The Cal Poly softball team will begin its journey for a Big West Championship this Saturday.
Each of the last five seasons, the Mustangs finished no lower than No. 3 in Big West, including two postseason berths and two conference titles.
Cal Poly began the season facing 12 difficult, top-25 ranked opponents in. The competition proved too much as the team went 0-12 in those games.
Despite a difficult start to the regular season schedule, things look more promising than ever for the Mustangs now. In the preseason coach’s poll, Cal Poly was selected to finish first in the Big West with three first place votes and 54 points overall. Close behind was UC Davis with 51 points, and Cal State Northridge with 41 points.
The Mustangs will also see the return of Big West Field Player of the Year, Anna Cahn. Cahn led all Big West hitters with a .393 batting average and a .626 slugging percentage. She was also named to the all-conference first team as a utility player and to the second team as a pitcher.
Cal Poly will return with three other all-conference players, as well. Sophomore pitcher Rebecca Patton and sophomore right fielder Dana Perez both made it to the second team, while junior catcher Stephanie Correia earned honorable mention.
Last season, early in the conference schedule the Mustangs led the Big West race by wining nine of 11 — seven in a row — with series victories over UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State.
But, the Mustangs slipped from first after losing to Big West co-champions UC Davis and Cal State Northridge. The Mustangs finished the season in third place, posting a 12-9 conference record, just three games back of first place.
Cal Poly’s 23-24 season record marked the first time in Condon’s seven years as coach that the team finished with a record below .500.
The team finished first in the Big West with a 3.09 ERA and third with a .368 slugging percentage, though just batting .255 as a team.
Cal Poly will open up Big West play with series against last season’s last-place team, UC Riverside. In their 2010 campaign, the Highlanders finished seventh in the Big West with an overall record of 22-32. However, in its Big West opener, UC Riverside defeated Cal Poly 10-0, its largest loss of the season, and won the series 2-1.
The Mustangs then go on to play UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Fullerton. Later in play, the team will face big games against Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge and UC Davis, before finishing the season against Pacific.
The Mustangs’ conference schedule will begin with a double-header at UC Riverside on April 2 at noon and 2:00 p.m.