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Sophomore pitcher Sierra Hyland pitched 18 innings in three games over the weekend, allowing just three runs in that span, but the Cal Poly softball team still dropped the series against Hawaii, following up a Friday loss by splitting Saturday’s games.
Hyland notched her 200th strikeout on Friday, becoming the second Mustangs pitcher to record two consecutive seasons with that amount or more. The right-hander has now pitched a team-high 215 innings this season – more than twice that of the runner-up.
“Hyland is used to that workload,” head coach Jenny Condon said. “She is physically and mentally capable of pitching an entire weekend the way she just did.”
Hyland allowed only one run in the first game on Saturday, keeping her team close despite low offensive production for most of the game. In the sixth inning, though, Cal Poly would end the drought and pile on six runs to take an 8-1 lead, which turned out to be the final score.
Freshman shortstop Chelsea Convissar was responsible for three of those runs after her powerful double to right center in the sixth inning. The freshman was aggressive at the plate this weekend, tallying a team-high five hits.
“I’ve been struggling with pitch selection, so I worked a lot on that this week,” Convissar said. “I think I did a much better job of just finding a good pitch to hit this weekend.”
Besides Convissar, the Mustangs offense was relatively dry this weekend, as it struggled to string together rallies other than the one in game two.
“We swung at bad pitches and let strikes go by,” Condon said. “We couldn’t make the necessary adjustments to win the first and third game that we needed to.”
Sophomore pitcher Lindsey Chalmers started the third game but was hit hard in the second and third innings before Hyland would come in to relieve her. The Mustangs simply played without the energy that they relied on in the game before, on both offense and defense.
“For the most part, we just didn’t have the fight that we usually do,” Hyland said. “As we go on, we will get better at maintaining it, which will really help us once playoffs get closer.”
Cal Poly would end up losing 4-1 in the final game of the weekend series.
The difference, Condon said, was less the offensive woes of the Mustangs but the dominant pitching performance of Hawaii’s Brittany Hitchcock. She would throw a one-run complete game shutout, keeping the ball low in the zone and creating lots of easy outs for her defense. Hitchcock was in control for the whole game, only allowing four hits and walking one, seldom allowing any scoring opportunities for Cal Poly.
“She had great command over all her pitches and really had the game in her hands,” Condon said.
The Mustangs played in their commemorative pink uniforms for both games in honor of StrikeOut Cancer Day, a fundraising initiative that donates the proceeds from the games to the Hearst Cancer Resource Center.
Next Saturday, the Mustangs will switch up their uniforms back to white and green when they head to Cal State Fullerton for a three-game series. With three more series remaining on the season, the Mustangs (22-23, 5-6) currently sit in sixth place in the Big West Conference.