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Mustang Softball Looks to Maintain Big West Momentum versus Pacific

Mustang Softball Looks to Maintain Big West Momentum versus Pacific

COMPLETE SERIES PREVIEW (pdf)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Off to the program's best start to a Big West season in three years, the Cal Poly softball team looks to stay in the conference title chase when hosting Pacific for a three-game April 6-7 series. Action at Bob Janssen Field gets underway with a 12 noon doubleheader on Saturday, April 6 before concluding with a 12 noon single game on Sunday. After climbing to fourth place in the Big West standings following a March 29-30 three-game road sweep of Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly (15-20-1, 4-2) enters the weekend set against the Tigers just a game behind Pacific (20-17, 5-1) and Long Beach State (23-14, 5-1) and two games behind conference-leading and 16th-ranked Hawai'i (28-7, 6-0). Cal Poly requires just two more conference victories to provide ninth-year head coach Jenny Condon her 100th Big West win.

HOW TO ENJOY MUSTANG SOFTBALL THIS WEEK: Dave Grant (Twitter: @DaveCPMustangs) returns to the headset to provide play-by-play detail for each of Cal Poly's series games versus Pacific for GoPoly.com. Live stats and streaming video will also be available for all three series games.

CAL POLY VERSUS PACIFIC: The Mustangs are seeking their first series victory against the Tigers since taking two of three games at Pacific to close the 2010 season. Pacific has enjoyed recent success at Bob Janssen Field as the Tigers snapped a 14-game Cal Poly winning streak with a May 2, 2009 victory before sweeping the Mustangs in San Luis Obispo during the 2011 season. Pacific holds a 29-21 Division I series advantage against Cal Poly, but the Mustangs are 12-12 versus the Tigers under ninth-year head coach Jenny Condon.

CAL POLY SAYS FAREWELL TO PACIFIC: With Pacific transitioning to the West Coast Conference at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season, this weekend's series marks the final set of games between the Mustangs and Tigers as Big West foes.

WURST MAINTAINS DOMINANT FORM IN THE CIRCLE: Though just 8-8-1 this season, two of lefthander Chloe Wurst's victories have come against ranked opposition and the sophomore enters Cal Poly's April 6 doubleheader versus Pacific ranked fourth among conference performers in ERA (2.28) and innings pitched (113.2), fifth in victories and starts (18) and sixth in strikeouts (79). Exceptionally strong of late, Wurst earned Big West Pitcher of the Week praise on Monday after tossing back-to-back complete-game shutouts during victories at Cal State Fullerton (March 29-30). 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 3.9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season and is averaging 0.70 strikeouts per inning.

CAL POLY'S TABLE SETTER: Batting from the leadoff spot in the lineup, junior second baseman Ashley Romano has reached safely in 31 of 36 games this year 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 April 6 doubleheader versus Pacific, Romano leads the Mustangs and ranks second among conference players in at-bats (122), third in plate appearances (139) and seventh in runs scored (23) and walks (16). Romano, who also ranks second among Mustangs with just nine strikeouts and 31 hits, has struck out only twice during the previous 12 games. Defensively, Romano has started all 36 contests and ranks seventh among Big West players with 69 assists.

ANDERSEN ENJOYING BREAKOUT ROLE: A .182 career hitter entering her 2013 junior season, third baseman Jillian Andersen (above) has batted .412 (14-for-34) during Cal Poly's past 11 games and enters the program's April 6 doubleheader versus Pacific leading the Mustangs with a .320 mark. Andersen also paces Cal Poly with 33 hits and ranks second with eight multi-hit games. Among Big West players, Andersen leads the conference with 10 sacrifice bunts and ranks ninth with a .417 on-base percentage. Defensively, Andersen has started all 36 games for Cal Poly at third base after spending her first two seasons at second and in the outfield and ranks third among Big West performers with 82 assists.

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 April 6 doubleheader versus Pacific ranked second among Mustangs with a .295 batting average and 31 hits. Westlund also ranks fourth among Big West players with 19 walks and 11th with a .400 on-base percentage. A .296 (119-for-402) 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 21 times and reached safely in 28 contests. Defensively, Westlund has started all 36 games this season, 130 of a possible 132 during her Cal Poly career and currently leads all Big West players with 91 assists.

CLOSE, BUT … : Spotlighted by a 7-6, nine-inning loss against No. 21 Stanford (Feb. 9), a 1-0 defeat versus No. 24 Kentucky (Feb. 14) and a 2-1 loss against No. 9 Oregon (Feb. 23), 10 of Cal Poly's 20 defeats this season have come by a single run. Conversely, Cal Poly has won eight games by a single run. Overall, 50.0 percent of Cal Poly's games this season have been decided by one 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 (APRIL 8-14): Cal Poly opens a split series against Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara when hosting the Gauchos for a 3 p.m. doubleheader on Wednesday, April 10. The single-game series finale against UC Santa Barbara (21-13, 2-4) at Bob Janssen Field will be contested on Wednesday, April 17 at 3 p.m. The Gauchos reside in fifth place in the Big West standings after dropping two of three games at Pacific (March 29-30). Prior to the series finale against UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly visits last-place Cal State Northridge (14-21, 0-3) for a three-game April 13-14 series.

ETC.: Cal Poly's three-game sweep of Cal State Fullerton (April 29-30) marked the program's first conference road sweep since rolling UC Santa Barbara (April 10-11, 2010) and the first road sweep of the Titans in program history.