From the moment the ball left the bat and lined into left, Cal Poly’s chorus of fielders sang: “Four, four four!”
All eyes shifted to Mustangs catcher Stephanie Correia as leftfielder Nora Sobczak fired the throw in and Cal State Northridge runner Jennifer Mosier rounded third and barreled home.
The ball beat Mosier, Mosier torpedoed Correia, Correia held on, and the plate umpire signaled the last out of the fourth inning, a call that preserved a one-run lead for the Cal Poly softball team and helped the Mustangs salvage one game in the three-game series with a 2-1 win.
“I was just thinking, ‘Did I get the out,’ ” Correia said. “That was my first thing. That was my first concern, then, well, what’s hurt?
“I was just trying to hold onto the ball as hard as I could so she didn’t knock it out, and she just kind of took my wrist with it.”
Following the collision, Correia remained flattened, favoring her right arm. After a few moments with Mustangs trainer Chris Ritter and Cal Poly head coach Jenny Condon, Correia returned to the dugout and played the rest of the game with her wrist taped.
“Chris evaluated and looked at her,” Condon said. “Nothing’s broken. She took a good hit, but you’ve seen her, she’s tough. She wants to play and we put it on her. If she can go, she can go.
“We know what we get with Steph at the plate. She’ll stick it.”
After starting the day in third place, the victory moved the Mustangs (21-20, 10-5 Big West Conference) into a tie with the Matadors (26-21, 10-5) — both one game behind conference leader UC Davis (22-25, 11-5) with six games left in the regular season.
Anna Cahn got the complete-game win for Cal Poly. She gave up six hits while walking one and striking out two to improve to 11-11 on the season.
It was the first victory for Cahn, who also batted 2 for 2 with an RBI double, since April 11. She had gone winless in five straight appearances since then with an 0-2 record.
Cahn got into some trouble in the seventh. Cal State Northridge got a couple of hits in the inning, and a groundout put runners on second and third with two out.
With Rebecca Patton warm in the bullpen and waiting to come in, Cahn got Lauren Olivas to line out to Kendal Hennings at third and cinch the game.
Cahn felt she was due for a complete game.
“I was really happy because the last few games, I haven’t been able to,” Cahn said. “So, it was really nice to come out and get that.”
The victory was a turnaround from Saturday’s doubleheader, where a Cal State Northridge team with three former Cal Poly players coaching in the dugout upstaged the home team with a sweep.
The Matadors seemed to make all of the big plays, and the Mustangs stranded more than their share of runners on base, but on Sunday, Cal Poly got what it needed.
“We got ourselves in some sticky situations, and we came up with some big plays when it mattered,” Condon said, “and we came up with some timely hitting, which was great.”
Batting out of the leadoff spot for the second straight game, Patton was 1 for 3 with the other RBI, and Henning was 2 for 3 with a double and a run.
With the Big West realistically expecting only the conference champion to earn a bid to the postseason, the victory was crucial for the Mustangs, especially with conference leader UC Davis coming to Bob Janssen Field next weekend.
To win the title, Cal Poly will at the very least have to win the series with the Aggies and finish ahead of Cal State Northridge in the standings.
Sunday’s win kept the hope of a second straight NCAA regional berth alive.
“It’s good for us because it shows all of us that we know how to play our game,” Cahn said. “If we don’t get to the postseason, this is going to be the last games for the seniors. I know that’s hard for them, and I think at this point we’re just trying to come back. Six games. We can still do it.”