In 2017 the Cal Poly softball team went 38-21 and returned to the postseason after failing to do so for eight consecutive seasons. The team reached its highest win total in eight years on the strength of their two-headed pitching attack of former Mustangs’ pitcher Sierra Hyland and senior Lindsey Chalmers, who posted a 1.10 ERA and 1.66 ERA, respectively.
Hyland and Chalmers had 37 wins together, one win shy of the total wins the team recorded.
After the team’s historic season ended, Hyland was drafted fourth overall by the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch Draft.
Hyland has spent her fifth year at Cal Poly as a student assistant for the team, having already played the four-year maximum. She will be graduating in June.
Now, Chalmers is back as the clear number one pitcher for the Mustangs. Chalmers leads a young pitching staff featuring freshman Dakota Casper, sophomore Steffi Best and sophomore Shelby Jeffries.
Chalmers’ 2.32 ERA is the best on the staff by almost one run. She has also pitched more than 140 innings so far, which is more than double the number of innings Casper, the number two starter, has pitched this season.
According to head coach Jenny Condon, Chalmers knew going into this season she had to be the ace on the team.
“I think their [expectations] were on her,” Condon said. “Sierra and Lindsey had a great season last year and our team did really well. With the absence of Sierra, I think Lindsey put it on herself that she now had to be that person.”
Senior third baseman Stephanie Heyward said she also realizes the expectations placed on Chalmers, but said she is up to the challenge.
“I think Lindsey has done really well,” Heyward said. “I know it probably is really hard coming in after Sierra’s been the main pitcher but Lindsey’s always been great in all four years here. I think this year she’s really proven that she deserves that starting spot.”
Condon is trying to take the pressure off Chalmers by insisting the pitching staff is a unit and is not just Chalmers.
“Our message to Lindsey and the pitching staff this year has been, ‘It’s a staff,’ and we’re going to figure it out how to do it together,” Condon said. “I just think at times she tries to do everything to take that on herself and that’s always the best way to go. But I think she’s done a great job for us. When she’s stayed calm and stays in the moment and throws her pitches, she’s unstoppable.”
Chalmers has stayed positive herself and is just trying to stick to what she knows.
“I do feel that there’s a little more pressure, but I’m trying not to let that get to me,” Chalmers said. “I’m just throwing how I know how to throw and so far, it’s worked out pretty well.”
Condon and Heyward said they value Chalmers’ consistency on the mound. Chalmers already passed the total amount of wins she had last season with two weeks left in the regular season.
“You can’t really learn your mound presence,” Heyward said. “I think she’s always [come] in and [has] been calm and relaxed and she looks very confident.”
Condon echoed Heyward’s sentiments about Chalmers’ cool composure in the circle.
“She’s always calm and composed,” Condon said. “She’s really ‘Even Steven’ in the circle. Not too high, not too low. I think her steadiness has really been a great thing for us. I know that we definitely have a little bit more of a calming presence when Lindsey is in the circle.”
Chalmers has stayed in contact with Hyland, who still helps out with the team. Hyland helps the pitching staff and often shows up to practice while she waits for the Bandits’ season to start.
“[Hyland] does give me some pointers, some tips here and there,” Chalmers said. “Whether it be on pitching like my motion or just game strategy. She’s a mentor to me.”
Chalmers is working to pass this spirit on and is making an effort to mentor the rest of the young pitching staff.
“One of our freshman pitchers, Dakota [Casper], me and her talk a lot about pitching and just softball in general and even school,” Chalmers said. “I’ve been able to help her a lot, answer a lot of questions and we’ve become really good friends from it.”
Condon said she is also appreciative of Chalmers’ leadership.
“I think Lindsey has been a great mentor to the other great pitchers,” Condon said. “Just her work ethic and how she shows up and how she manages her successes and her failures. She just has been a good role model and she’s led the way both on and off the field and has been a sounding board for them. When things get crazy or when things get hard, they can go to her and ask questions.”
Reflecting back, Chalmers said her favorite part of playing softball is creating memories with the team. She loves traveling with her team and going through the ups and downs.
Despite her success on the diamond, Chalmers is looking to finish school and get a job outside of softball in San Luis Obispo or in the San Francisco Bay Area when she graduates.
“I’ve been playing a really long time and I’m ready to move on,” Chalmers said.
Until then, Cal Poly’s success this season will be dependent on Chalmers. Fans will get to see her pitch for the last time at home May 5-6 against Cal State Fullerton, where Chalmers could potentially pitch all three games.
“She’s been our go-to and she will continue to be our go-to,” Condon said. “She’s usually throwing the first game of the series and then sometimes in a second-game of a double header, she’ll come in and shut it down.”