If the Cal Poly baseball team wants to host another NCAA regional, the Mustangs are going to have to earn it on the road.
Four months after Cal Poly won its first Big West Conference baseball title and hosted the first postseason event in Division I program history, the Mustangs unveiled a schedule with plenty of challenging games away from home.
Included in the nonconference slate for the upcoming season are road trips for three-game series at TCU, Oregon State and Baylor. Cal Poly will also travel to Cal State State Fullerton and UC Irvine in Big West play.
“Another very challenging schedule, especially playing some high-quality teams on the road,” Mustangs head coach Larry Lee said. “Playing at Baylor, at TCU and at Oregon State will prepare us well for conference, and we need to be ready from the start.”
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It will indeed be a challenging follow-up to last season, when the Mustangs shattered the school record for victories by finishing 47-12.
UC Irvine and TCU advanced to the College World Series and tied for fifth. Oregon State was ranked No. 1 last season before Irvine won that regional to advance. The Titans snuck into a regional with a late-season surge to extend their record streak of annual postseason appearances to 23 years.
Cal Poly will open the season with three games at Baylor on Feb. 13. The Mustangs return to Texas to take on TCU on Feb. 27. The Oregon State series, which begins March 26, is the final weekend before the start of conference play, and Cal Poly opens the Big West season with the trip to Fullerton on April 2.
Cal Poly will also host San Luis Obispo Regional participant Sacramento State beginning on March 13 for a nonconference series, and Big West foe Long Beach State, which also made a regional last season, will be visiting Baggett Stadium this season on April 24. USC visits for a three-game nonconference series starting March 20.
New-look Mustangs might be more up-tempo
From Kristina Santiago to Molly Schlemer, the Cal Poly women’s basketball team has had a premier post player to lean on for six of the past seven years.
This season, with the return of Ariana Elegado for a fifth season of eligibility, the Mustangs are planning to be more guard-oriented than in years past, and head coach Faith Mimnaugh said it will allow the team to be quicker as the team opened practice Tuesday.
“We’re going to be a different team,” Mimnaugh said, “but we’re going to be very uptempo, maybe even more so, and possibly do some things defensively that we weren’t needing to do in the past.”
Mimnaugh said plans included expansion of the defense intended to cause some havoc. The Mustangs aren’t completely devoid of height. Sophomore Morro Bay High product Hannah Gilbert is 6-foot-3 and projected to start at center.
But the strength of the team will veer toward the guards, who are led by senior sharpshooters Elegado and Kristen Ale. Cal Poly also added state title-winning Ventura College transfer Lisa Marie Sanchez at point guard.
“Gilbert is finding her way in that kind of a role,” Mimnaugh said. “Although for now we’re not coming down and dumping it into the paint. We’re trying to create a little more motion, get the ball in the hand of the penetrators, get to the free-throw line, get some penetration-kick, obviously utilizing a great player in Elegado. She is awesome and certainly somebody I think has a chance to compete for player of the year this year.”
The Mustangs open the season at Fresno State on Nov. 16.
Mustangs head back on the road
The Cal Poly volleyball team has had good success at Mott Athletics Center, going 5-2 in San Luis Obispo.
But with a 1-5 record away from home and facing six of the next eight Big West matches on the road, the Mustangs need to figure out how to win away from San Luis Obispo to keep pace in the conference.
The key to success could be filling downtime, head coach Sam Crosson said.
“It’s somewhat nice that school started because we can have some study hall on the road to kind of get their minds on something else besides volleyball and get them a little focus as well,” Crosson said.
“Overall, it’s just keeping them occupied. It’s the hardest part because you have so much downtime because you’re not at home, and you’re not at class.”