All posts by Mariana Osorio

Brendan Hendriks played the role of hero for the Dons on Friday, hitting a walk-off home run in USF’s upset win over No. 2 Cal State Fullerton. (Photo by Dons Athletics)

Baseball: Brendan Hendriks’ 19th-Inning Homer Lifts Dons

USF went up early in Sunday afternoon’s game at No. 2 Cal State Fullerton, but couldn’t maintain the lead and lost the game 5-1. The loss was the second in the Dons three-game series against the Titans. San Francisco won the first match 6-5 in a grueling 19 innings, but was defeated 11-0 in the second game. This is USF’s second series loss of the year, and the defeat on Sunday drops their overall record to 3-4.

The Dons scored first in the third game of the series as freshman second baseman Matt Sinatro stole third base and went home after a missed catch. CSU Fullerton picked up the scoring from there, however, and soon went up 4-1 off of two two-run home runs by J.D. Davis and Greg Velazquez. Though they got men on base, USF was not able to bring anyone home and gave up another run to bring the game to the final score of 5-1. Titans pitcher Grahamm Wiest who showed the Dons a fierce battle all game long, striking out 10 and allowing just five hits in nine innings.

On Saturday, the Dons had an even worse outing, falling to the Titans 11-0 after an epic 19-inning game the night before. CSU Fullerton pitcher Justin Garza threw seven shutout innings while only giving up 5 hits, and accounted for 12 of his team’s 16 strikeouts.

“For us to strikeout 16 times, that’s just a collapse mentally and physically offensively, Dons head coach Nino Giarratano told “We were a little tired. It’s not an excuse, they should have been just as tired as us. They were just more prepared to play every day and we need to get there.”

Just a day before, the Dons had managed to pull out a win against CSU Fullerton in a drawn out game that lasted for 19 innings. The Titans opened the scoring in the third inning off of a double-RBI by third baseman Matt Chapman, who was then batted in himself, bringing the score to 3-0.

The Dons were able to score two runs in the fourth off of an RBI home run by junior center fielder Bradley Zimmer, but they were matched by two CSU Fullerton runs in the bottom of the fourth, which further extended the Titans’ lead. USF bounced back in the sixth, however, and was able to tie the game off of another two RBI’s from Zimmer, who proceeded to score a run of his own off of a flyout to left field.

The scoring ended up staying locked at 5-5 and went into extra innings, where both teams went scoreless until junior designated hitter Brendan Hendriks ended the extravaganza with a walk-off home run that sailed over the right field wall and won the game for the Dons. Redshirt senior Houston Hibberd got the win on the mound for USF, pitching seven hitless innings while striking out six. Hibberd’s rock solid performance earned him West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week honors.

The score of the Dons’ Feb. 25 game at Stanford was not available at press time. San Francisco will now head north to take on the Sacramento State Hornets on Friday, Feb. 28 at 2:00 p.m.

Kruize Pinkins celebrates with teammates Mark Tollefson and Chris Adams. Pinkins was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week. (Photo Courtesty of Hamis Al Sharif/Foghorn)

Men’s Basketball: Pinkins Named Player of the Week As Dons Beat Broncos

With the season nearing its end, every game is becoming a must-win for the Dons. They seemed well aware of that on Saturday, when they pulled through for a tough 69-63 victory over the Santa Clara Broncos at the Leavey Center. The exciting win moved the Dons to 16-10 overall and 9-5 in West Coast Conference (WCC) play. Meanwhile, Santa Clara’s loss dropped them to 11-16 (4-10 WCC).

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Men’s Baseball: Freshman Baseball Players Prepare for Season

USF has brought in a large pool of talent for the 2014 season, and these three freshmen are ready for the games to begin. 

Matt Sinatro

For freshman utility player Matt Sinatro, a big part of his excitement for the upcoming baseball season goes beyond receiving some playing time.

“One of the reasons I decided to come to USF besides the city was the great coach staff,” Sinatro said. “I knew it was the right fit because they care about you as a person rather than how you perform on the field. It was really warm and welcoming.”

Sinatro is no stranger to the expectations of playing college baseball. His father, Matt Sr., coached under former Major League Baseball manager Lou Piniella for 19 seasons.

The Sammamish, Wash. native accumulated a batting average of .365 during his senior year at Skyline High School, also while leading the team to two conference championships. Sinatro is ready to showcase his abilities for the Dons, and he also has kind words to say about his experiences so far.

“The foundation that’s built here is driven to make you a better person rather than how you perform on the field,” Sinatro said.  “It’s really nice to be a part of that.”

Despite having a rigorous schedule of classes combined with practice, his passion for the game is palpable as he describes the sport with fondness.

“What I like most is the atmosphere that surrounds baseball,” Sinatro said. “It’s definitely a team game and it’s really cool knowing your teammates have your back. It really brings people together.”

Nico Giarratano    Having grown up with his dad as USF’s head baseball coach, Nico Giarratano is especially proud to be a Don.Giarratano is a San Francisco native who was a member of St. Ignatius College Prep’s team that went to the Central Coast Section championship in 2012. He was also named to the San Francisco All-City team and hit .330 to go with 20 RBI’s for the 2012 season. Giarratano is not intimidated by the fact he will be playing under his father, Nino Giarratano, at USF. In fact, he is looking forward to it.

“I’ve been around USF, its culture and its baseball team pretty much my whole life,” Giarratano said. “So growing up, it’s been a dream of mine to come here and play under my dad and it’s been a great experience so far.”

He also has high hopes for the team this season. He maintains that despite hoping they go far, his positivity comes from what is instilled in him and the rest of the team.

“Like we say each day, ‘focus on the important things,’ Giarratano said. “‘Success will come. Strive for excellence and greatness will come.’”

Andy Frakes

Right-handed pitcher Andy Frakes had a rough introduction to baseball, but now he cannot imagine doing anything else.

“In my first game ever I got hit in the chest with a line drive and wanted to quit immediately but I got up and finished the game,” Frakes said. “I have never thought about giving up the game since. I love it.”

Like his teammates, the Sherman Oaks, Calif. native thinks highly of the roster for this year’s baseball team.

“We have a great group of guys that I think have not only the ability but the character to do great things as a team,” Frakes said.

Frakes attended Crespi High School in his hometown, where he enjoyed much success as a pitcher. In his high school career, he put up an excellent 1.94 ERA, made the All-Mission League First Team twice, and once was named the Mission League Player of the Year. Like other Dons freshman, Frakes has found his expectations of playing college baseball have shifted as he has gotten more practice and has become closer to his teammates.

“As a freshman coming in at the beginning all I wanted to do was play baseball,” Frakes said. “Now as the season comes closer my ideas have completely changed. I want to win with this group of guys.”

Women’s Tennis: Dons Split Matches in Arizona, Lose to UC Berkeley

The Dons bounced back from two consecutive losses to beat the New Mexico State Aggies 5-2 on Monday, Feb. 3 in the second of two matches at the Robson Tennis Center in Arizona. It was a welcome return to winning form for USF, which got victories on courts one through four from freshman Thyra Taune, sophomore Andrea Ka, sophomore Sofia Holmberg, and junior Marina Nikolic. Taune and Ka were especially impressive, taking their matches by scores of 6-1, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-1, respectively.

San Francisco also came out on top in all three doubles matches. The tandem of Ka and Nikolic were dominant in their 6-2 win, and Nikolic and junior Milica Hadzi-Tanovic completed the doubles sweep on court three.

On Sunday, Feb. 2, the Dons dropped their second match in a row when they faced the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, Ariz. Though it was the second game of the day for the Wildcats, they did not ease up and maintained their focus against USF, ultimately winning 6-1.

Sofia Holmberg defeated Arizona in her doubles match with Thyra Taune. (Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics)

Sofia Holmberg defeated Arizona in her doubles match with Thyra Taune. (Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics)

There were bright areas for the Dons (5-2) in both the singles and doubles matches. In singles, Taune defeated Arizona’s Lacey Smyth 6-4, 6-4. Unfortunately, San Francisco couldn’t come up with a victory in any other singles matches. Sophomore Brooke Irish lost 6-3, 6-2 to Laura Oldham, and Holmberg was beat handily by Akilah James, 6-1, 6-1. Nikolic and Hadzi-Tanovic nearly came away victorious in their matches, but they were both eventually defeated in four and three sets, respectively.

In doubles matches, the duo of Holmberg and Taune bested Arizona’s Smyth and Shayne Austin. Still, the Dons could not capitalize on this win, losing matches on courts two and three.

On Friday, the Dons faced off against the University of California, Berkeley Bears. Though they came into the match riding a four-game winning streak, the Dons were handed their first loss of the season against the Bears at Berkeley’s Channing Tennis Courts. USF was unable to come up with victories in both the doubles and singles matches, allowing UC Berkeley to win 7-0.

In the singles matches, Hazdi-Tanovic went against UC Berkeley’s Alicia Duranteau, ultimately coming up short. Taune and freshman Genevieve McCloskey also fought to tilt their matches in favor of the Dons, but none were able to garner a single victory. On court three, Ka jumped out to a lead, but the Bears’ Klara Fabikova overcame the early deficit to win 6-4, 6-3. Another close match was Nikolic’ battle against Meagan Manasse, which she wound up losing 7-5, 6-3.

In the doubles competition, USF was no match for UC Berkeley, losing 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in the three matches. The final loss in the doubles sweep came when McCloskey and Hadzi-Tanovic faltered against the Bears’ Cecilia Estlander and Kelly Chui, losing 6-1.

The next game for the Dons will be at UC Davis on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 12:00 p.m.

Women’s Tennis: Dons Crush UCSB and Cal Poly, Improve to 4-0

Marina Nikolic won all of her singles and doubles matches over the weekend, and her consistent play has been central to the Dons’ perfect start to the season. (Courtesy of Dons Athletics)

Marina Nikolic won all of her singles and doubles matches over the weekend, and her consistent play has been central to the Dons’ perfect start to the season. (Courtesy of Dons Athletics)


The Dons gave it their all as they took down the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos on Sunday, Jan. 26 in Santa Barbara, Calif., ultimately winning 7-0. The host Gauchos were no match for the Dons in their season home opener, and USF (4-0) stayed unbeaten with the win, while UCSB moved to 0-2.

USF’s commanding victory came in the midst of adverse weather conditions. Heavy rain caused a delay of over an hour, but once play began, not even rain or cold weather was enough to bring down the Dons. In the doubles, there was no stopping them as sophomore Andrea Ka and junior Marina Nikolic won 6-3, as did the team of junior Milica Hadzi-Tanovic and freshman Genevieve McCloskey.

The singles matches were competitive, but USF still prevented UCSB from registering a win. Perhaps the most closely contested match of the day came between sophomore Brooke Irish and the Gauchos’ Melissa Baker, which Irish eventually took in three sets (6-3, 4-6, 10-2). Another notable singles match was between Nikolic and UCSB’s Stacy Yam, with Nikolic taking control and winning 6-2, 7-6.

The day before their match at UCSB, the Dons put forth another dominant performance that resulted in a convincing win. San Francisco fought hard and eventually defeated Cal Poly 5-2 on Saturday, Jan. 25 in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

It was the opening game of the season for Cal Poly, and they made sure to give the Dons their best effort, especially in the doubles matches. Freshman Tyra Taune and sophomore Sofia Holmberg came up short against the Mustangs’ Jennifer Cornea and Ane McPike, losing 6-2. However, the Dons fared well on courts two and three, and Hadzi-Tanovic and McCloskey’s 7-6 win over Mika Padmanabhan and Sayaka Tsugai clinched the Dons’ victory. In the singles matches, Taue, Irish, Ka, and Nikolic were able to edge their competition.

Following victories against UCSB and Cal Poly, the Dons will look to continue their red-hot start to the season when they face the University of California, Berkeley Bears on Friday, Jan. 31 at 1:30 p.m.

Volleyball: Dons Outdueled By Saint Mary’s and Pacific

It was a rough week for the Dons, who dropped a pair of road matches against Saint Mary’s and Pacific to fall to 11-15 (7-9 WCC) on the season. On Saturday, the Dons had difficulty matching the Gaels’  offensive firepower, losing in straight sets at McKeon Pavilion.

The Dons hung tight in the first set, and were tied with St. Mary’s at 16-16 before the Gaels took control to take the set 25-20.

USF got off to a quick start in the second set, taking the lead 6-4 on a kill from freshman outside hitter Katarina Pilepic. The match was later tied at 11-11 before a 7-1 put the Gaels in the driver’s seat. Saint Mary’s (15-9, 11-5) won the set 25-17 and continued to shut down the Dons in the third set, which they took by the same score.

Junior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik finished with a team-high eight kills for San Francisco, and senior setter Mackenzie Murtagh led the Dons with 17 assists. In the match, the Dons had just 29 total kills compared to 46 for Saint Mary’s.

Thursday’s Nov. 14 game in Stockton, Calif. also saw the Dons struggle offensively against the Pacific

Tigers.The Dons won the first set 25-23 in a close set that featured 15 ties. With the two teams locked at 23, kills from senior outside hitter Malina Terrell and Pilepic gave the Dons a 1-0 lead.

Pacific kept its composure despite the early deficit, and took the second set 25-20 after claiming the lead for good at 9-8. In the crucial third set, the Dons fell flat, and Pacific led all the way to emerge with a 25-18 win.

In the fourth set, dominant play from Pacific’s Gillian Howard put the Tigers ahead 17-9 and had them smelling victory. However, the Dons still had some fight left in them, and a USF comeback brought the score to 21-18. Junior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik kept the Dons alive with a much-needed kill that got them within 24-22, but Pacific (12-15, 5-11) secured the final point on the next play, and the Tigers walked off the court with a 3-1 win.

The Dons have two games left in their season, both of them home matches. USF plays Pepperdine on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7:00 p.m., and finishes up the year with a match against Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 1:00 p.m.