UNLV Softball Classic On the Horizon for No. 5 California

Feb. 11, 2002

BERKELEY -

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WHATS ON TAP: The fifth-ranked Bears (4-4) travel to Las Vegas to take part in the UNLV Softball Classic. Highlighting Cal's schedule is an opening game against BYU Friday at noon and a clash with preseason No. 4 Louisiana State, Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The Bears also face UC Riverside, Kent State, Portland State and have a rematch with Kansas.

THE WEEK THAT WAS: Last weekend's games could be summed up with two words - missed opportunities. The Bears went 2-3 in the Fiesta Bowl Classic held in Phoenix, Ariz. last weekend. Cal left a combined 43 runners on base including 11 against No. 19 Fresno State, which defeated the Bears, 1-0 in the opening game of the tournament. Cal's two wins did display a brief glimpse as to how its offense could be, as the Bears took down Kansas, 6-2, Friday evening and UNLV, 5-0, Saturday night. Cal outscored its opponent, 11-2, in victories and was edged 6-3 in losses. However, the Bears proved that they had some pitching depth as freshman Cassie Bobrow and junior Jenn Deering each collected a win in Arizona. With senior Jocelyn Forest sidelined with flu symptoms, Deering picked up much of the slack, pitching 17.1 innings over the weekend. She struck out a combined 10 batters, walked just three and gave up 14 hits in three games. Bobrow pitched a seven-inning gem Saturday versus the Rebels, striking out five, walking none and scattering five hits in her collegiate debut. Freshman Kelly Anderson also made her first appearance Sunday, striking out three batters, walking three and giving up two hits against Southwest Texas.

DIANE NINEMIRE REACHES 600: Diane Ninemire, in her 15th year at Cal, reached the 600-win plateau last weekend in a 6-2 win over Kansas. She started off the 2002 season with 597 victories and after a double header sweep of Sacramento State two weeks ago, needed just one more win. After losing to Fresno State in the opening game of the Fiesta Bowl Classic, Ninemire reached 600 wins against the Jayhawks. Currently, she sits at 601 wins.

SCOTT IS HOT: Although her teammates as a whole had some difficulty bringing in runners on base, junior catcher Courtney Scott had little trouble performing in the clutch. The Fresno native drove in five runs last weekend and now leads the team in RBI's with seven. Scott is also second on the team in batting with a .333 average. She is also hitting the same percentage with men on base (5-for-15) and .500 when the bases are loaded (2-for-4).

ELDREDGE SCORCHES OPPONENTS: In more ways than one, freshman center fielder Kaleo Eldredge has burned the opposition. She has legged out a number of infield hits and has stolen bases against unsuspecting pitchers. Eldredge has four steals in eight games and also has moved over runners with three sacrifice bunts so far. With 10 hits in 24 at-bats, she leads the team in batting average with a .417 clip.

NELSON WALKS CLOSER TO RECORD: With 10 walks in just six games, junior All-American first baseman Veronica M. Nelson has 190 base on balls in her career. She needs just 22 walks to break Tarrah Beyster's record (211) set between 1997-2000. Nelson, who hit her first home run of the season against Kansas last weekend, also holds Cal's season record for homers with 19, which she set last season.

SCOUTING THE TOURNAMENT FIELD: The Bears open the tournament Friday with a noon game versus BYU (3-1). The Cougars defeated Southern Utah, Oregon State, St. Mary's, while dropping a contest to San Diego in the Thunderbird Classic. BYU is led by All-American Oli Keohohou and coached by Mary Kay Amicone in her second year with the Cougars.

After facing BYU, Cal takes on upstart UC Riverside (2-6) at 3 p.m. The Highlanders are led by a pair of sisters in senior center fielder Kiara Burneleit and freshman second baseman Karli Burneleit. Freshman first basemen Kolby Kelly has played all eight games for UC Riverside and carries the second highest batting average at .286. In the circle, Jenell Jackson (2-2) and Monique Baeza (0-4) lead the Highlanders.

Kent State (0-0) returns 12 letterwinners and 10 starters for the 2002 season. The whole infield returns, led by third team All-American shortstop Marci Ridenbaugh, who hit. 361, three homers and collected 20 RBI's. Sophomores Kate Leary and Tracie Logar head the pitching rotation. Leary struck out 138 batters last year in 136 innings. Logar had the second lowest ERA in 2001 (1.52).

The second game Saturday afternoon looks to be the Bears' toughest matchup so far in 2002 as Cal sets to take on Fourth-ranked LSU (4-1) at 5:30 p.m. The Tigers are led by pitcher Britni Sneed, who pitched a no-hitter last Sunday versus Western Michigan (W, 2-0). She has a 2-1 record on the year with a 2.34 ERA. Kristin Schmidt has also been impressive in the circle with an ERA of 0.36 and a 2-0 mark. On offense, Blair Smith leads LSU with a .400 batting average. Trena Peel is second on the squad in hitting and leads the team with five RBI.

Although Portland State (0-0) lost sluggers Kiauna Anderson and Marissa Smith to graduation, the Vikings still boast a deep lineup. The middle infield combination of shortstop Vanessa Applegate and second baseman Megumi Hackett will give PSU a stalwart defense. The Vikings don't have one standout player but have a host of athletes that provide depth at almost every position. Head coach Teri Mariani is in her 26th season at PSU. The Vikings are in just their fourth year as a Division I program.

In Cal's last game at the UNLV Softball Classic, it will take on Kansas (3-2) at noon. In their previous meeting this year, the Bears prevailed, 6-2, at the Fiesta Bowl Classic as coach Diane Ninemire collected her 600th win of her career. The Jayhawks feature 15 returning letterwinners and eight starters in 2002.

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