COMPLETE SERIES PREVIEW (pdf)
SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Cal Poly softball program looks to close the gap on Big West Conference leader Cal State Fullerton when the Mustangs visit last-place UC Davis for a three-game, April 29-30 series at LaRue Field. The series opens with a 12 noon doubleheader on Saturday, April 29 and closes with a 12 noon matchup on Sunday, April 30. Cal Poly (29-15, 5-7) trails Cal State Fullerton (26-19, 9-3) by four games in the Big West standings, but can cut the gap to two games by sweeping UC Davis and having Long Beach State defeat the Titans twice this weekend. Two of Cal Poly's final three Big West series take place on the road, but all three – at UC Davis, versus Hawai'i (May 5-6) and at UC Riverside (12-13) – occur versus the bottom three programs in the Big West standings (by contrast, Cal State Fullerton's final three series occur versus the second-, third- fourth-placed programs). The Mustangs, whose pitching staff ERA of 1.20 ranks third among 291 NCAA Division I programs, require just one more victory to secure the program's first 30-win season since 2014.
FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS THIS WEEK: Live stats for all three of Cal Poly's April 29-30 series games at UC Davis will be available via GoPoly.com HERE. Audio-play-by-play from Saturday's doubleheader will be available HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS UC DAVIS: The Mustangs have won the last two series against UC Davis and four of the last six matchups – including winning two of three games at LaRue Field in 2015. Cal Poly has dropped just one of four series at UC Davis as a Big West opponent and leads the all-time series, 21-15.
CLOSE, BUT ...: Cal Poly's 15 losses this season have occurred by just 27 total runs (1.8 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 the 33-year history of Big West Conference softball to reach 900-plus career strikeouts marked the latest notable effort for senior righthander Sierra Hyland (17-10), who enters Saturday's doubleheader at UC Davis having allowed just 11 earned runs in her last 71.2 innings while ranking ninth among NCAA Division I pitchers in ERA (1.02), 11th in strikeouts (219), 13th in hits allowed per seven innings (4.07), 17th in walks allowed per seven innings (0.99) and 42nd in strikeouts per seven innings (8.0). Among Big West Pitchers, Hyland also leads with her 17 victories, .165 opposing batting average and 191.0 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 an 8.1-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 27 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) and the only player in program history to have compiled three 200-strkeout seasons, Hyland – offensively – leads Cal Poly with seven multi-RBI games while ranking second with 10 multi-hit games and a .311 (41-for-132) batting average. She's also fifth among Big West hitters with 29 RBI. Hyland is a .318 (185-for-581) career hitter who ranks third all-time with 115 RBI, fourth with 37 doubles, fifth with 185 hits and seventh in batting average.
THIS WEEK IN SIERRA HYLAND: Having already set a new Big West Conference career strikeout record (currently 909) and new Cal Poly program records for victories (75), appearances (151), starts (112), innings pitched (871.2) 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).
CHALMERS IN NATIONAL FORM: Without a sub-3.00 ERA at any point during her first two seasons, junior righthander Lindsey Chalmers (11-5) takes a 1.30 ERA that ranks 22nd among NCAA Division I players into Saturday's doubleheader at UC Davis. Chalmers is also 34th nationally in hits allowed per seven innings (4.69) and second among Big West pitchers (to only Sierra Hyland) with a .185 opposing batting average. Having conceded just one earned run and two extra-base hits in her last 27.1 innings pitched, 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 90 at-bats this season, she ranks second in Cal Poly's lineup with a .311 batting average. Kaiser, who has started during 32 of her 33 appearances, has reached base safely in 17 of her last 22 appearances.
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 (above) comes into Saturday's doubleheader at UC Davis leading Cal Poly with a .319 (38-for-119) batting average. 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 70 successful sacrifices in 44 games (the second highest total belongs to Cal State Fullerton at 34 sacrifices). Senior second baseman Ashley Tornio leads the Big West with 13 sacrifices and, as a team, Cal Poly successfully advances baserunners 48.1 (331-for-688) 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).