Softball to Face No. 1 Arizona in College World Series Opener
May 21, 2001
BERKELEY - The Cal softball team opens Women's College World Series play against top-ranked and No. 1 seed Arizona on Thursday at 8 a.m. Pacific Time in Oklahoma City. The game will be televised live by ESPN2.
The Bears (53-16) are making their third consecutive appearance in the WCWS and sixth overall. Cal advanced to the eight-team finals by winning its regional in Tallahassee, Fla., over the weekend, capping the tournament with a dramatic 3-2, 10-inning victory over Florida State Sunday.
The Bears, who are seeded eighth at the WCWS, are set to face Arizona (61-4) for the third straight time in the College World Series. The Wildcats beat Cal in the opening round in 1999, 3-0, then eliminated the Bears last year, 6-0. The Bears also lost to Arizona, 2-1, in a WCWS elimination game in 1992.
Cal didn't have much success against Arizona during the 2001 regular season either. The Bears fell by a pair of 2-1 scores in Tucson and lost, 5-0, in Berkeley.
If Cal can upset Arizona, the Bears would face the Michigan-Oklahoma winner Friday at 4 p.m. PT. A loss sends Cal to an elimination game vs. the Michigan-Oklahoma loser Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.
The other four qualifiers for the double-elimination tournament are UCLA, Iowa, Stanford and LSU.
Cal's best finish in the WCWS is a tied for third, a feat the Bears accomplished in both 1986 and 1992. Cal tied for fifth in 1992 and 1996 and tied for seventh last season.
This year, the Bears have set a school record with their 53 wins. Sophomore first baseman Veronica Nelson leads the team in batting (.352), home runs (school-record 18), RBI (50) and walks (NCAA-record 88). Senior center fielder Amber Phillips, who was named Most Outstanding Player at the regional in Florida, is batting .328.