The moment Krysten Cary saw the softball leave the infield from her perch on second base, she knew nothing would stop her from barreling toward home.
In a tie game, something got in the Cal Poly senior’s way to the plate.
Cal State Fullerton catcher Morgan Lemond received a strong relay throw from right field a few feet up the third-base line and tagged Cary with her glove as she ran by to send the first game of a Saturday doubleheader into extra innings at Bob Janssen Field.
“I felt us bump shoulders,” Cary said. “I wasn’t sure if it was her glove to my shoulder, or if it was shoulder to shoulder. I know something touched me, but everyone was like, ‘She didn’t have the ball.’ ”
After the home plate umpire originally called Cary out, seeing the tag from behind, the crew convened at the request of Mustangs coach Jenny Condon.
The third-base umpire confirmed that Lemond tagged Cary with her gloved left hand — while the yellow ball remained in the catcher’s right.
“It was a great feeling,” Cary said.
Cal Poly took a 7-6 win, used the momentum to earn a 3-0 victory in Game 2 and got big contributions at the plate from Cary and in the circle from freshman pitcher Rebecca Patton, who was credited with both decisions. Before the overturned call, the Titans made a four-run rally to tie the score in the top of the seventh and were already celebrating home plate umpire Dennis Wren’s out call.
“I just asked him because he said she tagged her,” Condon said. “I didn’t think she tagged her, but then I just really didn’t think she had control.
“It’s a gutsy call. I feel like they made the right call because it went our way, but I was prepared for it to go the other way and for us to go back out on the field and play extra innings.”
Prior to the comeback by Cal State Fullerton (9-31, 4-4 Big West Conference), it appeared Cal Poly (17-17, 6-2 Big West) was well on its way to victory and junior pitcher Anna Cahn all but assured of her third consecutive win.
Coming off her eighth career Big West Pitcher of the Week award after going 2-0 at UC Santa Barbara last weekend, Cahn was leading 6-2 before a walk, a hit batter and a fielding error led to a Titans run.
A two-run single cut the lead to one, and a double put the tying run on third base as Cahn left in favor of Patton.
Patton allowed the tying run to score when a pitch in the dirt got past Cal Poly catcher Stephanie Correia, but it was Patton’s opposite-field single to right in the next half-inning that scored Cary for the winning run.
After starting the season 1-4, Patton improved to 5-4 overall after throwing a four-hit shutout in the second game, but she would have rather had a win and a save.
“We had bases open so we didn’t want to leave a pitch up that she could hit and potentially bring in that runner,” Patton said of the passed ball. “She scored anyways, but we were hoping the hitter would chase it.”
Cary ended the day 4 for 7 at the plate with the run, and freshman right fielder Dana Perez was 3 for 6 with a double and two RBI. Cary upped her batting average to .333, and Perez has been the Mustangs’ hottest hitter in Big West play.
Entering the series in a three-way tie with Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside for first place in the Big West, Cal Poly dropped the Titans to two games back of the lead and remains tied with the Highlanders, who swept UC Santa Barbara.
Cal Poly’s recent five-game winning streak and stretch of victories in six of the past seven, represents a significant turnaround. With six first-year starters in the lineup, the Mustangs have been up and down and even endured an eight-game losing streak that stretched into Big West play.
“I’d definitely say that we’ve all come together as a family,” Patton said. “We’re getting to know each other better on the field. We’ve all been friends, but the chemistry on the field is better, and that’s helping us win games.”
Big West SOFTBALL standings
Big West games All games
W L PCT. W L PCT.
Cal Poly 6 2 .750 17 17 .500
UC Riverside 6 2 .750 21 20 .512
UC Davis 5 2 .714 16 23 .410
Cal State Northridge 4 4 .500 20 20 .500
Cal State Fullerton 4 4 .500 9 31 .225
Pacific 3 4 .429 17 23 .425
Long Beach State 3 5 .375 19 20 .487
UC Santa Barbara 0 8 .000 9 30 .231
Cal Poly 7-3, Cal State Fullerton 6-0; UC Davis 5-2, Long Beach State 0-0; Cal State Northridge 2-12, Pacific 1-7, second game 8 innings; UC Riverside 7-4, UC Santa Barbara 2-1.