No. 5 California Attends UCSB Invitational

Feb. 18, 2002

BERKELEY -

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WHATS ON TAP: The red-hot Golden Bears (10-4) visit the UCSB 'Softball by the Beach' Invitational for five contests this weekend. California squares off against Bay Area foe Santa Clara in the opening matchup, followed by a rematch with BYU, in the second game Friday. On Saturday, the Bears face, host UCSB in the first game and Cal Poly in the late game. On the final day, Cal plays Big Ten club Illinois at 9 a.m.

THE WEEK THAT WAS: After opening the tournament schedule with a disappointing 2-3 record at the Fiesta Bowl Classic, the Bears rebounded to take an impressive six-game sweep of the UNLV Softball Classic last weekend. Among the casualties during Cal's streak was fourth-ranked LSU, which was blanked, 3-0, by senior Jocelyn Forest, who struck out eight batters in a seven-inning effort. The Bears also came from behind in a 10-2 decision against Kent State and an 8-4 win over Kansas. They also won in convincing fashion, blanking UC Riverside, 3-0, and Portland State, 8-0. Cal beat BYU in the opener, 5-2. Senior third baseman Candace Harper went 12-for-23 with 10 RBI on the weekend.

BEARS COMING TOGETHER: In three days, Cal won more games than it had in 15 days. Perhaps the early season struggles could be attributed to the nine newcomers on the team learning to gel together, or it could just be the sense of urgency brought on by the four tough losses. What the Bears couldn't do in their first eight games - bring in runners on base - Cal did with ease last weekend. In six games, the team had 31 RBI's as opposed to just 18 in the first eight games.

ELDREDGE BRINGS THE GOODS: Freshman Kaleo Eldredge has done many things to help put up the W's for Cal. The Hawaiian sensation has stolen bases and laid down timely bunts, whether for a sacrifice effort or to leg out a hit. For the second straight weekend, Eldredge has been the most consistent player. She had 10 hits at the UNLV Classic and now has 20 hits in 44 attempts his season. Eldredge also has seven multi-hit games including a 3-for-5 effort against Kent State. She is currently on a nine-game hitting streak and has failed to reach base just once this year.

HARPER HYPE: Candace Harper had just one RBI in the first eight games, but with 12 hits last weekend, the 2001 Pac-10 honorable mention has exploded offensively. More importantly, Harpers' hits have come at opportune times as she collected 10 RBI's in the last six games. She is second on the team in hits and has gone hitless in just two games this season. Harper has hit safely in the last six games.

NELSON WALKS CLOSER TO RECORD: Records are meant to be broken, but for junior Veronica M. Nelson, it's only fitting that Cal's all-time single season home run leader will shatter one. She needs just 10 more walks to break Tarrah Beyster's record (211) set between 1997-2000. Nelson, just a junior, has almost two years to re-write the walk record.

SCOTT IS HOT: Junior catcher Courtney Scott has had some early success, and as a result, teams have settled on pitching around her. She drew seven walks in Las Vegas including two walks each against BYU, UC Riverside and Kent State. At times when she was given pitches to hit, Scott capitalized on the situation going 6-for-15 in the six games and three RBI's.

SCOUTING THE TOURNAMENT FIELD: On Friday, Cal faces West Coast Conference representative Santa Clara (7-6) in the first game of the tournament. The Broncos are led by Roni Rivera, who leads the team in batting with a .333 average. Deanna Rodriguez leads the pitching staff with a 2.33 ERA and a record of 3-2 in 24 innings. In the second game, the Bears face a familiar foe in BYU (4-4). The Cougars dropped games to Pac-10 teams Oregon State, UCLA and the Bears before defeating Nebraska in the last game of the UNLV Softball Classic. BYU is led by All-American Oli Keohohou and coached by Mary Kay Amicone in her second year with the Cougars.

On the second day of the tournament, the first game pits Cal against host, UCSB (6-9), who also faces BYU, Providence and Iowa State before facing the Bears. The Gauchos strung together a four-game winning streak earlier in the season, but has since been on a tailspin, losing six consecutive games to date. Julie Tamai and Ashley Groefsema lead the team in hitting with a .372 and .314 average, respectively. Pitcher Loren Thornburg leads the team with 10 appearances and 52.2 innings pitched. She has an ERA of 3.76 and has struck out 51 batters. Head coach Kristy Schroeder is in her first year at the helm of the UCSB program. In the night cap, Cal faces another central coast school in Cal Poly (6-4). Holly Ballard leads the team in hitting with a whopping .485 batting average with 16 total hits and a team-leading seven RBI's. The Mustangs are coached by Lisa Boyer in her 14th season at Cal Poly.

On the last day of the tournament, the Bears face Illinois (6-3). The Illini are led by Lindsey Hamma, who leads the team in hits with 11 and runs scored with 10. Catcher Janna Sartini has collected 8 hits, 2 home runs and 11 RBIs in 10 games and Amanda Fortune is anchoring the pitching staff with a 1.97 ERA in 32 innings of work. Head coach Terri Sullivan is in her fourth year with Illinois.

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