SAN LUIS OBISPO – Senior righthander Sierra Hyland (above) set a new Big West Conference career strikeout record and finished with 13 total strikeouts against CSU Bakersfield as the 25th-ranked Cal Poly softball program opened a Saturday doubleheader at Bob Janssen Field with a 3-0 victory against the Roadrunners. Cal Poly, however, saw a nine-game winning streak snapped in game No. 2 as CSU Bakersfield scored seven times in the top of the first inning en route to an 11-8 decision.
Requiring just one strikeout to surpass the previous Big West Conference record of 846 career strikeouts established by UC Santa Barbara's Jennifer Davis (2004-07), Hyland struck out CSU Bakersfield's leadoff hitter – left fielder Kaylynn Burt – on three pitches to set a new career Big West record.
Hyland (14-5), who also moved within one shutout of matching the Mustang program career record of 33 set by All-America selection Desarie Knipfer (1995-98), finished with two strikeouts in the top of the first before striking out the CSU Bakersfield side in the second. She added two more strikeouts in the fifth and struck out the side once more in the sixth.
Hyland, who scattered four hits, walked one and didn't allow a Roadrunner to third base, threw 71 percent of her 131 pitches for strikes.
Offensively, Cal Poly (24-8) loaded the bases with one down in the bottom of the first against CSU Bakersfield starting righthander Lyndsay Klimenko (0-7) before sophomore right fielder Crimson Kaiser delivered the eventual winning runs with a base hit to score juniors Chelsea Convissar and Stephanie Heyward.
Held hitless during the second and third innings, the Mustangs loaded the bases once more in the fourth inning before senior second baseman Ashley Tornio furthered Cal Poly's lead to 3-0 with a sacrifice fly which plated Kaiser.
Both Kaiser and Heyward finished with a game high two hits during Saturday's opener.
During game No. 2, the Roadrunners produced seven runs in the top of a first inning that took 28 minutes to complete, an effort highlighted by a bases-clearing triple from third baseman Chris Hipa.
Cal Poly, meanwhile stranded the bases loaded to close the first before breaking through against CSU Bakersfield starting righthander Summer Evans (5-6) in the second. With two Mustangs on and none down, sophomore catcher Makenna Young laid down a bunt that was fielded and thrown away by Hipa at third base. The error allowed freshman first baseman Hailey Martin to score.
The Mustangs managed to load the bases again versus Evans in the second and Tornio produced a fielder's choice that brought home sophomore right fielder Sydney James for a 7-2 deficit.
CSU Bakersfield (5-18) tacked on two more runs in the top of the third. In the bottom half, Cal Poly managed to load the bases for a third successive inning as Martin singled before James and Young drew successive walks. Evans then hit Convissar to force home Martin before walking Tornio to bring in James. Heyward, however, ended the inning by hitting into a double play.
CSU Bakersfield extended its cushion back to seven runs in the fifth as designated player Selena Gonzalez and center fielder Julea Cavazos contributed run-scoring hits for an 11-4 Roadrunner lead.
Martin shortened the CSU Bakersfield lead to 11-5 in the sixth with a double that scored Kaiser.
Facing the six-run gap entering the last half of the seventh, Cal Poly loaded the bases before Heyward produced an RBI single, Hyland mustered a run-scoring sacrifice fly and Kaiser scored Tornio with a single. With the bases loaded and two down, however, Klimenko – who earned the save after tossing the final two innings of Game No. 2 – forced a pop up from sophomore pinch hitter Megan Nordin to end the game.
Game No. 2, which last three hours, nine minutes, featured 358 pitches with Cal Poly stranding 15 baserunners and CSU Bakersfield leaving 11 on.
Following a week break, Cal Poly opens Big West Conference play with a 1 p.m. home doubleheader versus UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, April 1.
Photo courtesy of Matt Aguirre.