with a career high in completions (33) and passing yards (323). He finished with a quarterback rating of 130.7.

After the Bulldogs found some momentum halfway through the fourth quarter, they had a touchdown called back, then Barcoo intercepted Jorge Reyna once again to seal the deal.

It was the third turnover the Aztecs caused on Friday, they are 22-0 when forcing three or more turnovers. 

“This year we’re doing a much better job of taking the ball away,” Long said

The Aztecs are now (8-2; 5-2 Mountain West). They travel to Hawaii next week, kickoff will be 3 p.m. PST. 

Written by: Daniel Farr

NEVADA UPSETS #24 SDSU 17-13

San Diego State entered Saturday’s Mountain West matchup as a 17.5 point favorite over Nevada and the over/under was 39 total points. The Aztecs (7-2, 4-2 MW)  did not cover the spread or win, as they fell 17-13.

For a very slow-paced, low scoring, and defensive game — the ending did not disappoint. The fourth quarter began with a 10-10 tie.

With 12:53 left in the game, SDSU went for and converted a fourth and one from their own 17-yard line, however, a holding penalty called it back and forced them to punt.

Nevada’s first play after the punt was an end around reverse pass that gained 50 yards and set up the Wolfpack inside the SDSU 10. On second and goal, the Aztecs were called for defensive pass interference and it set up a Wolfpack touchdown run, which pushed their lead to seven.

Down 17-10 with 3:47 left in the fourth quarter, SDSU decided to kick a field goal on a fourth and seven, which made it a 17-13 game. “It’s not an easy call, but it’s not a bad call. “Head coach Rocky Long said.”I would do it again.”  It arguably bailed Nevada out.  

SDSU had nine penalties for 79 yards obviously did not help their case. “Way too many penalties, that’s an undisciplined football team and that’s my fault.” Long said.

A third-quarter passing touchdown by the Wolfpack expanded Nevada’s lead to 10-3, but the Aztecs and Chance Bell responded with a 14 play 71-yard drive. Bell ran in a three-yard touchdown run, which knotted the game at 10 with 1:24 left in the third quarter.

The first two quarters saw seven punts, six points, two red zone interceptions, and one Aztec ejected. Junior safety Trenton Thompson was disqualified for targeting early in the game. 

The Aztecs had an incredible scoring opportunity just before the first half concluded. However, senior quarterback Ryan Agnew threw a red zone interception with 1:06 remaining in the half. Before the interception, SDSU had just converted a fourth and one which set them up inside Nevada’s 15-yard line.

The first half was a defensive slug fest, ending in a 3-3 tie. Both teams had trouble finding yards and points throughout the half. In fact, the Wolfpack were held to negative-three rushing yards and did not convert a single third down in the entire first half. 

The Aztecs moved up to No. 24 in the Associated Press Top 25, which was released Nov. 3. It’s hard to see them still ranked after this week, but the Aztecs have another game at home next Friday against Fresno State,

“They’re probably pretty miserable and we’re miserable,” Long said. “Next week one of us will feel much better and the other will feel just as bad or worse.”

Written by: Daniel Farr
Photo by: Justin Neeley