Softball Prepares For 16th-Consecutive Regional
May 14, 2001
Bears Earn 16th Straight NCAA Bid
With its invitation to the postseason this year, Cal is making its 16th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament - the longest on-going streak in the Pac-10. The Bears have an all-time record of 33-35 in NCAA play, including a 27-25 mark in regionals and a 6-10 record in the College World Series. Last year, Cal captured its NCAA regional at Fresno, Calif., with a 4-1 record. The Bears defeated Florida, 2-0, and Cal State Fullerton, 3-2, before losing to host and top-seeded Fresno State, 2-0. Cal then bounced back to beat Florida once again, this time 2-1, to earn a rematch with the Fresno State. Junior Nicole DiSalvio pitched one her finest games of the season, a five-hit shutout for a 2-1 win over FSU to lead the Bears to their second consecutive and fifth overall College World Series in Oklahoma City. In the WCWS, Cal lost to Oklahoma (the eventual champion), 2-1, in its first game. Arizona then ended the Bears title hopes with a 6-0 win in game two. Cal finished the 2000 season ranked seventh in the country. In the WCWS, Cal tied for third in 1999 and 1986 and tied for fifth in both 1992 and 1996.
Cal Seeded No. 2 in Regional
Cal earns a No. 2 seed, snapping a two-year streak of being seeded third at regionals. The Bears, who were ranked 6th in the latest USA Today/NFCA poll, are one of only two ranked teams in the regional. Top-seeded Florida State is rated 16th, while No. 3 seed Florida Atlantic and fourth-seeded Florida both received votes in the final poll. The remaining teams competing in Tallahassee this week are No. 5 seed Connecticut (Cal's first-round opponent) and No. 6 seed Bethune-Cookman. The first round Thursday matches Cal (49-15) against UConn (35-21), Florida State (54-10) vs. Bethune-Cookman (45-21) and Florida Atlantic (45-19) vs. Florida (36-25). Below is the regional schedule:
Thursday, May 17Game 1 - Florida State vs. BCC, 5:30 p.m.Game 2 - Cal vs. UConn, 12:30 p.m.Game 3 - Florida Atlantic vs. Florida, 3:00 p.m.Game 4 - Loser G1 vs. Loser G2, 8 p.m.Cal Returns to Florida In Different Capacity
Friday, May 18Game 5 - Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3, 3: 00 p.m.Game 6 - Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 5:30 p.m.Game 7 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 5, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 19TBA
Sunday, May 20Championship Game, 1 p.m.Championship Game Two - If Necessary, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time in the history of Cal softball, the Bears are making a trip to Tallahassee, Fla., for NCAA regional competition. Although this is the first time to Florida for postseason play, the Bears did play at Florida State last season as part of the Seminole Classic Feb. 11-13, capturing the tournament with a 5-0 finish. Both Florida State and Florida Atlantic competed in the tournament, with the Bears taking two from FSU with identical 1-0 scores and one from Florida Atlantic, 4-3.
Success Over the Opposition
Cal has not played any of the teams in its regional this season, however it has had success in the past. Connecticut is the only team with a winning series record over the Bears, winning the one and only meeting at the Capital Classic, 2-1, on March 25, 1995 in Sacramento. Cal holds a series advantage over the rest of the competition in the region, with an exception to Bethune-Cookman, who the Bears have yet to face. Cal is 6-0 over Florida State, 1-0 over Florida Atlantic and 3-1 over Florida. Most recently, Cal knocked off Florida twice, 2-0 and 2-1, eliminating the Gators from the regional in Fresno last season.
Cal's Series Records vs. Regional OpponentsFlorida State 6-0Florida 2-1Florida Atlantic 1-0UConn 0-1BCC 0-0Cal Sets School Record with 32-0 Start
Cal jumped out to the fastest start in school history when it began the 2001 season with a 32-0 record. During the run, Cal went undefeated at the UNLV Classic in Las Vegas (5-0), the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, GA (4-0), the Worth Invitational in Fullerton, CA (6-0), the National Invitational Softball Tournament in San Jose, CA (7-0) and won its first four games at the Capital Classic in Sacramento before falling to then-No. 13 Iowa, 1-0. The Bears then won their next seven gams at the Georgia Tech Buzz Classic in Marietta to enter Pac-10 play with a 39-1 record. Cal is 43-1 vs. non-Pac-10 teams this year.
Road Game + Nonconference = Success
Of the first 44 nonconference games the Bears played in 2001, only eight of them were played at home. Therefore, the other 36 contests were played either on the road or at a neutral site. During the season, the Bears participated in seven tournaments in three different states, traveling to Georgia twice. Cal started with the UNLV Classic in Las Vegas. The schedule then took them to Georgia (NFCA Leadoff Classic) before coming back to California (Worth Invitational, National Invitational Softball Tournament, Capital Classic). The Bears finally concluded their tournament play with a trip back to Georgia for the Georgia Tech Buzz Classic. Overall, Cal completed the regular season by hosting just 18 of its 64 games on Levine-Fricke Field in Berkeley. Entering the NCAA Tournament, Cal is 31-1 at neutral sites and 7-7 on opponent fields, giving the Bears a 38-8 record outside of Berkeley.
Cal Dominant Outside of Pac-10
With seven of the eight teams in the Pac-10 that sponsor softball ranked among the nation's Top 20 almost all year, the Bears found the going a bit tough in conference action, posting a 6-14 record and finishing in seventh place. But outside of the league, Cal showed its dominance by completing the regular season with a 43-1 non-conference mark. Junior Jocelyn Forest tossed two no-hitters, vs. Harvard March 25 (perfect game) and vs. UC Riverside Feb. 10. Overall, the Bears outscored their non-Pac-10 opponents by a 212-32 margin, with sophomore 1B Veronica Nelson batting .398 and sophomore 2B Eryn Manahan at .388. As a comparison, Cal was 39-7 against teams outside the Pac-10 last year.
Bears Approach Best Back-to-Back Seasons
After capturing 49 wins last season and adding another 49 victories so far this year, Cal is nearing its best back-to-back seasons win total ever. The previous best came in the last two seasons when the Bears won a school-record 51 games in 1999 and 49 in 2000 for a combined 100 wins. With a combined 98 wins already in 2000 and 2001, the Bears are approaching both the season wins mark of 51 and consecutive season mark of 100. Below is a look at the best consecutive season victory totals in school history.
Wins Years100 1999 (51) and 2000 (49)98 * 2000 (49) and 2001 (49)95 1991 (48) and 1992 (47)89 1990 (41) and 1991 (48)86 1998 (35) and 1999 (51)84 1992 (47) and 1993 (37)* Prior to regionalFrom Start to Finish, Cal Remains in Top 10
Cal has been ranked in the top 10 of the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 every week this season. The Bears ranked 7th in the preseason poll, but stayed there just until the next poll came out, when they moved up to No. 5 on Feb. 21. Cal stayed at No. 5 for just one week, moving up the ladder to No. 4 on Feb. 28, where it remained through the next week. On March 14, the Bears matched the highest they have been in school history, jumping to No. 3 and remaining there for the next three polls. Following a sweep from Washington and UCLA to open Pac-10 play, the Bears slid to No. 5 on April 4, but bounced back with two wins over Oregon the next weekend to move back up to No. 4 once again. Cal stayed stagnant at No. 4 for three weeks before dropping to No. 5 on May 2 and winding up No. 6 in the final regular season poll on May 6.
Cal in the 2000 USA Today/NFCA Softball PollPreseason 7 April 4 5Feb. 21 5 April 11 4Feb. 28 4 April 18 4March 7 4 April 25 4March 14 3 May 2 5March 21 3 May 9 6March 28 3
Veronica Nelson Approaching NCAA Walk Mark, Shatters Cal Home Run Records
Sophomore 1B Veronica Nelson is making a statement to be one of the most prolific hitters in Cal history. First, she broke her own Cal season home run record by slugging 18 during the regular season, topping the previous mark she set last season with 14 as a freshman. When she hit her 14th homer this season on April 8 versus Oregon, Nelson tied Melanie McCart for the Cal career home run record with 28. Since that day, Nelson went on to hit four more to add her name to the top of the Cal career home run list. With teams realizing how much power she possesses, opponents began walking her more often. Last season, she broke the NCAA season walk record with 87, and this season is no different, as she currently enters the NCAA regional with another 82. Thus far, Nelson leads all active players in the NCAA with 169 career walks, just 42 freebies away from Tarrah Beyster's (Oregon State, 1997-2000) 211 career base on balls.
Bears Youth in 2000 Leads to Experience in 2001
The 2000 squad regularly started at least four freshmen and ended the season with five rookies in the lineup. Catcher Courtney Scott and shortstop Eryn Manahan started every game at their respective positions, while Veronica Nelson started all but one game at first base. Pitcher Jennifer Deering accumulated a perfect 9-0 record inside the circle and also doubled as a DP, and redshirt-freshman Kristen Morley appeared in 51 contests, mostly in the outfield or as designated player. Mikella Pedretti also added a solid bat to the lineup and a quality glove in the outfield. This season, those players that contributed as freshmen in 2000, have an even greater role in the 2001 lineup. Manahan has once again been penciled in the lineup as a starter in all 64 games this year, this time at second base, while Nelson has played in every game and has been the starting first baseman 63 times. Scott, who injured her wrist on May 5 after starting the first 59 games, sat out for the fist time in her Cal career. After a one-game absence, she came back to start the final four games of the year. Morley, Deering and Pedretti have also brought experience back to the starting lineup - Morley started 59 games in the outfield, Deering started 24 times, either as the DP or in the circle, while Pedretti has 47 starts in the outfield or as the DP. With the added experience returning for the 2001 campaign, Cal has won at least 45 games for the seventh time in school history.
Phillips Hopes To Be 100% For Stretch Run
Senior Amber Phillips injured her shoulder after plowing into the center field fence at the Buzz Classic on March 24, and did not return until April 13 versus Stanford when she entered the game as a pinch runner. The next day, she went 3-for-5 in a doubleheader versus the same Cardinal and continued that pace until the next weekend when she made a spectacular diving catch at Arizona, robbing a would-be extra base hit and maintained a scoreless tie at the time. During the catch, the leader in centerfield reinjured her shoulder and did not return until May 11 in a trip to Oregon and Oregon State, where she was used strictly as the DP. Phillips, the only full-time starter with a 1.000 fielding percentage, hopes to return to center by the time regionals begin. She currently is second on the team with a.318 batting average and is 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts.
DiSalvio and Forest...Enough Said
The Cal pitching staff is the backbone to the Bears success in 2001 with a team ERA of 1.02. Senior Nicole DiSalvio and junior Jocelyn Forest are the main contributing factors to the pitching success, claiming a combined 43 of the team's 49 wins. Forest boasts a team-best 25-7 record and 0.73 ERA, while DiSalvio enters the regional with an 18-7 record and 0.97 ERA. Forest and DiSalvio are the first Cal pitchers to have ERAs under 1.00 since Michele Granger (1990-93) recorded an 0.50 ERA during the 1993 season. If these numbers are not enough to back the claim, Forest adds a conference-high 331 strikeouts and earlier in the year, went 88 consecutive innings without allowing a run (sixth all-time in NCAA history). In addition, Forest, a Santa Maria native, threw her second career nohitter versus UC Riverside on Feb. 10 to open the 2001 season and then tossed a perfect game versus Harvard in the championship game of the Georgia Tech Buzz Classic on March 25.
Harper Stays Hot in the Corner
Sophomore Candace Harper came to Cal before the 1999 season after starring as a shortstop at Stockton's Lincoln HS. But since her arrival in Berkeley, she has found a home at third base. As a freshman, Harper earned second team All-Pac-10 and NCAA all-regional honors after batting .304 with five doubles, four homers and 24 RBI. Last year, her numbers were even better, batting .304 once again, but adding 17 doubles, five home runs and 38 RBI, claiming second team all-league once again. This season, Harper is again adding pop to the Bears offense and stability to the hot corner. Entering the regional, Harper is batting .308 with 32 runs, 61 hits, eight doubles and four home runs, and has committed just five errors for a .966 fielding percentage, on the way to earning honorable mention all-conference honors.
Manahan Makes the Move
Last season's starting shortstop Eryn Manahan has made a successful move to the other side of the infield for the 2001 campaign. Starting all 64 games for the Bears at second base, Manahan appears to have found a new home where she can thrive. Thus far, the sophomore from Tustin, has committed just 11 errors and assisted in 83 plays. Offensively, Manahan has been moved throughout the lineup, while maintaining a healthy .304 average with a team-high 63 hits. More impressively, Manahan hit in a team and career-high 10 consecutive ballgames earlier in the year (Feb. 28-March 6).
Forest earned her second Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honor after going a perfect 3-0 at the Georgia Tech Buzz Classic, including her first career perfect game, March 23-25. Forest allowed no earned runs while striking out 30 opposing batters in 18 innings. Forest earned the same honor after going 5-0 with two saves at the National Invitational Softball Tournament March 9-11. A week later, senior Pauline Dueï¿½as earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors, the first such honor in her career. Dueï¿½as earned the distinction after she batted .375 (6-for-16) at the Capital Classic in Sacramento, CA, with two doubles, six runs and six RBI, March 15-18.
Seven Cal players earned mention on the All-Pac-10 teams, led by first teamers Jocelyn Forest and Veronica Nelson. In addition, pitcher Nicole DiSalvio earned second team honors and seniors Paige Bowie and Amber Phillips, junior Candace Harper and sophomore Eryn Manahan were all voted honorable mention. Bowie's success reaches beyond just the field of play, earning 2001 Verizon Academic All-District VIII honors, matching the same honor she earned as a sophomore in 1999.
Golden Bear Notes
Sophomore Jen Deering is 4-1 on the year, earning her first career Pac-10 win in a 6-3 victory over Washington on April 29 ... The Bears have a fielding percentage of .973 this season, .001 better than the previous season-high mark of .972 set in 1980 and again in 2000 ... If sophomore Veronica Nelson can maintain her .364 batting average, it will be the highest for any Cal player since Gillian Boxx hit a school-record .466 in 1995 ... Senior Pauline Dueï¿½as is leading the Pac-10 with 20 sacrifice bunts ... Forest had a career-high 18 strikeouts versus Purdue on March 15 and has fanned 10 or more batters 16 times this season, and now ranks third on Cal's career strikeout list with 791 Ks.
Probable LineupSS 3 Paige Bowie So. .286, 33 runs, 10 2B, 2 HRLF 1 Pauline Dueï¿½as Sr. .247, 31 runs, 6 2B, 20 SH3B 12 Candace Harper Jr. .308, 32 runs, 4 HR, 31 RBI1B 17 Veronica Nelson So. .364, 18 HR, 49 RBI, 82 walks2B 20 Eryn Manahan So. .304, 21 runs, 7 doubles, 1 HRC 4 Courtney Scott So. .255, 10 doubles, 1 HRDP 11 Amber Phillips Sr. .318, 22 runs, 2 triplesLF 25 Jen Deering So. .197, 9 runs, 3 doubles, 1 HRRF 23 Kristen Morley So. .238, 29 runs, 1 double, 14 RBI