CSUB bound for City of Angels


The softball team reacts to drawing UCLA for the NCAA Division I Regionals during Sunday’s selection show in the Icardo Room. Photo by Alejandra Flores/The Runner

The Runner Staff


The Western Athletic Conference Softball Tournament championship game between top-seeded New Mexico State and third-seeded CSU Bakersfield came down to the final inning.

The game was scoreless in the top of the seventh inning.

With two outs and nobody on base, CSUB’s junior catcher Joanna Larios hit a solo home run for the eventual game-winning run as the Roadrunners beat the Aggies 1-0 on Saturday in Seattle, Wash.

It was Larios’ first career home run in her two years at CSUB.

CSUB softball team celebrates its Western Athletic Conference Tournament win on May 14. Photo courtesy of Joe Whiteside/Western Athletic Conference
CSUB softball team celebrates its Western Athletic Conference Tournament win on May 14.
Photo courtesy of Joe Whiteside/Western Athletic Conference

“I felt it off my bat, I was like oh man,” said Larios.

CSUB head coach Crissy Buck-Ziegler said she knew Larios hit it well.

“It was in slow-motion for me, and it was almost like this is going to happen,” said Buck-Ziegler.

CSUB (16-32), who beat NMSU 2-1 on Friday to advance to the title game, won its first WAC Tournament championship and earned a bid into the NCAA Division I Softball Regionals.

“It really does say a lot about what we have done here in the small amount of time,” said Buck-Ziegler. “Our kids are starting to believe that we are winners.”

Both offenses struggled to get any hits through six innings. CSUB only had two hits and NMSU (38-21) had four hits in the first six innings.

However, in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Aggies were able to get the bases loaded with one out.

“I came out to the circle and [senior pitcher Amber Mills] thought I was taking her out at that moment,” said Buck-Ziegler. “I said ‘I’m sticking with you, bud. This is your ballgame.’ She looked at me and said ‘I got this.’ Even when they had the bases loaded, I just kept thinking they got this. It’s their time to show up, and that’s what they did.”

Mills and the defense got out of the jam thanks to Mills striking out Aggies’ senior Tatum Reedy and a diving catch from senior center fielder Sydney Raeber on a fly ball from sophomore Corrin Green.

That set the stage for Larios’ home run.

“I saw [Larios] in the box,” said senior pitcher Amber Mills. “Her eyes just looked totally different than any other at bat. I had this great feeling. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen.”

After getting a run on the board, the Roadrunners’ defense then came on and closed it out with two groundouts and Mills struck out NMSU’s sophomore Fahren Glackin to clinch CSUB a spot in the Regionals.

Last year, CSUB was in the same position but fell to NMSU in the WAC Tournament championship game.

“It’s crazy how it was the same setup as last year, and I told them I don’t know why, but there is a reason and we are walking out of here as the WAC champions,” said Buck-Ziegler.

Raeber said she felt they played for some revenge against the Aggies.

“We played pitch to pitch, and we weren’t really looking for an outcome, [but] I do believe we played for revenge,” said Raeber.

CSUB was led by Mills (9-14) who earned the win and gave up only four hits, striking out four batters and walking only one on her way to a complete game.

Mills earned all three of the tournament wins.

“[Mills] turned to me and said, ‘I get what you been wanting from me all these years,’” said Buck-Ziegler. “She finally got that belief in herself, and you saw that on Saturday.”

Raeber, who had two saves against the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday and NMSU on Friday, earned the WAC Tournament Most Valuable Player Award. Mills and Larios garnered All-Tournament Team honors.

The Roadrunners are set to play in their first NCAA Division I Softball Regional. They will play against number 12 national seed UCLA on Friday 6 p.m. at UCLA’s Easton stadium. CSU Fullerton and Fresno State are the other two teams in the Los Angeles Regional.

UCLA (35-13-1, Pac-12 16-5-1) is making it 32nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament and finished second in its Pac-12 conference.

CSUB is led by junior Julea Cavazos, who is averaging .382 hitting with 12 runs batted in on 157 at-bats. Raeber is hitting .318 with a team-high 21 RBIs and nine doubles. She also leads the team in saves with five. Mills leads the way in pitching with a 2.78 earned-run average as well as 53 strikeouts and 5 complete games in 138.2 innings pitched.

The Bruins are led by junior Delaney Spaulding, who is hitting .342 in 102 at-bats with 14 home runs and 56 runs batted in. Sophomore pitcher Selina Ta’amilo has a 17-5 record on the season and is averaging a 3.74 ERA with 107 strikeouts in 131 innings pitched.

Buck-Ziegler will return to her alma mater to play against them for the first time this season.

“It’s going to be fun and it’s going to be a fun place to play at,” she said.

Buck-Ziegler is excited the CSUB softball team will get its first shot at a national championship.

Raeber said CSUB has what it takes to beat UCLA.

“We have what it takes to win this regional,” she said. “I know we are going to do big things. We are going to shock the world.”