Softball closes season with 3 straight victories over Mustangs

Janelle Soto/HIGHLANDER
Janelle Soto/HIGHLANDER

Friday, May 8

Highlanders 6 — Mustangs 2

Highlanders 8 — Mustangs 1

The Highlanders started their last series of the year with a doubleheader on Friday, with both teams trading runs in the early innings of the first game. Cal Poly added another run to the tally in the fifth inning to take the lead.

The Mustangs’ advantage was short-lived, as the Highlanders drove home four runs to put the Mustangs behind, 5-2. Chelsey Holley started the fifth inning off with a bang by smacking a home run. Jenna Curtan came home after a fielder’s choice, and the inning was topped off by a Natalie Sanchez double, driving home another two Highlanders.

The Highlanders added another run in the sixth inning, and Cal Poly was never able to recover.

The next game wasn’t much better for the Mustangs, with the Highlanders taking an immediate lead, driving in three runs off of three hits. Cal Poly briefly attempted an early-inning comeback, notching a single run in the second inning, but it was unceremoniously crushed when Karina Romero brought home Rebecca Faulkner and Jenna Curtan, leaving the score at 5-1.

The rest of the game was no fun for the Mustangs, as the Highlanders drove home another two runs in the third inning and padded their lead with an additional run later on to win the day, 8-1.

Saturday, May 9

Highlanders 3 — Mustangs 2

The Highlanders’ final game of the season was characterized by more misses than hits as batters from both teams struggled to get on base. In the end, though, the Highlanders pulled out the victory, 3-2, finishing the season on a strong note and giving the team’s seniors the ultimate graduation present.

Senior Alyssa Razo took the circle first for the blue and gold, pitching the first inning. In the top of the first, Mustang Stephanie Heyward smacked the ball to right-center field, driving home runners on first and second to put the Mustangs up early.

Even though Razo was swapped out for Chelsea Ponce in the second inning, the Highlanders had yet to find their groove, with the Mustangs reaching third base in the third inning before Madeline Richard caught a pop-fly to turn the inning over to the Highlanders.

Then the Highlanders struck. Jenna Curtan took first base after the Mustang shortstop fumbled the ball, allowing Nicolette Lujan to advance to second after previously being hit with the ball. Next, Richard whacked the ball to third, loading the bases and putting the Highlanders in prime scoring position.

Natalie Sanchez made good, hitting a sacrifice fly that brought home Lujan. But another Mustang error gave Curtan the opportunity to tie up the score, 2-2. With Richard still on base, Karina Romero drove in one last run to put the Highlanders one up on the Mustangs.

The remaining innings turned into pitching duels as Ponce and Mustang Sierra Hyland challenged batters to get on base. The Mustangs briefly put a scare into the Highlanders at the end of the seventh inning, but it was not to be, with UCR taking home the victory and the series.

The season was a remarkably successful one for the softball squad, coming out with a winning conference record. “It was honestly fantastic. We accomplished everything we set out to do,” Taylor Wright, who is graduating this year, said.

Romero, who drove home the game-winning run, agreed, citing the team’s hard work and dedication. “We’re pretty much the first team to break all the records,” she added.

The Highlanders finished up on their record-breaking season, winning 39-17 overall and 11-10 in conference. The record is the sport’s best-ever since the team moved to Division I 15 years ago.

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