Graig Mantle

The Cal Poly softball team will host its annual Mustang Classic tournament this weekend in a round-robin format through which the Mustangs will welcome a quartet of teams.

“It’s always great to host the Mustang Classic tournament,” said Cal Poly head coach Jenny Condon. “It’s a good opportunity for the community to come out and get excited about supporting the team, and it’s nice because the players don’t have to travel and get to sleep in their own beds.”

Coming to Cal Poly are Cal (7-5), Santa Clara (0-10), Sacramento State (1-3) and Alabama-Birmingham (8-5).

The Mustangs view the tournament as a good opportunity to continue the fruitful series against Santa Clara and Sacramento State, and also to even the score against Cal. They’ve never faced Alabama-Birmingham.

“It’s exciting to have a team like Cal, which is a good team from a good conference, involved in the tournament,” Condon said. “All of these teams will be a good test for our players, and this will further allow us to learn where we’re at and how we compare.”

Cal Poly (2-8) was off to a rough start, but wasn’t without its fair share of individual victories boosting team morale.

Somewhat of a surprise is Cal Poly’s leading hitter, Stephanie Correia, a freshman catcher who boasts team highs in batting average (.367), hits (11) and RBI (seven). She also owns a .467 slugging percentage and a .457 on-base percentage, as well as three multi-hit games.

Another standout is junior shortstop Melissa Pura, who was named Jan. 30 to the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award Watch List. She ranks among the top 10 conference players in a number of categories, and also leads the team in on-base percentage (.571) and slugging percentage (.636).

“While our start has been less than ideal, half of our schedule has been played against nationally ranked opponents and some of the top teams in the country,” Condon said. “Still, the Mustang Classic provides an opportunity to size up some good competition and make up some lost ground in bettering our record.”

Cal Poly has compiled a 96-63 record at Bob Janssen Field, the Mustangs’ home since its inaugural game in March 2001.

They’ll have their work cut out for them, however, as Cal freshman Sanoe Kekahuna is second in the Pac-10 Conference in RBI (19) this season and is on an eight-game hitting streak.

Santa Clara also features a formidable pitcher in Kaitlyn Rauschnot, who struck out five and threw more than 140 pitches in Santa Clara’s loss to Cal on Wednesday.

The first game of the Mustang Classic begins at 9 a.m., with Alabama-Birmingham facing Sacramento State.

Cal Poly’s first game is at 4:30 p.m. against Cal. Afterward, the Mustangs take on Santa Clara at 7 p.m. before challenging Sacramento State and Alabama-Birmingham at 4:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday.

Its last contest is against Cal at 11 a.m. Sunday.

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