Krysten Cary wasn’t going to leave anything up to chance. When the sophomore first baseman slid head first into third base at Bob Janssen Field on Sunday afternoon, she set the tone of urgency for her Cal Poly softball team on its way to a much-needed, 4-2 win over UC Davis.
Her second-inning triple down the right-field line ignited the Mustangs to a 2-1 Big West Conference series victory that kept the light switch from being turned off on their somewhat dimmed postseason hopes.
“At that point, it was just a matter of somebody needing to step up and get everyone going,” Cary said. “We just needed somebody to kind of light the fire so that it could be a domino effect and everyone could follow up.”
Two batters later, freshman catcher Stephanie Correia belted a sacrifice fly to center field to give Cal Poly its first score and a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
A day after surrendering a 6-2 lead by giving up seven runs in the sixth inning of a 9-7 loss, holding on to the advantage was even more of a focal point for the Mustangs (22-21, 10-8), who won the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader 6-5.
“They really responded well,” Cal Poly head coach Jenny Condon said.
In the seventh, freshman left-hander Anna Cahn – who gave up the nine runs through 5 2/3 innings in Saturday’s nightcap – surrendered a two-RBI homer to catcher Ashley Johnson.
Cahn, though, remained in the game, and after shortstop Jessica Gonzalez lined a pitch right back at her, she was able to gather the ball after it rattled off her shin and rifled it to first base for the final out.
“It was great to see her be able to shut the door,” Condon said. “The last couple losses, we’ve really struggled with that.”
Through what Condon called “great, timely hitting,” Cahn’s efforts were complemented by junior second baseman Stephanie Tam, who was 3 for 3, senior designated player Sarah Iwata, who went 2 for 3, junior shortstop Melissa Pura, who blasted a two-RBI homer in the fifth, and Cary, who homered to center in the fourth.
The fourth-inning blast by Cary, who finished 2 for 3, prompted the Aggies (23-34, 8-10) to relieve starter Alex Holmes (7-14).
Pura brought her career RBI total to 103, two shy of Lisa Modglin’s all-time school mark.
Cahn (7-13) struck out five and walked none.
The Mustangs, who’ll likely need to finish in the Big West’s top two or three to warrant postseason consideration from the tournament selection committee, remained in a three-way tie for third place with Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge – each of which also won Sunday. Second-place UC Santa Barbara, however, lost, and resides a mere game better than its third-place counterparts.
Cal Poly, which improved to 12-2 at home, will conclude its regular season through a three-game series hosting UC Riverside, beginning with a doubleheader opening at 4 p.m. Friday.
“Hopefully (the players feel) a sense of urgency, but not panic,” Condon said.