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

Behind The Mic: Kyle Saunders

Unafraid to break the status quo, Kyle Saunders has made a name for himself as a family man, with his brothers, and as KCR’s Sports Director.

At first glance, a stranger may see KCR Sports Director Kyle Saunders’ flip flops and Pike fraternity polo and write him off to be like every other stereotypical white frat boy we’ve seen in movies like Animal House and Neighbors, but that could not be farther from the truth. 

Born and raised in Sacramento, California along with his young sister, Kyle spent a majority of his youth with his mother’s huge immediate family. Family values are the basis of the loving, caring, radiating aura that Saunders gives off wherever he roams. If you happen to see Saunders at any time on campus, you can feel the positive energy emitting from his being. 

With his father in and out of the picture, Saunders has always been grateful for the bonds he shares with his family.

He even goes so far as to say that he does not have friends, only family. This sentiment is something many people think they believe in, but it is the only truth Saunders knows. 

Growing up without much of a father figure, Saunders chose to fill that role himself and be that for his younger sister. Being overprotective at times, it caused some tension in their relationship during their teens. However, it paid off well as they now have a solid relationship that is as budding as ever. 

So, why would someone whose family means so much to them decide to leave their hometown and go to a school on the opposite end of the state? Simply for a fresh start and to add more people into his family. 

Saunders was on a recruiting trip to play basketball at UCSD and had some free time during his trip, so he decided to check out SDSU’s campus. Now, he was unsure if his academics were good enough to get him into the school, but after receiving an acceptance letter that doubt was gone forever. He found a new home and was excited to start a new family. 

Saunders played football, basketball, and golf throughout his high school career. Those teams gave him many of the friends he still has to this day, while also fostering a sense of community for him. You could say sports are a passion for Saunders, but a better assessment would be that the familial aspect of sports was something he always admired. 

Sports tend to instill a work ethic into athletes that often translates into other aspects of life. One thing very evident about Saunders is that he is not afraid to try new things and he will persist until he is successful. He even picked up surfing last May to start off his first summer in San Diego. With nothing but a goal and a foam board, Saunders kept trying and can now say, “I’m pretty nice.”

Now, even with the best work ethic, doubts still arise. Living hours away from your friends and family can be difficult when you’re a freshman that’s used to knowing everybody, that now does not really know anybody. On top of that, one of his closest high school instructors passed away from a surprising heart attack only a couple of weeks into the school year. However, that frustration and those doubts all went away one afternoon, in Chipotle. 

Sitting by himself, weeks out from KCR’s first meeting, Saunders was approached by two young men who were also rushing at the time and wanting to befriend Saunders. Austin Lemak was one of the two young men that approached him and they ended up becoming pledge brothers for SDSU’s Pike fraternity. Unfortunately, Lemak passed away this past February from Oral Cancer. Though their relationship was short-lived they felt like lifelong brothers. Lemak’s impact on Saunders is a testament to how meaningful any relationship can be no matter how long it lasts. It also helped him gain a whole new family through his fraternity brothers.

We all know the stigma behind fraternities, but Saunders proves that there’s more than what you see in the media.

Choosing to prioritize his individuality and not compromise his pride, Pike was the place for him. Working around his schedule played a big part, but the Miracle League of San Diego that the frat volunteers for made the final sale. Saturdays during the semester, members of Pike go out and assist children who are disabled in their own baseball league. They help the players hit and field the ball and hold their hands while running around the bases. Growing up with a cousin with autism, this meant a lot to Saunders. 

Photo Credit: Alexis Camel

Their charitable work sold Saunders, but he was also enamored in the foundation he was able to build. The fall of 2016 was his freshman year at state and his pledge class was the first to have an actual house on campus. Saunders had a vision and along with his brothers, brought it to fruition. This meant that he could and would play an integral part in creating a legacy for the fairly young fraternity.

Serving as Director of Programming while also having the top GPA of his house during his sophomore and junior year, Saunders found ways to make the most out of the money they had without having members pay exponential dues. His favorite memory of serving that position was PikeStock, a homemade, makeshift festival that opened its doors to SDSU students that were not even in the fraternity. Complete with LED lights, CO2 spray, it was one for the ages, to say the least.

Now frats are fun and all, but Saunders says, “There’s so much more to me and what I do than drinking plastic vodka on a Tuesday.”

KCR is one facet of his identity that he takes a lot of pride in. With his sports career now over he already knew he wanted to continue in the industry of sports through our own KCR after being sold during freshman orientation.

His first show was KT Sportstalk with Tony Zarate and it actually garnered him a Top Sports Show award in its first season. Shadowing the Sports Director at the time, Saunders wanted each and every opportunity to immerse himself in the Aztec world of sports. He has covered every sport on campus from Women’s Water Polo to Men’s Baseball. Writing, announcing, and whatever else the sports department offered the opportunity to do. The most interesting coverage he did was a women’s water polo game which he had never watched before but was utterly impressed by their competitiveness. “Head Coach Sydney Crawford is awesome, and it was intense man. They’re pulling hair, grabbing each other, scratching each other under the water, talking shit, it was super fun,” said Saunders.

After a full year in KCR, Saunders believed he was ready for the Sports Director position, but the new management at the time believed otherwise. Without the position, he had worked so hard for, he decided to take a step back and venture into sportswriting for The Daily Aztec. He enjoyed his time covering football on the sidelines as a beat reporter, but he figured out that writing was not as fun for him as what he had done with KCR. He came back the following semester and did his own sports talk show yet again.

This past January, Saunders finally got his shot at the Sports Director position. When handed the reins he was left with more problems than benefits. However, the networking king that is Kyle Saunders was able to use the connections he made before to reconnect relationships and gain the trust of the sports teams on campus. After only a semester on the job, he believes the department is doing well. “It’s a lot better. I think it’s a lot more transparent,” said Saunders.

Where does Saunders want to go next?

He’s discussed opportunities with the San Diego Padres and he dreams of being on Sportscenter, but all he wants to do is be happy and surround himself with good people. “I’d love to be crafting up highlights all day and interviewing athletes, that’d be so cool. Traveling with a team would be really cool. I won’t say no to anything at this point,” he goes on to say, “I’m just doing what makes me happy and surrounding myself with good people.”

Saunders is an example of what having strong values and a good work ethic can do to your life and to the lives of those you interact with. He will acquire his Bachelor’s in Journalism and Media Studies in May 2020, but he’s already found success in his own right. Saunders said, “Success would be, a happy group of people around me.” If you see him on campus you can see just how successful he is. A lifelong fan of the Sacramento Kings, Saunders, and his hometown team are both on the rise to the top.

Photo Credit: Alexis Camel
Written by: Alexis Camel

The Seals Head to Playoffs After Loss to Buffalo

In the San Diego Seals‘ regular season finale against the Buffalo Bandits, the Seals lost 18-7, resulting in the Seals entering the playoffs as the #2 seed.

In the team’s regular season finale against the Buffalo Bandits, the San Diego Seals lost 18-7. A packed Pechanga Arena full of enthused lacrosse fans went home feeling down, but with the NLL playoffs beginning on Monday, May 6 there is room for optimism.

The Seals are set to play the Calgary Roughnecks in the western division semifinals game at 7:30 p.m on Monday at Pechanga. The Seals clinched the number two seed in the playoffs and home-field advantage on April 19.

Like the NBA, teams from the Eastern and Western conference make the postseason. Unlike the NBA, where eight teams from each conference make the playoffs, only four teams from each conference make the playoffs in box lacrosse.

On Saturday night, the Seals had an opportunity to clinch the number one seed out West. They had to beat the Bandits and the Colorado Mammoth had to beat the Saskatchewan Rush. Neither happened.

The season finale resulted in a dismal 11 point loss for the Seals. The team was held to a season low one goal in the first period and could not sustain any momentum.

San Diego cut the lead to 5-4 midway through the second quarter, but the Bandits quickly figured it out and expanded their lead 9-4 going into the break. The Seals were outshot 30 to 22 after two quarters.

Head Coach and general manager Patrick Merrill took note of his team’s lackluster play.

“In order to win games in this league you have to mentally prepare, you have to be motivated to play with a lot of heart and if you don’t these things happen.”

For the Bandits, Shawn Evans finished with six assists and two goals while his teammates Jordan Durston and Chase Fraser ended up each accomplishing the hat trick. Both finished with three goals.

San Diego found it difficult to get solid scoring opportunities in the game, turning the ball over and committing multiple shot clock violations. The Seals also committed five penalties and Buffalo took advantage of San Diego’s mistakes, going 3-3 on power plays.

Seals’ forward and captain Dan Dawson said this game will not linger on the team’s mind.

“We got to forget about this one. There was not one facet of the game where they didn’t control,” Dawson said. “When they control the game like that we can’t even compete with them.”

Dawson finished with 29 goals on the season he scored two and assisted on one against the Bandits on Saturday.

Even in a ruckus environment the Bandits found their offense early as Forwards Josh Byrne, Durston and Evans combined for five goals and four assists in the first half.

Merill has taken notice of the strong home crowd/fan base.

“It’s been a great ride so far [Playing in San Diego]” Merill said, “I wish we would’ve gave them a better game here tonight, but we plan to give them a better game next week [Against Calgary].”

The Seals are apart of the Nation Lacrosse League (NLL). The NLL has been around for 32 years and is the world’s only professional box lacrosse league. The Seals are an expansion team of the league, the NLL has 13 total teams.

The NLL ranks third in average attendance for professional indoor sports, behind the NHL and NBA.

The NLL rosters are made up of 21 players, six players including the goalie can be on the field during play. The game is made up of four 15 minute quarters, a 30 second shot clock, and a sudden death overtime. Body checks are allowed, but penalties are called for: high sticking, boarding, face masking, fighting, spearing, elbowing, holding, illegal cross-checking, slashing, and tripping.

Written by: Daniel Farr