Graig Mantle

A trio of pitchers who wield lethal fastballs, keep the ball in the park and stymie opposing bats?

Check.

A Big West Conference Player of the Year who finished second nationally among all Division I players in batting average and paced the conference in nine offensive categories?

Check.

A Big West Coach of the Year who has already surpassed the century mark for wins since coming to Cal Poly in 2005?

Check.

The Cal Poly softball team appears to have all the tools necessary for an NCAA Tournament run, one the program hopes begins when the Mustangs open regional play against BYU in Provo, Utah, at 2 p.m. today.

But in these uncharted waters – Cal Poly is in the tournament for the first time since moving to the Division I level in 1995 – nothing is guaranteed.

“This weekend, next weekend – all the teams,” Cal Poly head coach Jenny Condon said, “there’s so much parity that anybody can win. It’s a great bracket. I think as much as we’d like to play at home, we’re comfortable on the road.”

Because games cannot be played on BYU’s campus Sunday, the four teams in the Provo Regional – Cal Poly, BYU, seventh overall seed Arizona State and Southern Utah – will begin play a day sooner than 14 of the 16 regional sites. That meant the Mustangs had to fly out from Santa Barbara Airport on Tuesday afternoon.

But Cal Poly (39-15, 14-4), which wrapped up its first outright Big West title ever last Saturday, didn’t mind the early departure.

“It’s awesome,” Cal Poly senior center fielder Lisa Modglin said. “We (had) to leave a day earlier, but it really doesn’t matter. We’ll be ready to go. . We’ve been on the road most of the season anyway, so we’re already used to that.”

Indeed, a 19-6 record during a 25-game, 31-day road trip earlier this season doesn’t hurt in preparing the Mustangs for this weekend.

Modglin, who was named both Cal Poly’s Female Athlete of the Year and Big West Player of the Year on Tuesday, finished the regular season second in the country in both batting average (.488) and slugging percentage (.951). The Simi Valley native set single-season school records for average, hits (80), runs (56), RBI (44) and stolen bases (18) this year, also leading the Big West with 16 home runs.

And she’s displayed that kind of power in the leadoff role.

But as big as Modglin’s bat has been all year, her glove has been just as golden. She has not committed a single error all season.

“Her defense gets overlooked,” Condon said. “She’s fun to watch. She’s got speed, power, a great eye. I give credit to her. She stayed over the summer (of 2006) and conditioned. It’s amazing. We expect her to get a couple hits every game. They feed off the momentum that she provides in that leadoff spot.”

Leading off regional play will be Arizona State (49-15) and Southern Utah (29-29) at 11 a.m. today. The four teams involved will play a combined five games today and Friday to determine who has the right in the double-elimination regional to play Saturday for a spot in the round of 16.

As for Mountain West Conference champion BYU (41-18), the Cougars blasted 84 home runs this season – second in Division I with 1.42 per game.

But Cal Poly is not daunted by that because it split a pair of games with BYU during the regular season, losing 7-1 in February before winning 2-0 in March.

“It’s thin air in Utah,” Condon said. “But they’ve got great hitters. We’ve seen them, and hopefully we’ve prepared and got video on them and the more you study the hitters, you can pick apart their swing. But we don’t need to strike them out. We just want to put the ball in play.”

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