Cal Poly softball (17-15, 1-2) took the final game of their three-game series against UC Riverside Saturday with a 2-1 walk-off victory, after being shut out by the Highlanders (25-12, 2-1) twice in a doubleheader at Bob Janssen field to start Big West Conference play.
“That’s what the Big West is all about,” head coach Jenny Condon said. “It’s going to be a battle every time you step on the field.”
Senior righthander Lindsey Chalmers (12-5) struck out five Highlanders while tossing a complete game, but UC Riverside was able to tally 10 hits in a 3-0 win.
UC Riverside scored the first run at the top of the third inning after advancing to second base on a steal and later scored on a single by first baseman Sarah Parten. The Highlanders were poised to break open the game at the top of the fifth inning, loading the bases with two outs, but Chalmers struck out the final batter.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Highlanders scored twice on three hits for the 3-0 lead. The Mustangs were never able to record more than one hit in an inning.
Cal Poly’s best chance to equalize occurred in the bottom of the fifth with junior catcher Makenna Young producing a leadoff single and senior shortstop Chelsea Convissar drawing a two-out walk. However, freshman left fielder Noellah Ramos struck out to end the inning.
Cal Poly left five runners on base throughout the first three innings, as the Highlanders loaded the bases against starting freshman righthander Dakota Casper at the top of the fourth inning. Sophomore righthander Shelby Jeffries replaced Casper, but walked the next Highlander, allowing them to score the first and only run of the game.
The Mustangs were unable to record a hit in the fourth and fifth inning. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Young singled it to center, as freshman pinch runner Sarah Wulff attempted to score from second base but was caught out at home.
With two outs at the bottom of the seventh inning, the Mustangs rallied as Convissar and Ramos both recorded singles, prompting a pitching change for the Highlanders.
“It was us figuring it out, but you can’t wait for the seventh inning to figure it out,” Convissar said. “I think we did a good job of staying in it, we’ve got to figure it out sooner.”
A wild pitch put Ramos and Convissar on second and third base, and senior third baseman Stephanie Heyward was walked. But with the bases loaded, sophomore first baseman Hailey Martin flied out to end the game, with UC Riverside taking the 1-0 win.
“We obviously need to score some runs,” Condon said. “We just couldn’t push one across. We’ve got to come back tomorrow and just keep swinging.”
With the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, UC Riverside’s second baseman Brittney Garcia overthrew her throw to first base, allowing Young to score for the walk-off 2-1 win.
In that inning, sophomore pinch runner Alyssa McKiernan had the chance to score from third base from a single by senior outfielder Amanda Sandoval, but was thrown out at home plate. Convissar drew a full-count walk to reload the bases to set the scene for Garcia’s error.
Chalmers earned the victory for Cal Poly by pitching a complete game and only allowing three hits and striking out five batters.
The Mustangs were held hitless in the first two innings against pitcher Tayler Misfeldt but was the first to score when Convissar hit an RBI double in the third inning. The Highlanders tied it up in the fifth on left fielder Seanna Garewal’s run-scoring triple.
The Mustangs hit the road for the first time in conference play when they visit Hawai’i April 6-7 for a three-game series.