When the two were freshman, senior outfielders Nora Sobczak and Nicole Lund were a part of one of the best Cal Poly softball teams in history.
In 2009, they saw even greater success, before going 2-2 in the Palo Alto Regional of the Women’s College World Series.
This season, if the Mustangs want to clinch the team’s third postseason berth, Sobczak and Lund will play a big part of it.
“They’ve actually gotten a taste of it so they know what it takes and they were a part of it,” Cal Poly head coach Jenny Condon said. “So this year, all their experience and the exposure they’ve had to success, I think that it’s trickling down into the program.”
With a team expected to start four sophomores in the infield, the Cal Poly softball team opens its season today against Portland State during the first day of the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., hoping to put last year’s struggles behind them.
“There is a lot of things that are different this year, but the biggest thing for us is that we’ve gotten back to a competitive nature,” Condon said. “We’re here to win, we’re here to compete, we’re here to do it the right way.”
They’ll have to do so without Anna Cahn, who last year became the first player in program history to earn all-Big West honors in each of her four seasons.
It won’t be easy. She was arguably their best player, leading the Mustangs with a .318 batting average and 14 home runs — 10 better than the next closest hitter.
Cal Poly plans to fight that gap with balance.
“I honestly think we are going to be well-balanced,” Condon said. “There’s a lot of unknowns, but there is an excitement there to get out on the field and kinda see what we have. We’ve worked hard all year, now we’re going to go out and prove it to ourselves.”
The Mustangs will have to prove to themselves that they’re not that same team as last year, which posted one of the worst statistical seasons in program history. The Mustangs went 11-36 (7-14 Big West) en route to a seventh-place finish in the Big West. They ranked last in almost every offensive category, including batting average (.233) and runs scored (138).
The Mustangs, however, are convinced those woes are behind them.
“Last year was last year, we wiped the slate clean,” junior pitcher Rebecca Patton said. “We’re just ready for a new season, a new start.”Patton stepped up big for the Mustangs last year. In her second year with Cal Poly, she finished with a team-best 4.38 ERA and 107 strikeouts.
Now, in her third year, she’s ready for more success.
“I think that with each year I am getting better,” Patton said. “I am learning more and more about myself, as a player and as a teammate. I am just growing with each season and am excited for this year.”
At the plate, the Mustangs are expecting big things from Sobczak, who was second on the team with a .315 batting average. Sobczak and Lund, who hit .245 with 20 RBI, are expected to be a few of the Mustangs key contributors on offense this year.
Not only that, according to Condon, their leadership will play a big part of how well the Mustangs do this season.
“I think that we’re going to do a lot of things right,” Condon said. “I’ve got a good feeling about this team. They’ve put in all the hard work. Really, the sky is the limit for this team.”