No. 4 Softball Heads To Arizona For Pac-10 Battles With No. 8 ASU And No. 2 Arizona
April 18, 2001
On The Horizon
This weekend, Cal heads south to the Valley of the Sun for continued Pac-10 battles between the No. 8 Arizona State Sun Devils on Friday at 7 p.m. and the No. 2 Arizona Wildcats on Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively. Looking ahead to the following week, the Bears host the Santa Clara Broncos on Wednesday, April 25, in a doubleheader to begin at 2 p.m. at Levine-Fricke Field.
Deciphering the Devils
ASU finds itself in a third-place tie with UCLA in the Pac-10 with a 5-3 record, 30-11 overall. Prior to this weekends match-up versus Cal, the Sun Devils were swept by Arizona in a two-game series over the weekend, 3-0 and 4-3. Thus far, Arizona State is led by Phelan Wright who carries a .400 batting average, good enough for ninth in the conference. As a team, ASU ranks third in the conference with a .302 batting average. In the circle, Kristen Voak and Erica Beach pick up most of the innings (247.2 of the 288.0 innings) and anchor the Devils pitching staff to a 1.07 team ERA. Cal defeated Arizona State once already this season, a 2-0 final, on March 10, at the National Invitational Softball Tournament in Sunnyvale, CA. Overall the Bears hold a 40-23 record over ASU.
What the Cats Have to Offer
Arizona enters the weekend second in the Pac-10 with a 5-2 record, 41-4 overall and riding a 32-game winning streak. Before hosting Stanford on Friday and the Bears on Saturday and Sunday, the Wildcats host No. 14 Fresno State in a doubleheader on Wednesday. U of A defeated ASU over the weekend, 3-0 and 4-3, and lead the conference in batting average (.355), ERA (0.63) and fielding percentage (.981). Lauren Bauer is tops among the Cats offensive attack, batting a league-leading .438 with 56 runs scored. Jennie Finch, who earned this weeks Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honor after going 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, leads the conference with a 0.35 ERA and an opposing batting average of 0.97. She is also 16-0 on the year. Arizona holds a 45-12 advantage over the Bears. Cal last defeated Arizona, 5-1, on May 1, 1999, with the Cats eliminating the Bears from last season's WCWS, 6-0, on May 27, 2000.
Diane Ninemire, the winningest softball coach in Golden Bear history, is in her 14th year as head coach at Cal with a school and career record of 586-305 (.658%). The 1991 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Ninemire has led the Bears to 13 NCAA Tournament berths and four College World Series appearances (1992, '96, '99, 2000). She is assisted by John Reeves, who is in his eighth season, and Kim Maher, who is in her second.
A Look at What Transpired
Last Wednesday, the Bears traveled to the state's capital for a nonconference doubleheader versus the Sacramento State Hornets. Cal took game one, 5-1, and then won the night cap, 9-1. Sophomore Courtney Scott led the Bears with six hits on the day (6-for-9), including her eighth double on the year (team high). Junior Jocelyn Forest earned the win in game one, pitching five strong innings of one-hit ball with 11 strikeouts. Sophomore Jen Deering pitched the final two innigs in relief, allowing one run on two hits while striking out three. Senior Nicole DiSalvio pitched a one -run, five-hitter throught six innings in game two, giving way to Deering in the seventh who got the final three outs in successive fashion. Cal had a combined 24 hits in both games at Sac. St - 10 in game one and 14 in game two. Over the weekend, Cal took one of three from No. 3 Stanford. The Cardinal won game one on Friday, 5-2, scoring three unearned runs in the game. Junior Candace Harper and sophomore Veronica Nelson hit back-to-back jacks in the top of the fourth for the Bears only runs. Forest pitched a two-hitter in the loss. Saturday, Cal and Stanford split a doubleheader, with the Cardinal taking game one, 5-4 and the Bears snagging the finale, 1-0. Cal committed three errors in game one allowing the Cardinal to score five unearned runs. Disalvio took the loss after pitching a five hitter with four Ks. In the night cap, Forest silenced the Stanford bats for only one hit while fanning 13. With the win, Forest improved to 23-4 on the year.
Bears Receive National Exposure
The Bears are finally getting the recognition that they deserve. Forest and Nelson have been selected by the Amateur Softball Association as two of fifty-one of the nation's finest women's fast pitch softball players to participate in the USA Softball Women's National Team Camp, May 30-June 3 at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. USA Softball will select two 16-player teams to represent the U.S. in international competitions such as the U.S. Cup in Honolulu, the Canada Cup in Vancouver and the Pan Am Qualifier in Maracay, Venezuela during the 2001 season.
Bears Continue in the Top 10
After finishing the 2000 season with a seventh-place finish at the College Wold Series and ranked seventh in the final USA Today/NFCA Poll, the Bears began the 2001 season ranked seventh in the preseason poll. With 32 consecutive wins to begin the 2001 schedule, Cal jumped to No 5 in the Feb. 21 poll, and a week later found itself ranked fourth in the Feb. 28 poll and again on March 7. The Bears then rose to No. 3 in the March 14 poll, and stayed there for three consecutive weeks. With a Pac-10 season opening sweep to Washington (once) and UCLA (twice), the Bears dropped to fifth in the April 4 poll. Last week, Cal swept Sacramento State in a midweek doubleheader and took one of three from the Stanford Cardinal. The Bears currently rank No. 4 for the second consecutive week, behind No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Arizona and No. 3 Stanford.
Nelson Looks To Put Records Out of Reach
With one swing of the bat at Stanford on April 20, Nelson set both the Cal single season home run record (15), as well as the Cal career home run record (29). Last season Nelson set the old season mark with 14, and has already surpassed that in 2001. Melanie McCart (1994-97) held the previous career mark with 28. Nelson's records stretch farther than just homers. With another 60 freebies already in 2001, Nelson holds the Cal career walk record with 147, and ranks sixth in the NCAA career all-time walk record book, just 64 free bases away from the No. 1 spot held by Terra Beyster of Oregon State with 211 (1997-2000).
Not a Bad Way To Start
The 1999 Cal squad set a school record by posting 51 wins on the year. In 2001, the Bears are just seven wins shy of tying that record. Although it won 51 games in 1999, Cal began that season, just 34-16 after 50 games, but ended the season on a tear, going 17-6 in the last 23 games to finish 51-22. This year, the Bears are an impressive 44-6 after just 50 games and still have the half of the Pac-10 schedule remaining.
Golden Bear Notes ...
Scott has thrown out a Pac-10 leading 13 baserunners ... Forest's 751 career strikeouts ranks third on the Cal career strikeout list, behind Michele Granger (1640) and Leslie Partch (982) and her 291 Ks thus far is the most since Granger fanned 484 in 1993 ... Since joining the Bears after competing on the Cal basketball team, Deering is 3-0 from the circle with a 1.36 ERA in 25.2 innings, including 30 strikeouts ... Senior Pauline Dueï¿½as sits atop the Pac-10 with 17 sacrifice bunts ... Sophomore Eryn Manahan is first on the Bears and ninth in the conference with 52 hits ... Forest (0.46) and DiSalvio (0.75) rank third and sixth, respectively in the conference in ERA ... As a team, the Bears rank fourth in the Pac-10 with a .285 batting average, and second behind Arizona with a 0.75 ERA ... After committing six errors over the weekend, Cal dropped to fourth in the conference with a .975 fielding percentage.