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April 24, 2012

Mustang Softball Opens Six-Game Road Trip at Big West-Leading Pacific

COMPLETE SERIES PREVIEW (pdf)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. –  The Cal Poly softball program hits the road for the final time during the 2012 regular season as the Mustangs open a six-game swing with a three-game April 28-29 set at Big West Conference co-leader Pacific. The series at Bill Simoni Field in Stockton opens with a 12 noon doubleheader on Saturday, April 28 before culminating with a 12 noon single game the ensuing Sunday. Cal Poly (12-28, 4-8), seeking its first conference road series victory of the year, enters weekend action in sixth place in the Big West standings after dropping two of three home games against UC Davis (April 21-22). Pacific (29-16, 8-4), meanwhile, looks to break a four-way deadlock atop the Big West standings, a crowded spot the Tigers inhabit with UC Davis (18-25, 8-4), UC Santa Barbara (23-26, 8-4) and Long Beach State (20-22, 8-4). Pacific is attempting to become the first Big West program to successfully defend a conference championship since Long Beach State (2004-05) and reach consecutive NCAA Tournaments since Cal State Fullerton (2008-09). The Tigers also enter the weekend series against Cal Poly leading every Big West program in batting average (.314), slugging percentage (.458), on-base percentage (.397), runs (236), hits (370), RBI (211), doubles (74), home runs (31), total bases (539), walks (146) and fewest strikeouts (112).

HOW TO ENJOY MUSTANG SOFTBALL THIS WEEK: Live stats from all three series games at Pacific will be available HERE.

CAL POLY VERSUS PACIFIC:
The Tigers lead the all-time series against the Mustangs, 26-21, but Cal Poly has won the last three series contested between the two programs in Stockton. With the Tigers transitioning to the West Coast Conference for the 2013-14 academic term, the forthcoming series at Pacific will be the last meeting in Stockton between the two programs as Big West members.

BIG WEST TITLE RACE TAKES SHAPE: The outside Mustang looking in on the Big West championship chase, Cal Poly enters Saturday's doubleheader at Pacific trailing the conference-leading quartet by four games in the league standings. Continuing with this weekend's series at Pacific, however, the Mustangs are in a stretch where they can directly influence the Big West title race. Cal Poly's 7-2 victory against UC Davis (April 21) kept the Aggies from claiming sole possession of first place atop the Big West standings while a similar victory this weekend could put a dent in Pacific's title aspirations. After facing Pacific, Cal Poly visits another Big West co-leader in UC Santa Barbara for a three-game May 5-6 set.

WESTLUND REMAINS CAL POLY'S CATALYST: Sophomore shortstop Kim Westlund, installed as Cal Poly's leadoff hitter for the previous six games, enters Saturday's doubleheader at Pacific as one of only three Big West players to rank among the top-10 conference performers for batting average (.345), slugging percentage (.479), on-base percentage (.412), hits (41), RBI (22) and total bases (57). Westlund has also reached base safely during Cal Poly's previous 10 outings and hit safely during 12 of the previous 14 contests. In total, Westlund – also first among Mustangs with 10 multi-hit games and five multi-RBI games – has reached base successfully during 35 of 40 contests this season and hit safely 30 times. A consistent threat in the Cal Poly lineup since batting safely during her first 11 collegiate games last season, Westlund has started 84 of a possible 87 contests during her Mustang career.

GERHART REMAINS IN THE ZONE: Cal Poly's most productive hitter of late behind Kim Westlund, junior center fielder Whitley Gerhart takes a .333 batting average in 12 Big West games into Saturday's doubleheader at Pacific. Gerhart, without a multi-hit game during her initial 108 appearances as a Mustang, has collected three such outings this season. Also without a collegiate homer during her opening 102 games, Gerhart has socked three long balls through Cal Poly's previous 18 contests. Defensively, Gerhart is a .978 career fielder.

WURST STEADILY IMPROVING: Freshman lefthander Chloe Wurst walked just one UC Davis hitter during Cal Poly's 7-2 triumph against the Big West-leading Aggies (April 21) in lowering her season ERA for the sixth-successive appearance. Wurst, who takes a 4.91 ERA into Saturday's doubleheader at Pacific, has allowed just three extra-base hits during six Big West appearances.

VOGELSANG ON A TEAR: Sophomore first baseman Madi Vogelsang opened the 2012 campaign without a collegiate hit, but enters Saturday's doubleheader at Pacific ranked seventh among Big West players with eight doubles and first among Mustangs with four homers and 12 extra-base hits. She also ranks second on Cal Poly's roster with 45 total bases. Vogelsang had produced just two hits (neither for extra bases) during Cal Poly's opening six games this season before belting a pair of homers versus then-No. 22 Nebraska (Feb. 25) to help drive the Mustangs to a 14-7 triumph. She added her third homer of the season during an 8-2 victory against Nevada (March 4) before swatting a fourth in a 3-1 home triumph versus Cal State Northridge (April 15). After making just three starts at first base as a freshman in 2011, Vogelsang has started all 40 games this season. Her .992 fielding percentage with just two errors in 266 chances this season ranks as the fifth-highest figure among Big West players.

MUSTANGS POWER UP: Junior Whitley Gerhart and sophomores Mariah Cochiolo and Madi Vogelsang collectively entered the 2012 season without a collegiate homer, but the trio has provided 82 percent of Cal Poly's long balls this season. Principally, Vogelsang – who entered the year without a collegiate hit – enjoyed a highlight afternoon when swatting a pair of homers to help Cal Poly down then-No. 22 Nebraska, 14-7 (Feb. 25). Not surprisingly, Cal Poly is 6-3 when homering this season, but just 2-19 when the opponent homers.

FIELDING A TURNAROUND: A year after committing the second most errors (71) among Big West programs and ranking second from bottom in fielding percentage (.953), Cal Poly enters Saturday's doubleheader at Pacific pacing all conference programs in fielding percentage (.963) and fewest errors committed (44). Leading the way on an individual basis for Cal Poly is sophomore first baseman Madi Vogelsang, whose .992 fielding mark through 266 chances ranks as the fifth best figure among Big West players.

MUSTANGS FACE NATION'S FINEST IN 2012:
In what has become a hallmark of head coach Jenny Condon's eight-year tenure, Cal Poly has again contested one of the most competitive schedules in Division I softball during the 2012 campaign. In total, 11 of Cal Poly's opening 34 games occurred against programs ranked or receiving votes at some point this season in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 poll (ranking from date of game).

BIG WEST CONFERENCE RESHUFFLES THE DECK: Hawai'i, currently ranked No. 14 in the March 27 edition of the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 poll, will join the Big West for the 2012-13 academic term while San Diego State will become a conference member prior to the 2014 season. Reigning Big West champion Pacific, however, will depart the Big West for the West Coast Conference prior to the 2013-14 term.

LOOKING AHEAD (APRIL 30-MAY 6):
Cal Poly opens the final month of competition and completes the road portion of its 2012 regular season schedule when visiting Big West co-leader UC Santa Barbara for a three-game May 5-6 set. Including a three-game sweep during the 2010 season, Cal Poly has produced series victories during three of its last four visits to UC Santa Barbara's Campus Diamond. Prior to hosting the Mustangs, UC Santa Barbara visits fellow conference co-leader UC Davis for a three-game April 28-29 series.

ETC.:
The 14 runs scored by UCLA during both ends of a March 27 doubleheader matched a year-old program record for total runs conceded by Cal Poly. The 18 hits collected during the second game by UCLA, meanwhile, established a new opponent record … Cal Poly's 20-game road trip to open the season marked the third lengthiest away stretch in program history while a March 23 home opener marked the latest date on the calendar that the Mustangs contested their first game of the year at Bob Janssen Field … Cal Poly's 10-game home stand between March 23-April 1 ranked as the program's lengthiest home stretch in 18 Division I seasons … Cal Poly first and only victory when committing more errors than the opponent, drawing fewer walks, striking out more and trailing after the sixth inning came during a 4-3, 10-inning triumph at Fresno State (April 9) … the 10-inning victory at Fresno State was Cal Poly's lengthiest game since defeating Utah State, 4-3, in 13 innings (March 8, 2009) … the game at Fresno State also marked the first time under eighth-year head coach Jenny Condon that Cal Poly had played a non-conference game once starting its Big West schedule … Cal Poly's 7-2 victory against UC Davis (April 21) marked the program's 900th game at the Division I level (1995-present).