Cal Poly Looks to Climb Back in Title Race April 22-23 at CSUN

Cal Poly Looks to Climb Back in Title Race April 22-23 at CSUN

COMPLETE SERIES PREVIEW (pdf)

SAN LUIS OBISPO – With three of its final four regular season series taking place on the road, the Cal Poly softball program looks to climb back into the Big West Conference championship race when visiting CSUN for a three-game, April 22-23 set. The series opens with a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday, April 22 and closes with 1 p.m. matchup on Sunday, April 23. Cal Poly (28-13, 4-5) tumbled from first place in the Big West standings to fifth last week after being swept at home by conference leader Long Beach State (19-20-1, 7-2). The Mustangs, however, trail the 49ers by three games, second-place Cal State Fullerton (23-18, 6-3) by only two and third-place CSUN (25-15, 5-4) by just a single game with 12 to play. The Mustangs, whose staff ERA of 1.15 ranks third among 291 NCAA Division I programs, play their final three series against the bottom three programs in the Big West standings – UC Davis (18-23, 2-7), Hawai'i (25-15, 4-5) and UC Riverside (21-17. 3-6).

FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS THIS WEEK: Live stats for all three of Cal Poly's April 22-23 series games at CSUN will be available via GoPoly.com HERE.

CAL POLY VERSUS CSUN: Swept at CSUN two years ago, the Mustangs seek their first series victory against the Matadors since taking two of three games in 2014. Cal Poly's last series win at CSUN came during a 2009 sweep en route to the Big West title. The third most frequent opponent in Cal Poly's Division I history, CSUN leads the series, 39-26.

CLOSE, BUT ...: Cal Poly's 13 losses this season have occurred by 24 total runs (1.9 per game) with only two of the program's defeats coming by more than two runs. Five of Cal Poly's defeats have occurred in extra innings and three have occurred versus ranked programs.

HYLAND'S SENIOR SEASON A DOMINATING EFFORT: Becoming the first player in program history to record 200-plus strikeouts in three different seasons after fanning seven Cal State Fullerton hitters (April 9) marked the latest notable effort for senior righthander Sierra Hyland (17-8), who enters Saturday's doubleheader at CSUN having allowed just four earned runs in her last 46.0 innings whiling ranking eighth among NCAA Division I pitchers in ERA (0.90), 11th in strikeouts (206), 11th in walks allowed per seven innings (0.90), 14th in shutouts (seven), 14th in hits allowed per seven innings (4.07) and 46th in strikeouts per seven innings (8.1). Among Big West Pitchers, Hyland also leads with her 17 victories, .166 opposing batting average and 178.2 innings pitched. Hyland, who opened the year by tossing a no-hitter versus Purdue (Feb. 10) and a perfect game against Creighton (Feb. 11) to earn the first of her two USA Softball National Player of the Week awards this year (she was also named NFCA National Pitcher of the Week on March 21), features a 9.0.1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, averages 1.15 strikeouts per inning and – having matched her career high with 15 strikeouts versus Liberty (Feb. 19) – produced seven double-digit strikeout games. Hyland, who owns one-hitters versus Middle Tennessee State (March 4) and No. 9 Oklahoma (March 17) and a two-hitter versus UConn (March 11), has walked just 23 batters all season. A conference record 16-time career Big West Pitcher of the Week honoree and two-time Player of the Week selection (her 18 total honors are also a Big West record in any sport), Hyland – offensively – leads Cal Poly with seven multi-RBI games while ranking second with 10 multi-hit games a .325 (40-for-123) batting average. A .322 (184-for-572) career hitter who ranks sixth all-time at Cal Poly, Hyland is also fifth among Big West hitters this year with 29 RBI.

THIS WEEK IN SIERRA HYLAND: Having already set a new Big West Conference career strikeout record (currently 896) and new Cal Poly program records for victories (75), appearances (148), starts (110), innings pitched (859.1) and saves (six), Sierra Hyland requires just one more shutout to overtake the Mustang career record of 33 set by All-America selection Desarie Knipfer (1995-98). With four more strikeouts, she'll also become the first player in the 33-year history of Big West softball to reach 900 career strikeouts.

CHALMERS IN NATIONAL FORM: Without a sub-3.00 ERA at any point during her first two seasons, junior righthander Lindsey Chalmers (10-5) takes a 1.39 ERA that ranks 33rd among NCAA Division I players into Saturday's doubleheader at CSUN. Chalmers is also 40th nationally in hits allowed per seven innings (4.65) and second among Big West pitchers with a .184 opposing batting average. Having conceded just 18 earned runs and eight extra-base hits in 90.1 innings this season, Chalmers has struck out a career best nine hitters in a seven-inning game four times in 2017. She struck out 10 in nine innings versus Long Beach State (April 14).

KAISER'S SUPERB SOPHOMORE EFFORT: Sophomore right fielder Crimson Kaiser came to the plate just twice as a freshman in 2016 but, with 28 hits in 88 at-bats this season, she ranks third in Cal Poly's lineup with a .318 batting average. Kaiser, who has started during 31 of her 32 appearances, has reached base safely in 17 of Cal Poly's last 21 games.

CONVISSAR ENJOYING BREAKOUT ROLE: A career .243 hitter entering the year who had batted higher than .375 at just one point during her first two seasons, junior shortstop Chelsea Convissar comes into Saturday's doubleheader at CSUN ranked 10th among Big West hitters with a .342 (38-for-111) mark. Convissar, who has hit safely 25 times this season, leads Cal Poly with 12 multi-hit games.

MUSTANGS MOVE RUNNERS ALONG: The Mustangs feature the Big West Conference's top four leaders in sacrifice bunts with Cal Poly having produced 69 successful sacrifices in 41 games (the remaining seven Big West Conference programs have combined for 161 sacrifices). Senior second baseman Ashley Tornio leads the Big West with 13 sacrifices and, as a team, Cal Poly successfully advances baserunners 48.0 (314-for-654) percent of the time.

MUSTANGS FACE NATION'S FINEST IN 2017: In what has become a hallmark of 13th-year head coach Jenny Condon's tenure, Cal Poly will again contest one of the more competitive schedules in Division I during the 2016 season. In total, seven of Cal Poly's opening 28 games occurred against programs ranked or receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 poll (ranking from date of game).