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Freshman right-hander Sierra Hyland led the Mustangs to a 3-0 win against UC Riverside on Senior Day as she pitched a complete-game, seven-hit shutout and drove home every run with a pair of doubles at Bob Janssen Field on Saturday.
The final game of the season was not as significant as the Mustangs would have wanted, after Cal Poly was eliminated from Big West Conference championship contention with a series-opening split against UC Riverside on Friday. However, the 2013-14 campaign was the program’s best since it won the 2009 title.
Saturday’s victory marked the final collegiate game for seven seniors: third baseman Jillian Andersen, right fielder Cami Brown, catcher Mariah Cochiolo, center fielder Lauren Moreno, second baseman Ashley Romano, shortstop Kim Westlund and designated player Shea Williams.
“They came in every day and worked their tails off to turn this Cal Poly program around by creating a winning culture,” head coach Jenny Condon said, reflecting on the loss of the seniors.
Hyland had similar sentiments.
“All these seniors have meant so much to my development; they set an example every day on how to do things the right way,” she said.
Still, a talented group of underclassmen has emerged this year, which was demonstrated on Saturday in the early going. Junior left fielder Emily Ceccacci set the plate with a single, followed by another single by freshman designated player Courtney Tyler. Hyland then unloaded the bases with the first of her two doubles — those two runs turned out to be the only runs the Mustangs needed against the Highlanders.
In the circle, Hyland (26-8) made her Cal Poly single-season record 34th start and 42nd appearance, and was once again dominant. She conceded two hits through the first four frames.
She is one of 10 finalists for the inaugural National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy, as she boasts 263 strikeouts, 12 shutouts, 264.1 innings pitched and a 1.51 ERA. She also hit a team-leading .366 in 2014, proving herself one of the conference’s most dangerous dual threats.
As a team, Cal Poly posted its highest overall and Big West win totals with 33 and 14, respectively. The Mustangs also finished 14-6 at home this season.