Just one game above .500 and looking for a chance to jump up a few spots in the Big West Conference standings, the Cal Poly softball team hosted UC Riverside for a weekend series and swept all three games.
This series is the last one of the regular season for the Mustangs. Ending it with a sweep puts them at 6-3 in their final three series to finish the season on a high note.
In the first of two games on Friday, Cal Poly (27-23, 10-11 Big West) jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after the bottom of the second. Junior pitcher Sierra Hyland scored an unearned run and sophomore third baseman Stephanie Heyward scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0 after the first inning. Heyward later singled in the bottom of the second to score junior first baseman Courtney Tyler and push the advantage to three runs.
The Highlanders (32-22-1, 8-13) scored a run in the top of the fourth, but couldn’t overcome strong play in the circle by Hyland.
Following the 3-1 victory, the Mustangs managed another low-scoring win in the second of Friday’s games. This time, the game was tied 1-1 after the Highlanders opened the game with a run in the first inning before Mustangs’ senior first baseman Breana West doubled to plate Heyward and give Cal Poly its first run. Later on in the bottom of the third, Hyland hit a sac fly to bring home sophomore infielder Chelsea Convissar, giving the Mustangs their second and final run of the game.
That run proved to be the difference and the Mustangs clinched the series with a 2-1 win. Sophomore pitcher Lindsey Chalmers notched her 10th win of the season in the circle with three strikeouts.
On Saturday, the Highlanders and Mustangs were again going back and forth in a low scoring affair. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the tenth inning when West hit a single and Heyward scored on a fielding error. Hyland added another three strikeouts in the game to finish with her 15th win of the season.
The 2016 season was one of improvement for the Mustangs. They finished five wins better than last season and went from last to fifth in conference. Hyland, despite missing a fifth of the season because of an injury, led the conference in ERA (1.19) by a wide margin and was only one strikeout away from tying for best in conference (194).
With another offseason of development for Hyland as well as improvements from Heyward and Chalmers, the Mustangs will again have a talented stable of pitchers to run the Big West conference next spring.