No. 6 California Visits No. 2 Arizona, No. 5 ASU
April 29, 2002
WHATS ON TAP: After going 3-2 last week against Saint Mary's, No. 1 UCLA and No. 8 Washington, the sixth-ranked Golden Bears (45-16, 9-6 Pac-10) travel to Arizona to face two more highly ranked teams in Arizona and Arizona State. California is sandwiched in between the two Arizona schools in the Pac-10 standings as Arizona is in second place with a 11-3 record, while the Sun Devils are in fourth place, just half a game behind the Bears with a 8-6 conference mark.
THE WEEK THAT WAS: After a doubleheader sweep of Saint Mary's, 3-0 and 4-0, Wednesday, Cal had another tough test just a week after facing then-No. 1 Arizona. Top-ranked UCLA came into Berkeley and defeated the Bears 3-0 to complete the season sweep. Cal was shutout by a combined score of 7-0 in three games this year against the Bruins. Last Saturday vs. No. 8 Washington, the Bears handed the Huskies a 6-3 victory after committing five errors. UW returned the favor last Sunday as it committed three errors of its own to help Cal to its ninth conference win of the season.
FOREST COLLECTS 20TH WIN OF THE YEAR: Senior pitcher and 2001 All-American Jocelyn Forest earned her 20th win of the year against the Huskies last Sunday. Forest, who has won 20 or more games in all four seasons at Cal is in select company. She is the only other pitcher in Cal history with the exception of Olympian Michele Granger to win 20 games a year all four seasons. Forest also struck out 17 batters on Sunday, which was a season-high, and just one strikeout shy of matching her career-best. She now has 299 strikeouts in 2002 and 1123 in her career, which ranks her second all-time, also, behind Granger (1640).
NELSON WEARS DOWN FIRST BASE LINE: Even with junior Courtney Scott, Cal's RBI leader (40) hitting behind her, junior All-American Veronica Nelson is still drawing walks well into a competitive Pac-10 season where runners on base are at a premium. After breaking the NCAA career walk mark, March 2 vs. Cal State Fullerton, Nelson is looking to break her own single season NCAA walk record set each of her last two seasons. With 85 walks in 59 games, Nelson needs just nine walks to break the single season mark. She now has tallied a record 265 base on balls in her career.
PAC-10 TITLE IN STRIKING DISTANCE: With six games left in conference play and just three games behind league leader UCLA in the standings, the Bears are still in the hunt for their first Pac-10 Championship since the first year of Pac-10 softball in 1987. Cal is two and a half games behind Arizona (44-7, 11-3 Pac-10) and three games behind UCLA (44-6, 12-3 Pac-10) for the top spot with an 9-6 mark. Trailing behind the Bears is ASU at 8-6.
SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats (44-7, 11-3 Pac-10), who face Arizona State Tuesday, are led by Lovie Jung (.392, 60 H, 10 2B, 14 HR .758 SLG, 8 SB), Jennie Finch (.353, 15 HR, 52 RBI, .719 SLG) and Leneah Manuma (.339, 17 HR, 62 RBI, .772 SLG). In the circle, Finch (26-2, 0.79 ERA, 275 SO) draws most of the starts against top competitors. In the last meeting, Cal swept the two-game set in Berkeley, 5-2 and 2-1, handing Finch only her second loss in 66 appearances in the second game. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 49-14.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: No. 5 Arizona State (38-13, 8-6 Pac-10) lost to a winless Oregon squad Saturday, 4-2, but rebounded to defeat the Ducks, 6-0, last Sunday. Last Friday, dropped a game to No. 14 Oregon State, 2-0. At the plate, the Sun Devils are led by Phelan Wright (.449, 62 H, 15 2B, 7 HR, .710 SLG), Cara Brun (.395, 62 H, 11 2B, 8 HR) and Nicole Thompson (.386, 59 H, 2 HR, 12 SB). In the circle, Erica Beach (25-10, 1.08 ERA, 158 SO) leads the team with 40 appearances. Cal won in its last meeting with ASU, 3-2 and lead the all-time series, 42-25.