CATHEDRAL CITY – Sophomore righthander Shelby Jeffries (above) struck out seven Utah hitters without a walk Sunday afternoon, but the 21st-ranked Utes overturned the Cal Poly softball program's early lead during second-day action at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic as the Mustangs dropped a 7-2 decision. Cal Poly also fell during the second game of Sunday's doubleheader at Big League Dreams Sports Park to No. 23 California, 9-1, in five innings.
During Sunday's opening game versus No. 21 Utah (4-4), Jeffries (0-1) – making just her second career start – retired Utah in order during the bottom half of the first inning and Cal Poly grabbed the early lead in the second. Sophomore second baseman Alyssa McKiernan reached following a fielding error by Utah starting pitcher Miranda Viramontes before moving to second on a wild pitch. Viramontes then walked junior catcher Makenna Young and senior center fielder Amanda Sandoval to load the bases. Back at the top of the Mustang lineup, senior shortstop Chelsea Convissar grounded out to plate McKiernan.
Utah, however, equalized in the bottom half of the second with shortstop Abby Robertson doubling with two down to score catcher Kelly Martinez. The Utes then surged ahead with two more runs in the third through run-scoring hits by center fielder Alyssa Barrera and left fielder Hailey Hilburn.
The Mustangs (4-5) trimmed Utah's lead to 3-2 in the top of the fourth as Sandoval singled through the right side of the infield with one out to plate freshman pinch runner Sarah Wulff. The Utes though scored three more times in the fifth to strengthen their lead and once more in the sixth for the final scoreline.
Senior third baseman Stephanie Heyward produced a team leading two hits for Cal Poly versus Utah.
During Sunday's second matchup versus No. 23 California (9-0), the Golden Bears notched their opening run in the top of the first inning and two more in the second to lead from the onset.
Cal Poly enjoyed singles in the first from junior catcher Noa Yakir and during the second by junior left fielder Sydney James before breaking through in the bottom of the third against California starting righthander Zoe Conley (5-0) as Convissar swatted the program's first home run of 2018.
California, however, responded with three runs in the top of the fourth before right fielder Bradie Fillmore hit a three-run homer in the fifth to help hand the Golden Bears the run-rule decision.
Freshman righthander Dakota Casper (1-2) took the loss for Cal Poly despite not walking a California hitter.
James paced Cal Poly with two hits versus California.
Cal Poly closes Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic action on Monday, Feb. 19 versus Syracuse at 8:30 a.m.
Photo courtesy of Arionne Thomas