March 22, 2022

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Fresno State’s Award-Winning Newspaper


Tuesday, March 22, 2022


Courtesy of Kathy Yarmo

ASI presidential candidates face off in debate.

St. Patrick's Day Celebration Page 4

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'Dogs win over Nevada Page 7




ASI presidential candidates debate on Fresno State topics By Jannah Geraldo Three presidential candidates spoke on campus issues and recent university controversies at the first in-person Associated Students Inc. (ASI) presidential debate since 2020 on Friday, March 18. Presidential candidates D’Aungillique Jackson, Aidan Garaygordobil and Edward Thurber were given 90 seconds to respond. The Collegian senior news reporter Edward Lopez and reporter Adam Ricardo Solis provided questions to the candidates. Following introductions, candidates were asked for their qualifications to serve as ASI president, with Jackson starting first. She noted her time working with the current administration and ASI senate as the 20212022 ASI president and her experience as a Na-

that is trying to work toward one goal and that is bringing change,” Garaygordobil said. Third to respond, Thurber said he has had experience in his own efforts to communicate with campus clubs, organizations and Greek life chapters at the university to understand its needs and areas for improvement on campus. “I believe what best qualifies me for this position is my attention of the students, to the clubs I’m a part of, and the clubs I’ve talked to, and the clubs I will come talk to and continue to contact, if I’m elected,” Thurber said. In light of the controversies surrounding the mishandling of Title IX cases under the previous administration of Joseph Castro, candidates were asked about what they will do as ASI president to ensure the university improves its efforts in handling Title IX cases. Jackson said that survivor advocate Mindy Kates was “one person serving 25,000 students

tional Civic Engagement trainer for the NAACP. “I think the other thing is my ability to really mediate and to relationship build,” Jackson said. Next to answer, Garaygordobil, current senator for the College of Arts and Humanities, emphasized his personal experience in leading various councils and committees he has been a part of. “You have to lead the Senate and your counsel, yes, but then you also are part of a team

and over 1,000 employees by herself” and advised Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval to expand the office with an additional survivor advocate and more student assistance. Garaygordobil agreed with Jackson’s goal to expand the services at the university. He also said that addressing Title IX and transparency must be constant and that the university “can’t just talk about Title IX and sexual assault when a scandal happens.” Thurber responded by saying that the issues


Wyatt Bible • The Collegian

ASI presidential debate candidates Aidan Garaygordobil (left), D’Aungillique Jackson (middle) and Edward Thurber (right) discuss university topics. highlighted the problem of “understaffed and underpaid” services on campus, sharing fellow candidates’ sentiments regarding increasing the number of survivor advocates and more support for the Title IX coordinator. “I think that we’ve had a really rocky ride, and what we need right now going into this next academic year is consistency and leadership,” Jackson said. Garaygordobil emphasized the importance of communication with students and his goal to

“really combat the problems that we’re having on campus.” Thurber said that ASI needs to have a dynamic and changing leadership and said he found it “most important to constantly have new people bring in new ideas for the students.” The 2022-2023 ASI election will begin on Tuesday, March 22 at 9:00 a.m. and will end Thursday, March 24 at noon. Results will be read in the USU Bulldog Pavilion at 1 p.m.

‘Sustain’ workshop advocates against violence in Central Valley Reporter

Fresno State student Gabriel Yanez, a second-year master’s student in social work, wanted to bring awareness to the violence affecting individuals, families and communities in the United States. He also wanted to advocate for change within the community. “I want to help build communities. I want to inspire people. I want to make a change, whether it be at a personal level or as a collective,” Yanez said. With support from the Latino-Hmong Mental Health Initiative and the Cross-Cultural and Gender Center (CCGC) at Fresno State, Yanez hosted “Sustain.” It was a workshop on violence in America, and was held in Room 135 of the North Gym on Thursday.

Yanez said this workshop was inspired by the prevalence of violence within the Central Valley. It was the cause that motivated him to address the problem at Fresno State. He said violence in America has a domino effect on numerous other issues, and he wants more people to realize that too in workshops like “Sustain.” “Issues like toxic masculinity, emotional manipulation, stalking and poor communication skills are all cut from the same cloth as violence,” Yanez said. “That was the influence behind ‘Sustain.’ I want to give this message of hope to others, that we can tackle this problem through awareness and sustenance. The power of humanity is strong when we do it together,” he said. Yanez noted the workshop saw around 60 participants.

Each participant started the event with icebreakers as they broke out into discussion groups. These discussion groups would then delve into deeper issues about violence in their communities and in the U.S. The workshop was also supervised by Fresno State assistant social work professor

Marcus Crawford, who helped facilitate Yanez’s presentation on his culminating experience within Fresno State’s graduate program. “I have to give most of the credit to [Yanez]. He conceptualized the idea of this project and brought it to life perfectly,” Crawford said. Crawford also gave credit for the event to CCGC, for helping with venue booking, online check-ins and advertising of the event. “At the end of this all, my dream is to see a collective community; a unified America,” Yanez said. “But it has to start from the ground up, and that starts with a collaborative Fresno.”

Correction Wyatt Bible• The Collegian

By Jermaine Abraham

In the March 15 edition, it was incorrectly written that the estimated cost of the future low-cost housing would be $500 million. The estimated cost is $50 million. The Collegian regrets this error.




Faculty and staff discuss Castro and Title IX in open forum By Manuel Hernandez News Editor

On Thursday, Fresno State hosted two hour-long open forums for faculty and staff, discussing any questions, topics or concerns they wanted to share with President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval and members of administration. The hybrid event was moderated by Lauren Nickerson, vice president for university communications, and Betsy Hays, chair of the Media, Communications and Journalism department. Conversations about Joseph Castro and Frank Lamas Questions in both forums focused on former Fresno State president Joseph Castro and his handling of sexual harassment cases involving former Fresno State administrator Frank Lamas. One faculty member, Luz Gonzalez, executive director of the Fresno State Visalia Campus, addressed the importance of protecting women in the campus community, advocating for female faculty members who are afraid of reporting sexual harassment. The professor said the Castro and Lamas case showcased how the Fresno State environment left female faculty unable to help and frightened to file a complaint because of the “relationship between two men.” The president agreed with her and said he built his cabinet to promote trust and communication. “I want to know the truth,” Jiménez-Sandoval said in his response. “I don’t want it sugar coated. I don’t want it to be yielded.” In the staff meeting, held later, questions were raised if current administrators involved in the case would go on paid leave as investigations continue. Jiménez-Sandoval stood behind his current administrative staff and said he believes no administrator would go on paid leave. “They did what they had to do within their own situations,” he said. He noted that after reading all the documentation of the case, he understood the “pressure on the campus” and that it is “not an easy situation.” Since Jiménez-Sandoval took over as fulltime president in January 2021, he said he wanted to make it clear to faculty and staff who were hurt and angry with Castro’s mishandling

Wyatt Bible • The Collegian

Fresno State president Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval answers questions at the Faculty Open Forum held on March 16, 2022 at Room 118 in the North Gym Building. that he understands the situation after reading all the reports. “You need to trust me, and you need to trust that I have read everything that has come to my desk,” Jiménez-Sandoval said. “I have seen the documentation and I trust my cabinet fully and completely.” Updates and community concerns regarding Title IX Conversations about Castro led to a broader discussion about the university’s treatment of all Title IX cases, with both staff and faculty advocating change in the system and process of how the Fresno State community handles these cases The university president provided updates on the Title IX task force that was announced on Feb. 8 and said he is waiting on confirmation of four more members of the committee to reveal the full task force. It was also announced that members will consist of professors, staff members and three students, as well as community members and professionals outside of Fresno State. He also specified that the purpose of the task force is to investigate Title IX cases, discrimination, harassment and retaliation (DHR), alongside microaggression and macroaggression, which make up 85% of cases the administration receives, Jiménez-Sandoval said. He noted that the classification of a microaggression can also involve cases that are not accepted for investigation, and that the task force was made to also assess this “gray area” in Title IX and DHR cases. Along with the task force, questions were

brought up about the three additional administrators for Title IX and DHR that Jiménez-Sandoval announced he’d hire, with one comment questioning why the university doesn’t invest more resources and funds to the current staff. The three additions to the staff were created to promote a more efficient system, according to Jiménez-Sandoval. Title IX concerns involving the LGBTQ+ community were brought up in the faculty forum. The president said he has talked with advocacy groups who want the Student Health Center to start providing health initiatives and services to those communities. COVID-19, mask policy and virtual synchronous courses The president said he wanted to make it clear that Fresno State is “still dealing with COVID-19.” Vice President Deborah Adishian-Astone said that the COVID-19 Testing Center will continue to be open the remainder of this semester.

In response to questions about the university lifting its mask policy, Jiménez-Sandoval said the university is still confident with its decision and stands behind the decision to let only faculty, not staff, enforce a mask requirement because of some classroom environments that prefer masks. Faculty and staff also brought up the student rating system for professors, saying they noticed students struggling to fight complaints they made to administration. Many said that students’ complaints aren’t being heard and advocated for changes in how professors teach, with Carlos Martinez, professor of the Craig School of Business, saying, “when students are paying, they deserve good treatment, good customer service.” “We have confidentiality concerns and the regulations are part of collective bargaining agreement,” Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Xuanning Fu said. Fu noted that student participation in the rating systems has declined since the beginning of COVID-19. The president also responded and said that Department Chair of Child and Family Science Kathleen Dyer is spearheading a new way of assessing professors in class. Both staff and faculty also posed questions about virtual synchronous learning and telecommuting with students. Jiménez-Sandoval said virtual synchronous classes will continue for classes that are more suitable for a virtual platform than in-person. The staff forum brought up a “sense of frustration,” Hays said, reading one comment online, because certain staff members are accepted for telecommuting while others are denied due to “essential nature of their work.” The president said that the university is doing its best to accommodate those still wanting to conduct work virtually and that people with specific cases or complaints should contact him.





Richter Center recruitment fair showcases volunteer opportunities By Ashley Flowers A&E Editor

The Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning connected students with on and off-campus volunteer organizations during its first spring recruitment fair on Wednesday, March 16. The recruitment fair, held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the memorial gardens outside the Kennel Bookstore, hosted organizations like Read Fresno, Central Valley College Corps, Richter Center Student Leaders, Jumpstart Fresno and Scholars in Service. Kayla Ferreira, third-year liberal studies major at Fresno State, started working with the center last August and helped host the event. “Our goal was to help students connect with programs that they may benefit from. We hope that students now feel well-informed about our various programs and who to contact if they would like to get involved,” Ferreira said. One organization that tabled, Read Fresno, which is a partnership between Fresno State and Every Neighborhood Partnership, hires Fresno State students through federal work study to support elementary students in academics as Read Fresno mentors.

The Scholars in Service program, administered by the Richter Center, also had a table to connect with students. The program, which launched in fall 2012, gives student participants the ability to earn a $1,200 grant each semester by completing 90 hours of service per semester with an approved site. The center regularly provides or sponsors programs like Read Fresno and Scholars in Service, as well as other one-day service events, short-term and long-term service opportunities, service-learning courses, alternative breaks, international service-learning, service-based student leadership and more, according to its website. Taylan Bennett, special projects coordinator at the Richter Center for over five years, said more than 70 students attended the fair. “Our student programs have continued throughout the pandemic, they have just taken on various forms: virtual, in-person, etc,” Bennett said. Later in March, the center is sponsoring the Fresno State Blood Drive on Tuesday, March 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday, March 30 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the Student Union walkway and North Gym, Room 118. Students interested in assisting with future

Jesús Cano • The Collegian

Students engage with organizers during the recruitment fair. Richter Center events and becoming more involved on campus can attend informational sessions to become Richter Center student leaders. “If students have a passion for serving in their community and are looking for a leadership opportunity, the Richter Center Student Leader program is having an info session next

week on Monday, March 28, at noon to 1 p.m., in-person, in USU, 312-314. This program is open to any Fresno State student,” Bennett said. Other future events and opportunities will be announced on the Richter Center’s social media accounts.

Students ‘turn up’ during St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Bulldog Bowl By Adam Ricardo Solis Reporter

Fresno State’s Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC) offered free bowling for students at the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Thursday, March 17. The celebration was at Bulldog Bowl in the lower level of the University Student Union (USU), where students were able to bowl and play billiards for free and drink mocktails from 7 - 9 p.m. as a part of the SHCC’s Healthy Campus Week series of events on campus. Kathy Yarmo, wellness coordinator, said that occasionally students may not know what to do on St. Patrick’s Day, and when people think about the holiday they frequently associate it with going out to bars and drinking. Because of that, the SHCC wanted to provide students a fun alternative where alcohol isn’t in the mix. “We wanted to provide an opportunity, again, not to say not to drink — obviously we encourage drinking of age — but there are oth-

er things that you can do to have fun. So, we wanted to provide another option for students to come in and have fun,” Yarmo said. Yarmo said, due to seeing the mental health of some students who come to the counseling center, she hopes events like the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration provide students with a chance to decompress and unplug from their school life and studying. When students walk into the counseling center, Yarmo said she can see the stress in their faces from midterms, and that she wanted to make sure they have opportunities and events like these for any who feel that they need a break. Tylah Haggard spent the previous day prioritizing school work, so Thursday night provided her an opportunity to be part of this “live” event. “It’s helping me by definitely giving me time to relax and kind of decompress, so that, when I go back to doing my school work, it’ll be good, and I can focus and just log back in,” Haggard said.

Prabal Angrish, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, said he was previously led to believe the return to in-person instruction after the pandemic would lack fun activities for students, but the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration showed him otherwise. “I came to Fresno State in 2019, and this was the vibe that I missed, and like all these new students come in and they’re saying Fresno State is dead. They [can] see right now, ‘OK this place can really turn it up.’ I love this, this is amazing. I missed this so much, and I’m so glad this is happening,” Angrish said. He said he brought his friends soon after learning the bowling alley was open again, and they were excited when they heard they were able to bowl for free. “We missed this bowling alley. It’s like the highlight of our campus, [that] we have a bowling alley. Like, whoever asks me what’s the greatest thing about our campus, I’m like ‘We have a bowling alley,’” Angrish said. To Angrish, the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration was important because of the efforts that

went into making an alcohol-free event where students can have fun and do activities that they find entertaining, especially when alcohol and drugs have become so “approachable.” “It really shows when a community comes together, it’s all about the people,” Angrish said.

Courtesy of Kathy Yarmo

Students pose for a picture together during the St. Patrick’s Day event.




Fresno State alumna Gabriella Gaona hosts free Campus Pointe workouts By Viviana Hinojos Reporter

Fresno State alumna Gabriella Gaona wasn’t involved with fitness until her final year at Fresno State. Now, she offers free workout sessions on the first and third Sundays of each month at Campus Pointe. “I went to the [Student Recreation Center] here and there while in school but I just didn’t know what to do. And that’s why I wanted to host sessions at Campus Pointe to see if students walking around that live in Palazzo or nearby might want to learn the basics,” Gaona said. Gaona said she never forgot her own struggle with fitness while in college, such as not having any idea of what to do or how to work out when she first started. During her last semester at Fresno State, she met Auggie Arias, who is now her close friend. They are also business partners at The

Healthy Fix, a protein shop that makes healthy, low calorie shakes on Fort Washington Road in Fresno. Arias taught Gaona much of what she knows about fitness, and she said having Arias was a huge help in learning how to work out. Gaona often followed him around the gym, swapping tips about protein intake. After Gaona started to see results, she decided to start helping some of her friends, too. Gaona said she understands that not all women are comfortable working out with a male trainer and may prefer to have a woman instead. She currently offers group training classes that range from beginner levels to advanced, to teach her clients how to work out and feel comfortable on their own at the gym. Tracy Kashian, who handles public relations for Campus Pointe, said their goal is to do more things for the community without having to charge.

Courtesy of Gabriella Gaona

Fresno State alumna Gabriella Gaona wasn’t always involved with fitness, but now hosts free sessions on the first and third Sundays of the month.

“Fitness is something that we hope everyone’s doing these days, and so to have a free event out there and have people gather and just enjoy the beautiful outdoors, and to have the workout in the square, we just thought it would be great,” Kashian said. She said that, for students, cost is always something to consider, with many having financial responsibilities that leave little or no room to spend on a fitness trainer. “A lot of people want to learn how to work out. They just don’t know where to start, and some people just also don’t have the money. I don’t have the extra $150 a month to go,” Gaona said. Gaona has hosted two workout sessions so far and plans to continue for as long as people keep showing up. Gaona’s current clients alongside Fresno State students showed up to her workout session on March 20. Paityn Kay Boyt, a communications major and senior at Fresno State who is also friends with Gaona, has been to both sessions so far. Boyt said she was grateful for the morning workout and said it’s a great start to the day. “It’s nice to be outside, [as] opposed to always being in a gym or inside a home,” Boyt

said. For others, like Elizabeth Haro, who graduated in 2017 with a degree in sociology, Sunday’s session was a new experience, but Haro said it wouldn’t be her last. Haro said she enjoyed the structure and professionalism of Gaona’s workout session, and also noted that Gaona provided alternative exercises if the ones being taught were too difficult. “It motivates [and] inspires me, and [it] is also empowering to be with other women, working on our physical and mental health,” Haro said. Gaona said she hopes that women walk away from her sessions with confidence to go into the gym and do the exercises she teaches on their own, leaving behind the intimidation a gym can bring and saying hello to confidence. “People don’t need to be intimidated. Everyone starts somewhere,” Gaona said. The next session will be on Sunday, April 3. Students can access more information on upcoming workout sessions with Gaona through Campus Pointe’s Instagram account @campuspointefresno and Gaona’s account @gabriellagaona.




Opinion: Cavinder twins transferring out of Fresno State is right move for them in NIL era

Wyatt Bible and Melina Kazanjian • The Collegian

Hanna Cavinder (left) and Haley Cavinder (right) put their names in the transfer portal last week, ending their three year run at Fresno State.

By Jesús Cano

Managing Editor Full-time social media influencers Haley and Hanna Cavinder entered their names into the transfer portal, leaving a departure pending from their second job as players for the Fresno State basketball team. But, are we really surprised by this? The Fresno State women’s basketball team was destined for disappointment the moment Maddi Utti, Aly Gamez, Brooke Walling and Kendyll Kinzer all transferred out of the basketball program, which most likely had to with the lackluster loss to Wyoming in the 2021 Mountain West championship tournament. Looking back at it now, it’s comical to believe that the Bulldogs were predicted to finish in first place in the Mountain West preseason poll. But the Cavinder twins’ situation is unique.

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Five years ago, the idea of making money off your name as a college athlete seemed nearly impossible, but with the twins being one of the pioneers in the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) era, their biggest priority right now is to secure the bag. The reality of the matter is that the Cavinder twins are swimming in an ocean of money posting on TikTok and YouTube, not for making baskets, barely passing the ball and losing in the Mountain West tournament championship game. The twins are the textbook definition of what marketing yourself well in the NIL can do for athletes. They probably have more money in their bank accounts as 21-year-olds than most people make by the age of 40. It seems like every day they ink a new deal. First came Boost Mobile, then came their own line of underwear with PSD and finally the deal with WWE came calling.

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That’s why leaving the Fresno State program is going to help their careers post-graduation. Fresno State isn’t the megamarket place where people will flock to grow their brand. While the Cavinders did make the most of what they had, they didn’t come in with the formula to become social media influencers. They came in right when TikTok was on the rise. As they say: right place, right time. The success they have isn’t going to be replicated anytime soon. Not on their level. The twins have enough followers to a point that, if they wanted to retire from basketball and just focus on their career as influencers, they certainly could do that. It wouldn’t be the ideal thing to do in the long run. With two years of eligibility left, it would be in their best interest to stretch out their time as athletes. The elephant in the room remains: what school will be their next stop?

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There are sure to be plenty of suitors in contact with them right now. Any school would immediately benefit from being associated with the Cavinder brand, bringing their 4 million TikTok followers with them. The home area schools University of Arizona and Arizona State could be two options. But that could result in them riding the bench. Even as good as their numbers are at Fresno State, tussling with the giants at Power 5 schools won’t be a walk in the park. Remaining in the Mountain West could be their best fit, with schools like Boise State and San Diego State having the most notoriety in the conference. UCF and Cincinnati are other groups of five schools with some mainstream attention. But no matter where they go, the room for profit for them and their new team will grow. Congrats Hanna and Haley, you guys secured the bag.

Melina Kazanjian Wyatt Bible Lexee Padrick Hannah Hieber Mackenzie Brazier Carli Medina Teagan Riley Brenda Valdez Richard Marshall Kevin Fries Jan Edwards Timothy Drachlis Betsy Hays

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Diamond ‘Dogs top Mountain West favorites Nevada

Wyatt Bible • The Collegian

Senior Vinny Bologna (left) at bat and the Diamond ‘Dogs (right) celebrating their win in the second game against Nevada on March 20, 2022 at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium.

By Aidan Garaygordobil Reporter

Josh Lauck’s walk-off home run clinched a series win for the Diamond ‘Dogs in their weekend series against Nevada. The Fresno State baseball team won its first two games of the series, 6-2 and 3-2 respectively, before dropping its final game of the series in extra innings, 7-6. The series victory snapped a streak for the ‘Dogs in which they had lost five of their last six games, and also lifted the team to a .500 win percentage in conference games with a 3-3 record. The Diamond ‘Dogs began the series with a dominant performance from sophomore pitcher Ixan Henderson, who pitched 6.2 innings and struck out seven batters while only allowing four hits and one earned run. Henderson’s strong outing was backed up by an offensive explosion for Fresno State, which began in the first inning. Andrew Kachel drew a four-pitch walk to become the first baserunner of the game for the ‘Dogs and was then knocked by an Ivan Luna single to center field.

Tommy Hopfe followed Luna with a single. With Hopfe and Luna on base, Vinny Bologna brought them home with his triple to extend their lead to 3-0. In the second inning, Fresno State added two more from Luna’s infield single with the bases loaded. Nevada scored its first run in the top of the third, but Hopfe responded by hitting a solo home run to open the fifth. Following Hopfe’s homer, he was called on to relieve Henderson in the sixth. He finished the game with 2.1 innings pitched and only allowed one run off of two hits, while also going 2 for 3 at the plate with a home run. Nevada scored its second and final run in the eighth with back-to-back doubles, but Fresno State held on to win the game 6-2. The second matchup of the series was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but was canceled due to rain, creating a doubleheader for the ‘Dogs on Sunday. The Bulldogs began Sunday’s play by winning 3-2 with a walk-off home run. Nevada opened up scoring in the bottom of the second inning when second baseman Josh-

ua Zamora hit a solo home run. Both teams then struggled offensively, with Fresno State not picking up its first hit until the fifth inning on a Bologna single. Nevada added another run in the top of the eighth on a sacrifice fly to center field by Zamora. The ‘Dogs entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing two runs and with only two hits the entire game. Despite this, Bologna kicked things off with a single to center and was immediately followed by a two-run home run from Payton Allen that tied the game 2-2. Lauck followed Allen, and the redshirt senior then ended the game with a walk-off home run to clinch a Fresno State series victory. The Diamond ‘Dogs had half-an-hour to celebrate before beginning the third and final game of the weekend. Although they had won two straight games, Fresno State dropped the third game of the series 7-6 in extra innings. The matchup began with neither team scoring for the first two innings. However, Ben Newton set the tone for the ‘Dogs by knocking in Allen for the first run of the game.

Kachel then hit a two-run home run the next at-bat to extend their lead to 3-0. Nevada responded the next inning on a sacfly from catcher Matt Clayton, but Fresno State then added two more runs in the bottom of the inning to extend its lead to 5-1. In the sixth, Nevada began making its way back into the game. They scored their first run on a throwing error by Kachel, then added another from a sacfly by third baseman Tyler Bosetti. Clayton then tied the game with a two-run home run, and Jacob Stinson gave Nevada the lead with a single to round out the inning. The ‘Dogs failed to tie the game for the next two innings. However, they performed more late-game heroics as Zach Morgan tied the game with an RBI single. But Nevada clinched the game in the top of the 10th inning when right fielder Pat Caulfield singled to bring in the go ahead run. The series victory has the Diamond ‘Dogs current record at 9-11 overall and added much needed wins in Mountain West play. The team’s next game will be a Tuesday night matchup against Long Beach State.




Bulldog softball ‘hungry’ for MW conference season By Estela Anahi Jaramillo Sports Editor

This non-conference season has not been ideal for the Fresno State softball team. As they head into their conference season, the team and coaching staff said they are thankful for the opportunities that were shown to the team playing against top schools such as UCLA. Head coach Stacy May-Johnson highlighted the positive attitude the team continued to carry despite their struggles in their non-conference. They used their losses as learning opportunities to focus on what the team needed to improve on. “What we’ve seen consistently over the last few weeks is that we are improving, and we are not where we want to be. We want to continue to improve. We want to continue to get better,” May-Johnson said. May-Johnson said one of the key components the team plans to improve on is their pitching. The team’s pitchers so far this season Casey Dixon, Marley Hanlon, Cassidy West, Danielle Lung and Alyssa Orr have an Earned Run Average (ERA) above 5.00. “I think [if] they step on the mound, they’ve

got to have belief in the pitch that they’re going to throw and execute the pitch,” May-Johnson said. She explained that the pitcher’s battle on the mound stands on a thin line between their failure and success, and their confidence behind their pitches will help get those outs. “They’ve got to execute their pitches, and I don’t think they can execute their pitches without full confidence and belief in what they’re doing,” she said. May-Johnson noted that the team’s defense hasn’t reached the level they need to be at to backup their pitchers. This has made it difficult for the pitchers to get those outs and make the plays defensively. Fresno State senior Vanessa Hernandez said the pitching they competed against in Pac12 was definitely an awakening for the team offensively and defensively. “You know, [facing] Pac-12 teams… [and] just experiencing that higher level of pitching as a hitter was pretty, I would say humbling, in a sense. But it was a lot of experience as a team, just challenging ourselves to better teams, and just really stepping up,” Hernandez said. Despite losing against some top teams, the Bulldogs still produced some runs, and

May-Johnson said that these runs proved that the team had the skill offensively to improve. “Offensively we can, we’ve shown we could produce some runs, we had a rough stretch in there. But since then, we’ve figured out how to score these runs,” she said. “But I also think our team is confident. We can conceive, and our team is ready.” These past games have been a clear show of what the softball team needs to improve on, and their focus on offense isn’t on their batting average, but scoring the needed runs to win the game. “We’ve done a better job of that, you know, and so I think we’re excited about the direction we’re going, we still need to improve,” May-Johnson said. “I think that a rough start doesn’t make you believe any less than what you do, you believe in who we are. We believe in what we have, you know, we have good players.” Hernandez reiterated what her coach was saying, hoping to see the team fix what went wrong in their non-conference season to take back control of the game again. She said that playing against teams like UCLA three times in one week was hard, but it allowed the Bulldogs to adjust and get better offensively and defensively. “So, just really bettering ourselves and just taking any accountability and everything, and just trying to be better for the conference,” she said.

Going into this conference season, the Bulldog team has the mentality of a clean slate. May-Johnson said they’re ready to take whatever is thrown at them, and that the team has the right mindset to take on this conference season. “0-0, there’s no conference tournament at the end of the end of the conference. So it kind of just starts now, every game matters,” Hernandez said, complementing what May-Johnson said about entering this season with a clean slate. Hernandez and May-Johnson explained the hunger these Bulldogs have as they entered their weekend series against the top team in the Mountain West (MW) Conference, Boise State. Hernandez said the conference is a different type of mentality, so as the Bulldogs get ready to start this conference play, they’re adjusting to the level of play these upcoming teams put onto the field. “[They’re] absolutely hungry,” May-Johnson said. “I think that they’ve proven to themselves the last stretch, that they can score runs, that we can win games. I don’t think anybody’s going undefeated. I’ll just say that.” Going into the first game of their Mountain West Conference wasn’t an easy matchup for the ‘Dogs as they were swept by Boise State. Fresno State hosts Pacific on March 23 at Margie Wright Diamond and then hosts their first home conference series against San Diego State, March 25-27 at Margie Wright Diamond.

Julia Espinoza • The Collegian

Keahilele Mattson rounds second base in the doubleheader game against UC Davis on Feb.19, 2022, at Margie Wright Diamond.