With all nine starters coming back this spring, the Cal Poly softball team released its schedule for the 2016 season Thursday afternoon.
The Mustangs, who return three all-Big West Conference performers from last year’s 22-33 team, will begin the season at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., for the sixth consecutive year.
Cal Poly will play three-time defending Pac-12 champion Oregon in its season opener Feb. 12, one of 14 teams on the Mustangs’ schedule that qualified for the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
At the five-game Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City the following weekend, the Mustangs are scheduled to play 11-time national champion UCLA, Notre Dame and eight-time national champion Arizona. Cal Poly will participate in the Libby Matson Tournament in Stockton the last week of February.
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The ShareSLO Mustang Classic is scheduled for March 4-6 at Bob Janssen Field, with Weber State, Toledo and Saint Peter’s set to visit San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly will compete in the Louisville Slugger Classic in Stanford and the San Diego Classic, and close out its nonconference schedule with a doubleheader at Loyola Marymount on March 22.
Big West play begins April 2, when the Mustangs travel to UC Santa Barbara for a three-game series. Cal Poly will host Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, UC Davis and UC Riverside in conference play this season.
The NCAA Tournament regional rounds are scheduled to begin May 20.
Mustang women to play CSU Bakersfield
The Cal Poly women’s basketball team got a career-best performance from senior point guard Lisa Marie Sanchez during Thursday night’s overtime loss at Saint Mary’s.
The 5-foot-3 Bakersfield native scored 25 points on 8 of 11 shooting, including a 6 for 7 mark from behind the 3-point line. Sanchez also handed out a game-high nine assists for the Mustangs, who saw their four-game winning streak come to an end.
Cal Poly (6-3) continues its three-game road trip at 1 p.m. Saturday against a sliding CSU Bakersfield team that is 1-9 this season and has lost eight straight contests. The Roadrunners are coming off a 75-51 loss at No. 7-ranked Oregon State on Tuesday.
Batabe Zempare has been one of the bright spots this season for CSU Bakersfield, and the 6-2 forward from Ghana is averaging a double-double with 12.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in less than 30 minutes per game.
Three Mustangs average double-digit scoring this season in senior Beth Balbierz (12.8), Sanchez (12.0) and junior Hannah Gilbert (11.3).
Cal Poly finishes its road trip against the defending Pac-12 champion Beavers at 3 p.m. Monday inside Gill Coliseum.