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Cal Poly Opens Inaugural NISC Tuesday versus Pacific at 7 p.m.

Cal Poly Opens Inaugural NISC Tuesday versus Pacific at 7 p.m.


STOCKTON – An at-large selection for the inaugural 28-team National Invitational Softball Championships, the Cal Poly softball program makes its return to postseason play after an eight-year hiatus at the double-elimination, May 16-18, Region 1 tournament, hosted by Pacific at Bill Simoni Field. Cal Poly (34-19), having posted the program's highest win total in eight seasons, opens Region 1 action versus West Coast Conference runner-up Pacific (27-24) on Tuesday, May 16 at 7 p.m. Big West Conference runner-up UC Santa Barbara (31-26) and Mountain West Conference fifth-place finisher Nevada (28-23) meet in Tuesday's Region 1 opener at 4 p.m. A victory versus Pacific advances Cal Poly to a Wednesday winner's bracket semifinal matchup versus either UC Santa Barbara or Nevada at 4 p.m.; a loss forces Cal Poly into an elimination contest against either the rival Gauchos of Wolf Pack at 1 p.m. The Region 1 championship game is scheduled for Thursday, May 18 at 12 noon. The complete Region 1 schedule is below. The Mustangs, who finished in a fifth-place tie in the Big West standings, enter the NISC ranked fourth among 291 Division I programs with a 1.27 ERA. Pacific, meanwhile, closed the regular season by winning nine straight games to finish as runners-up in the West Coast standings and four games behind champion BYU.

NISC Region 1 – Stockton, Calif.
Tuesday, May 16
Game One: Nevada (28-23) vs. UC Santa Barbara (31-26), 4 p.m.
Game Two: Cal Poly (34-19) vs. Pacific (27-24), 7 p.m.

Wednesday, May 17
Game Three: Game One Loser vs. Game Two Loser, 1 p.m.
Game Four: Game One Winner vs. Game Two Winner, 4 p.m.
Game Five: Game Three Winner vs. Game Four Loser, 7 p.m.

Thursday, May 18
Game Six: Game Four Winner vs. Game Five Winner, 12 noon
Game Seven (if necessary), 3 p.m.

ABOUT THE NISC: Sponsored by Fort Collins, Colo.-based Triple Crown Sports, the inaugural NISC consists of four, four-team regionals and two, five-team regionals. Each regional will be played May 16-18 with a double-elimination format. The six regional winners advance to the May 21-24, double-elimination championship hosted by a yet-to-be-determined program. The remaining five regional hosts are Weber State, Illinois State, Lamar, Georgia State and Liberty.

FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS DURING THE NISC: Live stats and streaming video from each NISC Region 1 game at Pacific will be available through HERE.

CAL POLY VERSUS REGION 1 OPPONENTS: Cal Poly last faced Pacific – a Big West opponent from 1997 until the Tigers transitioned to the West Coast Conference for the 2013-14 season – on Feb. 28, 2016, delivering a 3-1 in Stockton. Cal Poly and Pacific have met five times at non-conference tournaments during the previous three seasons with the Mustangs prevailing three times. Pacific, however, leads the all-time series, 33-25 ... Cal Poly won the 2017 season series from UC Santa Barbara, taking two of three games in San Luis Obispo (April 1-2) to open Big West play. The most frequent opponent in Cal Poly's 23-year Division I tenure, the Mustangs lead the all-time series, 40-36 ... Cal Poly last met Nevada on March 9, 2013, dropping a 5-2 decision at the Cal State Fullerton-hosted Easton Invitational. Cal Poly did eliminate the Wolf Pack from the 2009 NCAA Tournament en route to reaching the Stanford Regional final, but Nevada leads the all-time series, 10-6.

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 winning the NISC Region 1 tournament, Cal Poly can match or overtake the 1997 Mustangs (37-17) for the third highest win total at the Division I level. The 2009 (41-12) and 2007 (37-17) Cal Poly squads hold the top two spots for total victories in a season.

STAFF INJECTION: Cal Poly's pitching staff ERA of 1.27 ranks fourth 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 (1.03), junior righthander Lindsey Chalmers (1.68) and freshman righthander Steffi Best (1.13).

CONDON ON VERGE OF BIG WEST CONFERENCE HISTORY: With 348 career victories entering the NISC, 13th-year Cal Poly head coach Jenny Condon requires just two more wins to become only the seventh coach in the 33-year history of Big West softball to reach 350 career victories. Among active head coaches, Condon trails only Long Beach State's Kim Sowder (355) in career victories by a Big West head coach.

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 third pitcher in 33 years of Big West Conference softball to reach 900-plus career innings marked the latest notable effort for senior righthander Sierra Hyland (21-12), who enters the NISC having allowed just six earned run in her last 39.1 inning while ranking sixth among NCAA Division I pitchers in ERA (1.03), 13th in shutouts (nine), 16th in strikeouts (243), 23rd in hits allowed per seven innings (4.35), 40th in walks allowed per seven innings (1.28) and 52nd in strikeouts per seven innings (7.4). Among Big West Pitchers, Hyland also leads with her 21 victories and 230.1 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 5.8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, averages 1.1 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) and UC Riverside (May 13) and a two-hitter versus UConn (March 11), has walked just 42 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 933) and the only player in program history to have compiled three 200-strkeout seasons. Offensively, Hyland leads Cal Poly with a .337 (55-for-163) batting average, 55 hits, nine doubles, 76 total bases and eight multi-RBI games. She's also sixth among Big West hitters with 35 RBI. A .325 (199-for-612) career hitter whose average is the fifth highest mark in program history, Hyland also ranks second all-time in RBI (121), fourth in doubles (38), fifth in hits (199), home runs (16) and total bases (291) and eighth in at-bats (612).

HYLAND HAS HERSELF IN HER SIGHTS: The Cal Poly program's single season record holder for strikeouts, Sierra Hyland requires just 20 more to match her top mark of 263 set in 2014. Hyland also needs just 34.0 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 934) and new Cal Poly program records for victories (79), appearances (156), starts (117), innings pitched (911.0), shutouts (35) and saves (six), Sierra Hyland enters the NISC needing just one more win to become only the seventh pitcher in Big West history to reach 80.

CHALMERS IN NATIONAL FORM: Without a sub-3.00 ERA at any point during her first two seasons, junior righthander Lindsey Chalmers (12-7) takes a 1.68 ERA that ranks 48th among NCAA Division I players into the NISC. Chalmers is also 39th nationally in hits allowed per seven innings (4.80) and third among Big West pitchers with a .189 opposing batting average. Having conceded just 11 earned runs in 47.0 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 ranked third in Cal Poly's lineup with a .309 (45-for-150) batting average. Convissar, who has hit safely 31 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 .313 (50-for-160) batting average – is one of three Mustangs hitting .300 or better. Heyward, who has struck out a team low five times in a team leading 192 plate appearances, owns Cal Poly's lengthiest hitting streak of 2017, having hit safely in 14 straight from March 11 to April 1. She also ranks third among Big West Conference players with 13 sacrifices. A starter in 149 straight games and 156 of a possible 158 during her career, Heyward ranks second all-time at Cal Poly with a .340 (159-for-467) 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 81 successful sacrifices in 53 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 (388-for-810) 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 53 came versus programs in the top 75 of the NCAA RPI.