SANTA BARBARA – Freshman righthander Dakota Casper produced her first career complete-game victory as the Cal Poly softball program closed a Saturday doubleheader, a three-game series versus UC Santa Barbara and the 2018 regular season with a 5-1 victory at Campus Diamond. During Saturday's opening game, UC Santa Barbara hit three home runs – including a walkoff solo shot by Gaucho first baseman Sierra Altmeyer – as the Mustangs fell, 5-4.
With Saturday's game No. 2 win, 14th-year Mustang head coach Jenny Condon became just the ninth individual in Big West history to reach 150 conference victories.
During Saturday's second-game victory to close the regular season, Cal Poly (25-25, 9-12) was retired in the top of the first without a hit and UC Santa Barbara (20-34, 7-14) went up 1-0 in the bottom half through right fielder Rayna Cohen's two-out, run-scoring single up the middle to plate third baseman Genesis Ramirez.
Cal Poly, meanwhile, advanced just one baserunner into scoring position during the initial three innings. With one down in the fourth, however, the Mustangs received successive singles from sophomore first baseman Hailey Martin and junior designated player Megan Nordin before senior second baseman Alejandra Garcia laid down a bunt in front of Gaucho catcher Samantha Lujan. The effort scored freshman pinch runner Sarah Wulff to tie game.
Junior left fielder Sydney James then followed with a single to load the bases for senior shortstop Chelsea Convissar, who deposited a run-scoring hit down the left field line to hand Cal Poly the 2-1 lead. Senior center fielder Amanda Sandoval added a sacrifice fly before senior third baseman Stephanie Heyward closed the five-run inning with a two-run single up the middle.
Handed the lead, Casper (2-10) returned to the circle to retire seven of the next eight Gaucho hitters. She allowed three hits in the bottom of the sixth but, with the bases loaded and two down, Casper forced a fly out from Gauchos shortstop Maci Fines to close the inning.
Casper then allowed just one hit in the bottom of the seventh to earn her first victory since topping Middle Tennessee on Feb. 9.
Martin led Cal Poly with three hits in game No. 2.
During Saturday's opening game, Cal Poly took the initial lead as the Mustangs loaded the bases in the top of the first inning after freshman left fielder Noellah Ramos and junior catcher Makenna Young drew walks either side of senior third baseman Stephanie Heyward's fielder's choice. Martin then unloaded the bags with a double to center field to place Cal Poly up, 3-0.
The Gauchos, however, tied the matchup in the bottom half of the first through Altmeyer's first home run of the game – a one-out, three-run effort to center field.
Following the three-run first, Cal Poly starting righthander Chalmers retired seven of the next 10 Gauchos she faced before UC Santa Barbara moved ahead 4-3 in the third with a solo homer by center fielder Rayna Cohen.
After stranding the bases loaded in the top half of the fourth, Cal Poly tied the matchup in the fifth with junior right fielder Crimson Kaiser singling and Martin drawing a one-out walk. Two batters later, Nordin – who entered the game as a pinch hitter and with just three hits in 2018 – lined a run-scoring single through the left side of the infield.
Sophomore righthander Steffi Best (3-3) took over for Chalmers to begin the fourth with Cal Poly still trailing and allowed just three hits between the fourth and sixth innings. With Gauchos on first and second and two down in the bottom half of the sixth, James threw out UC Santa Barbara pinch runner Veronika Gulvin at home plate to preserve the 4-4 scoreline.
Best, however, took the loss after Altmeyer drove her second homer of the afternoon over the left field fence with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.