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Cal Poly Opens Big West Slate versus Long Beach State, Hosts Fresno State

Cal Poly Opens Big West Slate versus Long Beach State, Hosts Fresno State

COMPLETE WEEKLY PREVIEW (pdf)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The Cal Poly softball program opens a five-game home stand and its 17th season of Big West Conference competition when hosting Long Beach State for a three-game series that begins with a 12 noon doubleheader on Saturday, March 23. The series at Bob Janssen Field versus the 49ers (19-12) concludes with a 12 noon single game on Sunday, March 24. Cal Poly (10-17-1) is 6-10 all-time in Big West-opening games, but has won its Big West-opening series during five of the previous eight years. Winners of four of their initial six home games this year, the Mustangs complete their home stand with a 3 p.m. doubleheader on Monday, March 25 versus Fresno State (17-13). The two-game set versus the Bulldogs marks Fresno State's first visit to the central coast since sweeping a doubleheader at Cal Poly on Feb. 14, 1999. Fresno State hosts Pacific for a single game on Wednesday, March 20 before heading to Cal Poly.

HOW TO ENJOY MUSTANG SOFTBALL THIS WEEK:
Live stats will be available for Cal Poly's upcoming five home games via GoPoly.com. Streaming video will also be available for Cal Poly's March 23 and March 25 doubleheaders.

CAL POLY VERSUS LONG BEACH STATE:
After sweeping Cal Poly at 49er Softball Complex last season, Long Beach State improved to 35-19 all-time versus the Mustangs. Cal Poly, however, is 12-12 versus Long Beach State under ninth-year head coach Jenny Condon. The Mustangs dropped two of three games versus Long Beach State during the last series between the two programs at Bob Janssen Field (2011), but swept the 49ers at home en route to capturing the 2007 and 2009 Big West championships.

CAL POLY VERSUS FRESNO STATE:
Behind a complete-game effort from sophomore righthander Jordan Yates, Cal Poly snapped a 17-season, 12-game losing slide at Fresno State with a 4-3, 10-inning triumph on April 9, 2012. The Bulldogs, however, maintain a 16-4 all-time series advantage against the Mustangs. Cal Poly's only home win in four attempts against Fresno State came as part of a doubleheader split on April 30, 1996.

WURST MAINTAINS DOMINANT FORM IN THE CIRCLE:
Though just 6-7-1 this season, two of lefthander Chloe Wurst's victories have come against ranked opposition and the sophomore enters Cal Poly's March 23 Big West opener against Long Beach State ranked third among conference pitchers in innings pitched (93.2), fifth in ERA (2.47) and starts (14) and sixth in strikeouts (75). Wurst, who owns victories against No. 18 Washington (Feb. 18) and No. 13 Georgia (Feb. 22), struck out a career-high seven hitters for the sixth time this season at CSU Bakersfield (March 17). Wurst also features a 4.2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and is averaging 0.80 strikeouts per inning.

WESTLUND CONTINUES WHERE SHE LEFT OFF:
An All-Big West second team selection last season after leading Cal Poly in seven offensive categories, junior shortstop Kim Westlund enters the program's March 23 Big West opener against Long Beach State pacing the Mustangs with a .313 batting average and 26 hits and ranked third among conference performers in walks (15) and ninth in on-base percentage (.414). A .300 (114-for-380) career hitter at Cal Poly, Westlund has produced a season-high three hits against San Jose State (Feb. 10) and San Diego State (Feb. 15), a season-high three RBI versus Long Island (Feb. 24) and No. 8 California (March 1), hit safely 17 times and reached safely in 22 contests. Defensively, Westlund has started all 28 games this season, 122 of a possible 124 during her Cal Poly career and currently leads all Big West players with 74 assists.

CAL POLY'S TABLE SETTER:
Batting from the leadoff spot in the lineup, junior second baseman Ashley Romano has reached safely in 24 of 28 games this season and, at 10 successive games between Feb. 23 and March 8, owns Cal Poly's second-lengthiest streak of the season. Entering Cal Poly's March 23 Big West opener, Romano leads the Mustangs and ranks third among conference players in at-bats (95), fourth in plate appearances (108) and eighth in runs scored (18). She's also struck out a Cal Poly-low eight times.

CLOSE, BUT … :
Spotlighted by a 7-6, nine-inning loss against No. 21 Stanford (Feb. 9), a 1-0 loss versus No. 24 Kentucky (Feb. 14) and a 2-1 loss against No. 9 Oregon (Feb. 23), eight of Cal Poly's 17 defeats this season have come by a single run. Conversely, Cal Poly has won just five games by a single run.

MUSTANGS FACE NATION'S FINEST IN 2013:
In what has become a hallmark of head coach Jenny Condon's nine-year tenure, Cal Poly is again contesting one of the most competitive schedules in Division I softball during the 2013 campaign. In total, nine of Cal Poly's opening 18 games occurred against programs ranked or receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 poll (ranking from date of game).

FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING:
For the first time through 924 contests during 19 Division I seasons, Cal Poly saw a game end in a tie after the program's Feb. 24 matchup versus Utah was halted at 1-1 due to the Utes' flight arrangements.

LOOKING AHEAD (MARCH 25-31):
Cal Poly heads to Cal State Fullerton for its first conference road series of the year when contesting a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Friday, March 29 at Anderson Family Field. Cal Poly's series against the Titans (13-16) concludes with a 12 noon single game on Saturday, March 30. After being swept in 2011 and dropping two of three games in 2009, Cal Poly seeks its first series win at Cal State Fullerton since the 2007 season. Cal State Fullerton opens its Big West campaign at UC Santa Barbara (March 23-24).