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Carlsen wants to end college career with bang
by Damian Tromerhauser
Mar 25, 2012 | 1130 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Contribute photo by Braden Villanueva, CSU Northridge Media Relations - Spanish Springs grad Jaci Carlsen is finishing up her senior season with Cal State Northridge.
Contribute photo by Braden Villanueva, CSU Northridge Media Relations - Spanish Springs grad Jaci Carlsen is finishing up her senior season with Cal State Northridge.
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Four years ago, Jaci Carlsen was helping the Spanish Springs softball team to its second of back-to-back state championship titles, also the second state crown in the program’s history. Now Carlsen, in her fourth year at Cal State Northridge, is attempting to help the Matadors with conference play set to begin.

While the Matadors have gotten off to a slow start, currently sitting at 5-21 on the season, Carlsen remains positive about her team’s hopes.

“The season is going alright so far,” Carlsen said. “It’s not going as well as we had planned or hoped. We’re definitely taking steps forward every single game we play though and every day at practice.”

If Carlsen has anything to say about how the remainder of the year goes on the diamond and the team’s hopeful turnaround, her goals will go a long way in achieving her expectations.

“For the rest of the season for myself I definitely want to bring up my batting average,” she said. “I just want to put the team in better scoring opportunities by getting on base. Maybe reaching higher school record levels for the records that I’m chasing right now. For the team, I just want to go out and win the Big West and just make it to the postseason because we definitely have the team to do it. I definitely think we’re good enough to do it, we just need to go out and play our game.”

It is that faith in herself and her teammates that has kept Carlsen optimistic despite Cal State Northridge’s early-season struggles. It is also that determination to become better and that desire to win that Carlsen’s former coach at Spanish Springs, Jeff Davidson, said makes her such a great player and teammate.

“Her intensity was just so great,” Davidson said. “Her will to win was amazing. That’s what made her so intense and special. She would do anything to help her team win. I can still remember in a game at state, I gave her the squeeze sign. I knew she wanted to hit and drive in the run, but she squeezed and we scored the winning run and we won the game. She would do anything it took in order for her team to win the game.

“You could put her anywhere on the field. One year she played third, one year she played short and two years she played catcher. She was just a complete player and a competitor. Wherever you needed her to be and whatever was best for the team and its ability to win, she was able to play for you. She was just a fierce competitor on the field.”

Carlsen is not short on accolades to show for her want to win or her play. After earning all-High Desert League and 4A State honors throughout her time at Spanish Springs, including being named the Player of the Year her senior season, Carlsen has continued to impress at Cal State Northridge. Carlsen has earned the recognition of being named to the 2010 and 2011 all-Big West first teams as well. Despite the individual acknowledgment, Carlsen still shares the credit with her team.

“It’s a great accomplishment, but the thing is though that it represents the team more than just myself,” Carlsen said. “It came from the whole team. It was great though to just go out and do well for our team and help our team and then be recognized personally, too.”

Having watched Carlsen rack up the awards in with the Purple and Teal, Davidson was not shocked at her achievements with the Matadors.

“Her success doesn’t surprise me at all,” Davidson said. “With her drive to compete and her all-around play, that doesn’t surprise me one bit. She earned league honors and state honors and Player of the Year when she was here. She’s an excellent hitter. She can hit for power and drive in runs and also for average. She has a great work ethic and she has the will to win. She was one of the most clutch players I’ve ever had while she was playing at Spanish Springs High School.”

Davidson was not the only one to take something away from Carlsen’s playing days with the Cougars.

“The thing I learned at Spanish Springs was just to have self-confidence in yourself,” Carlsen said. “You have to have self-confidence because you create it and whatever you do is what your outcome is going to be.”

Although Carlsen learned a lot at Spanish Springs, she has also enjoyed her time at Cal State Northridge.

“It’s been a great experience,” Carlsen said. “I’ve been happy to get out of Nevada and to get out of Spanish Springs just to see what else is out there and see something different and new. L.A. is a fun town to live in. There’s a lot to experience and there’s a lot of fun things to do all the time down here and the girls at Northridge have just been amazing every year.”

Carlsen said that over her four years with the Matadors it is tough to pick out one moment that stands out the most.

“I’m not sure what it would be,” Carlsen said. “There’s just been a bunch of memories and highlight moments that we’ve had as a team. One of them probably was just us fighting back my sophomore year and trying to get back to the postseason. That was a big one because we were down a bunch in the beginning of the season. The biggest highlight was probably recently playing in the Pride game against the USSSA Pride. It was just fun to play against the legends and the people that we watched when we were growing up. To be able to play against them and interact and just have fun with them was a great experience.”

While playing against the USSSA Pride, a team in the National Pro Fastpitch League, was an exciting moment for Carlsen, it was a rematch with a former teammate from this season that also stood out to her. With the Matadors facing off against Nevada in the San Diego Classic, Carlsen got a chance to step up to the plate against ex-Cougar ace Mallary Darby.

“It was an awesome experience,” Carlsen said. “When I stepped into the box it was hard to concentrate just because of the relationship that Mallary and I do have because we’ve been playing with each other since we were seven or eight years old. It was fun though. There were two at-bats. The first at-bat she got me. She got me with a change-up outside. My second at-bat though I got a double down the line. We both took it competitively and then after the game it was nice to see each other and talk.”

Despite all of these moments and memories, Carlsen, who plans to look into the police academy or to work with juveniles after graduating with a degree in criminal justice, said it is not her success on the field that is her largest accomplishment.

“To be named first team Big West two years and to get through it and try to lead the team to end up being successful and in a great spot after I leave is important but to play all four years and get done in four years is huge.” Carlsen said. “My biggest personal achievement definitely is being lined up to graduate this semester.”
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