SAN LUIS OBISPO – Senior righthander Lindsey Chalmers struck out five UC Riverside hitters without issuing a walk, but the Cal Poly softball program stranded five baserunners and dropped both the opening game of Big West Conference play and a Friday doubleheader to the Highlanders, 3-0. Cal Poly also dropped the second game of Friday's doubleheader, 1-0, after the Highlanders made a third-inning run stand up and the Mustangs stranded an additional 10 baserunners.
During Friday's Big West opener against UC Riverside (25-11, 2-0), the Highlanders notched the game's opening run in the top of the third inning after first baseman Sarah Parten followed shortstop Hannah Rodriguez's two-out single with a run-scoring base hit to left center field.
Following UC Riverside's first run, Chalmers (11-5) retired the Highlanders in order during the fourth before stranding the bases loaded in the fifth. UC Riverside, however, tacked on its final two runs in the top of the seventh with Rodriguez depositing a run-scoring single into center field before Parten scored her with a double to deep center.
Outhit, 10-5, Cal Poly's best chance to equalize occurred in the bottom half of the fifth with junior catcher Makenna Young producing a leadoff single and senior shortstop Chelsea Convissar drawing a two-out walk. Freshman left fielder Noellah Ramos, however, struck out to end the inning.
Cal Poly (16-15, 0-2) also saw senior third baseman Stephanie Heyward lead off the bottom portion of the sixth with a single but, with one down, junior right fielder Crimson Kaiser lined into a double play that ended with Heyward doubled off of first.
During Friday's second game versus the Highlanders, Cal Poly stranded five baserunners through the opening three innings, but failed to advance anyone to third. The Highlanders responded by loading the bases against Cal Poly freshman starting righthander Dakota Casper (1-5) in the top of the fourth. With sophomore reliever Shelby Jeffries having taken over in the circle, UC Riverside third baseman Emma Ramelot delivered the game's opening run by drawing a bases-loaded walk.
After conceding the second game's only run, Cal Poly saw seven successive Mustang hitters retired by UC Riverside starting righthander Hailey Dolcini (10-3) until sophomore first baseman Hailey Martin singled with one down in the bottom half of the sixth. With freshman Sarah Wulff on to pinch run, Jeffries drew a two-out walk before Young singled in front of center fielder Jenna Curtan. Curtan fielded the ball on a hop and threw out Wulff at home plate to preserve UC Riverside's lead.
Cal Poly enjoyed one final chance to break through against UC Riverside during the bottom half of the seventh. After Dolcini recorded two quick outs, Convissar and Ramos put together back-to-back singles before Heyward drew a five-pitch walk. Martin, however, flew out to end the matchup.
Both Convissar and Young produced two hits during Friday's second game.
Cal Poly and UC Riverside complete the three-game series with a 1 p.m. matchup on Saturday, March 31.