COMPLETE NISC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW (pdf)
NISC CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND BRACKET (pdf)
NISC TOURNAMENT SITE
LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Cal Poly softball program failed to concede a run and allowed just seven hits in wrapping up the National Invitational Softball Championship Region 1 title in three victories and the Mustangs continue their postseason run at the May 21-24, double-elimination NISC Championship Round in Lynchburg, Va. Hosted by Liberty at Kamphuis Field, Cal Poly (37-19) – enjoying its highest win total in eight years – opens play versus first-time opponent Lamar (31-29) on Sunday, May 21 at 1 p.m. PT. A victory versus Lamar advances Cal Poly to a Tuesday, May 22 winner's bracket matchup versus Illinois State (33-22) at 10 a.m. PT. A loss to Lamar relegates the Mustangs to a Tuesday elimination-game matchup versus a yet-to-be-determined opponent at 4 p.m. PT. Joining Cal Poly, Lamar, Illinois State and Liberty (41-23) among the six regional champions are Kennesaw State (39-18) and Weber State (35-19-1). By virtue of having a higher rank in the May 14 edition of the NCAA RPI, Kennesaw State (No. 49) and Illinois State (No. 57) received opening-round byes (Cal Poly ranks third in the field at No. 63). The NISC Championship Round schedule is below and the complete tournament bracket can be found HERE. The Mustangs, who finished in a fifth-place tie in the Big West standings, enter the NISC Championship Round ranked second among 291 Division I programs with a 1.20 staff ERA.
NISC Championship Round – Lynchburg, Va. (Liberty Host)
Sunday, May 21 (All Times PT)
Game 1: Cal Poly (37-19) vs. Lamar (31-29), 1 p.m.
Game 2: Weber State (35-19-1) vs. Liberty (41-23), 4 p.m.
Monday, May 22
Game 3: Kennesaw State (39-18) vs. Weber State-Liberty winner, 7 a.m.
Game 4: Illinois State (33-22) vs. Cal Poly-Lamar Winner, 10 a.m.
Game 5: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 4 Loser (loser eliminated), 1 p.m.
Game 6: Game 2 Loser vs. Game 3 Loser (loser eliminated), 4 p.m.
Tuesday, May 23
Game 8: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner (loser eliminated), 10 a.m.
Game 7: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner / ESPN3.com, 1 p.m.
Game 9: Game 8 Winner vs. Game 7 Loser / ESPN3 (loser eliminated), 4 p.m.
Wednesday, May 24
Game 10: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 9 Winner / ESPN3, 9 a.m.
Game 11: Championship Final No. 2 / ESPN3 (if necessary), 12 noon
ABOUT THE NISC: Sponsored by Fort Collins, Colo.-based Triple Crown Sports, the inaugural NISC consists of six regional rounds with each regional champion advancing to the May 21-24, double-elimination championship hosted by Liberty in Lynchburg, Va. The six regionals were hosted by Pacific, Weber State, Illinois State, Lamar, Georgia State and Liberty.
FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS DURING THE NISC: Live stats will be available for each of Cal Poly's NISC Championship Round games while audio play-by-play will be available for select matchups. ESPN3 will broadcast Tuesday's semifinals and Wednesday's championship. All links will be available through GoPoly.com HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS NISC CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND OPPONENTS: The Mustangs have never previously faced Lamar or Kennesaw State ... with senior righthander Sierra Hyland matching a career high with 15 strikeouts, Cal Poly downed Liberty 9-2 in the only previous meeting between the two programs on Feb. 19 this season ... Cal Poly has faced Illinois State just once prior, winning a 3-0 decision on March 10, 2000 in Fresno, Calif. ... the Mustangs have also faced Weber State just once before, dropping a 2-1 decision on March 4, 2016 in San Luis Obispo.
MUSTANGS STAMPEDE THROUGH REGION 1 (MAY 16-18): In defeating host Pacific (7-0) and Nevada twice (1-0, 3-0) during three days in NISC Region 1 play (Stockton, Calif.), Cal Poly failed to allow a run while the Mustang pitching staff conceded just seven total hits. Cal Poly batted .288 during Region 1 play while Mustang righthanders Sierra Hyland and Lindsey Chalmers held opponents to a .104 mark.
CAL POLY IN THE POSTSEASON: The Mustangs are appearing in the postseason for the first time since reaching the final of the Stanford Regional during the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Cal Poly's NISC participation marks the program's third postseason appearance at the Division I level. The Mustangs also earned an automatic bid to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
CAL POLY'S WINNING PEDIGREE: By sweeping the NISC Region 1 tournament, Cal Poly matched the 1997 Mustangs (37-17) for the third highest win total at the Division I level. The 2009 (41-12) and 2007 (39-17) Cal Poly squads hold the top two spots for total victories in a season.
STAFF INJECTION: Cal Poly's pitching staff ERA of 1.20 ranks second among 291 NCAA Division I programs. All three of Cal Poly's pitchers who've started multiple games this season feature a sub-2.00 ERA in senior righthander Sierra Hyland (0.97), junior righthander Lindsey Chalmers (1.58) and freshman righthander Steffi Best (1.13).
CONDON ON VERGE OF MORE BIG WEST CONFERENCE HISTORY: With 351 career victories entering the NISC Championship Round, 13th-year Cal Poly head coach Jenny Condon requires just five more wins to surpass current Long Beach State head coach Kim Sowder (355) for fifth place in career victories by a Big West Conference head coach. With Cal Poly's 1-0 victory versus Nevada (May 17), Condon became just the seventh coach in Big West history to achieve 350 career wins.
CLOSE, BUT ...: Cal Poly's 19 losses this season have occurred by just 38 total runs (2.0 per game) with only three of the program's defeats coming by more than two runs. Six of Cal Poly's defeats have occurred in extra innings and three have occurred versus ranked programs.
MARATHON MUSTANGS: Led by the program's lengthiest game in eight seasons – an 8-7, 13-inning victory at UC Davis (April 29) – Cal Poly has played a program record 12 extra-inning matchups this season. The Mustangs, 6-6 in extra-inning games thus far, have played 25 extra innings this season – the equivalent of nearly three games.
HYLAND'S SENIOR SEASON A DOMINATING EFFORT: Becoming just the seventh pitcher in 33 years of Big West Conference softball to reach 80-plus career wins marked the latest notable effort for senior righthander Sierra Hyland (23-12), who enters the NISC Championship Round having allowed just six earned run in her last 53.1 innings while ranking sixth among NCAA Division I pitchers in ERA (0.97), sixth in shutouts (11), 13th in strikeouts (255), 20th in victories (23), 22nd in hits allowed per seven innings (4.24), 52nd in strikeouts per seven innings (7.3) and 61st in walks allowed per seven innings (1.40). 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 5.2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, averages 1.04 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), No. 9 Oklahoma (March 17), UC Riverside (May 13) and Nevada (May 18) and a two-hitter versus UConn (March 11), has walked just 49 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 is the only player in the 33-year history of Big West softball to reach 900 career strikeouts (currently 945) and the only player in program history to have compiled three 200-strkeout seasons. Offensively, Hyland leads Cal Poly with a .331 (57-for-172) batting average, 57 hits, 78 total bases and eight multi-RBI games. She's also fifth among Big West hitters with 36 RBI. Hyland is a .324 (201-for-621) career hitter who ranks second in program history in RBI (122), third in hits, fourth in doubles (38) and total bases (293), fifth in batting average and eighth in at-bats (621).
HYLAND HAS HERSELF IN HER SIGHTS: The Cal Poly program's single season record holder for strikeouts, Sierra Hyland requires just eight more to match her top mark of 263, set in 2014. Hyland also needs just 20.0 inning to match her own single season record of 264.1 (also set as a freshman in 2014).
THIS WEEK IN SIERRA HYLAND: Having already set a new Big West Conference career strikeout record (currently 945) and new Cal Poly program records for victories (81), appearances (158), starts (119), complete games (103), innings pitched (925.0), shutouts (37) and saves (six), Sierra Hyland requires just four more appearances to overtake UNLV's Lori Harrigan (1989-92) for the all-time Big West record.
CHALMERS IN NATIONAL FORM: Without a sub-3.00 ERA at any point during her first two seasons, junior righthander Lindsey Chalmers (13-7) takes a 1.58 ERA that ranks 41st among NCAA Division I players into the NISC Championship Round. Chalmers is also 31st nationally in hits allowed per seven innings (4.64) and third among Big West pitchers with a .184 opposing batting average. Having conceded just 11 earned runs in her last 54.0 Big West innings, Chalmers has struck out a career best nine hitters in a seven-inning game four times in 2017. She also struck out 10 in nine innings versus Long Beach State (April 14).
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 the NISC Championship Round ranked second in Cal Poly's lineup with a .314 (50-for-159) batting average. Convissar, who has hit safely 34 times this season, ranks second in Cal Poly's lineup with 13 multi-hit games.
HEYWARD KEEPS UP STELLER HITTING: The only Mustang to play every inning of every game at the same position, junior third baseman Stephanie Heyward – with a .310 (52-for-168) batting average – is one of four Mustangs hitting .300 or better. The 18th toughest player to strike out in Division I at just once every 33.6 at-bats, Heyward has been fanned a team low five times in a team leading 203 plate appearances and not in the past 18 games. She also owns Cal Poly's lengthiest hitting streak of 2017, having hit safely in 14 straight from March 11 to April 1. A starter in 152 straight games and 159 of a possible 161 during her career, Heyward ranks second all-time at Cal Poly with a .339 (161-for-475) career batting average.
MUSTANGS MOVE RUNNERS ALONG: The Mustangs feature five of the Big West Conference's top six leaders in sacrifice bunts with Cal Poly having produced 84 successful sacrifices in 56 games (the second highest total belongs to Cal State Fullerton at just 42 sacrifices). Senior second baseman Ashley Tornio leads the Big West with 14 sacrifices and, as a team, Cal Poly successfully advances baserunners 47.9 (413-for-862) percent of the time.
MUSTANGS FACED NATION'S FINEST IN 2017: In what has become a hallmark of 13th-year head coach Jenny Condon's tenure, Cal Poly again contested one of the more competitive schedules in Division I during the 2017 regular 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) and 22 of 56 have come versus programs in the top 75 of the NCAA RPI.