SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The San Diego State softball team is in the midst of having the best season in program history.
They are led by first year head coach Stacey Niveman Deniz, who took over the team after 13 years as an Aztecs assistant coach. Like her predecessor Kathy Van Wyk, she also has big dreams brings.
"Obviously we have big aspirations of championships and winning lots of softball games."
So far so good, as this season has seen plenty of wins for the Aztecs. Right now they are 33 - 12 and ranked 22nd in the country.
"Honestly, there is just a lot of love of team, and we call ourselves a tribe and the tribe is strong."
Aztecs senior pitcher Maggie Balint says the team has really come together with all the new faces starting to gel. The rosters consists of a lot transfers mixed in with freshman, and it's a first time experience for the program.
"I think it's really cool as a program we are setting the standard high and really coming out here and just competing."
Coach Deniz has certainly paid her dues as a coach, but she also brings to the diamond a vast knowledge of the game from her playing days. That would include UCLA, and as a 3-time Olympian and gold medalist for team U.S.A.
"As a coach I think all those experiences, as a high level player, can bring you into a dugout with perspective. Having been there and done that as a player and obviously it doesn't hurt recruiting."
From a player to an assistant coach, and now the head coach, Deniz has had the opportunity to expand her leadership role and the results have shown up on the field.
"Stacey, as a whole, has really gone out there on a limb and really found herself as a coach," says Balint. "She really knows what she wants out this program."
"This is where I want to be. This is the school and the university I want to represent, and build something special here."
Nothing would be more special this season is to cap it off with a trip to the NCAA Tournament. A destination the Aztecs softball program hasn't seen since 2015.
"It's kind of the elephant in the room. I wouldn't say we directly talk about it, but everybody knows. If we go one and oh each and everyday we are in good shape."