Golden Bears Face Oklahoma in Fourth Consecutive College World Series Appearance

May 22, 2002

Who: No. 4 California (52-19) vs. No. 5 Oklahoma (49-14)
When: Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
Where: Don E. Porter Hall of Fame Stadium, Oklahoma City
Television: ESPN

Bears Earn Fourth Consecutive Trip to Women's College World Series: With its 1-0 victory over Cal State Fullerton last Sunday afternoon, Cal earned its fourth consecutive and seventh overall berth to the Women's College World Series. After defeating Fresno State (2-1), Stanford (1-0), Cal State Fullerton twice (4-2 and 1-0), the fourth-seeded Golden Bears now prepare to face No. 5 seed Oklahoma (49-14) Thursday at 12:30 p.m. CT.The Sooners defeated Utah (6-0), Texas (4-1) and Texas A&M twice (7-0 and 8-1) to earn their way back to their home state for a shot at a second national championship.Other teams that advanced to the WCWS are No. 1 seed UCLA, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Arizona State, No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Nebraska and No. 8 Florida State. The Pac-10 Conference, again, dominates the field with four teams this season. Two teams, Oklahoma and Nebraska, represent the Big-12, while Michigan and Florida State belong to the Big-10 and Atlantic Coast Conference, respectively.

WCWS First-Round Games
No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 8 Florida State
No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 7 Nebraska
No. 3 Arizona State vs. No. 6 Michigan
No. 4 California vs. No. 5 Oklahoma

Bears Take On Oklahoma in WCWS Opening Round: For the second time in three years, Can and Oklahoma will meet in the first round of the Women's College World Series. Back in 2000, the Bears and Sooners played before a then-WCWS record crowd of 6,856 fans.Cal grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning when Amber Phillips led off with a single and advanced to third on a pair of sacrifice bunts. Candace Harper followed with a single to left for the RBI.OU, though, rallied in the bottom of the seventh. A walk and two hit batters loaded the bases with one out. Leah Gulla singled to tie the game. And with two out, Christy Ring singled to center for the game-winner, giving the Sooners as 2-1 victory.Jocelyn Forest tossed 6.2 innings of six-hit ball, striking out five, for the Bears, while Jennifer Stewart picked up with win with two innings of relief work.Cal still owns a 7-3 series lead over OU, but the teams haven't met since the WCWS game two years ago.

Golden Bears Earn 17th Straight NCAA Bid: With its invitation to the postseason this year, Cal is making its 17th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament - the longest on-going streak in the Pac-10. The Bears have an all-time record of 42-38 in NCAA play, including a 7-12 mark in Women's College World Series competition. Last season, Cal tied for fifth in the WCWS, losing the opener to Arizona, defeating Michigan, 5-2, but falling in a 1-0 decision to Stanford despite a combined one-hitter by Nicole DiSalvio and Jocelyn Forest. Overall, Cal tied for third in the WCWS in both 1986 and 1999, tied for fifth in 1992, 1996 and 2001 and tied for seventh in 2000.

Best Pac-10 Mark Since 1996: The Bears, who went 12-9 in league action, finished above .500 in the cut-throat Pac-10 Conference for the first since 1996 when Cal went 14-12 en route to a fifth-place tie at the College World Series. The last time the Bears finished with a better winning percentage (.571) was in 1991 when Cal was 14-6 (.700). Overall, Pac-10 finishes haven't meant much to the Bears, as in 2001 when Cal tied for seventh in the conference, but concluded the WCWS tied for fifth. In 1999, when the Bears reached the semifinals of the WCWS, they placed fifth in the Pac-10 with a 13-14 mark.

Cal Defense is Best in School History: One of the key reasons for Cal's success this season is the fact that the Bears don't give opponents extra opportunities to score through miscues on defense. Throughout 2002, the defense has been one of the stingiest, ever, at Cal. The Bears' fielding percentage of .976 is .003 points higher then the season record set by the 2001 squad. In 71 regular season games, Cal has committed just 49 errors. Individually, Courtney Scott has been a dominating presence behind the plate as she has a .998 fielding percentage. She also has gunned down 22 of 43 would-be base stealers. At second base, Jessica Pamanian carries a .982 fielding percentage.

Forest in Company of Cal Great and 1996 Olympian Michele Granger: Senior pitcher Jocelyn Forest, a 2001 second team All-American, joins four-time first team All-American and 1996 Olympic gold medallist Michele Granger atop Cal's record books. Forest's 20th win of the year, which came against Washington April 28, makes her the only pitcher besides Granger in Cal history to win 20 or more games all four seasons. Forest is also second to Granger in many other career pitching categories at Cal, including wins, strikeouts, games and innings pitched.

RankPitcherWinsStrikeoutsGamesIP
1. Michele Granger11916401831202.2
2.Jocelyn Forest991170167964.2

Nelson Breaks NCAA Walk Mark ... Again: Breaking the NCAA walk record has almost become second nature to Cal first baseman Veronica Nelson. In each of her three seasons with the Bears, she has topped the single-season mark, first with 87 as a freshman in 2000, then with 93 last year and now with 99 entering the WCWS. Her 94th walk of the year came against Stanford in the NCAA Regional. As a result, Nelson also owns the NCAA career record with 279. She broke the mark March 2 vs. Cal State Fullerton when she collected her 212th base on balls, passing Oregon State's Tarrah Beyster, who had 211 from 1997-2000. When Nelson does have an opportunity to swing the bat, she has made opponents pay. The Oakland native leads the team in homers with nine and batting with a .336 average. Nelson is also Cal's all-time homerun leader with 42, including nine this year and a school-record 19 last season, including a two-run shot vs. Arizona in the World Series.

Diane Ninemire Reaches 600: Diane Ninemire, in her 15th year at Cal, reached the 600-win plateau Feb. 8 with a 6-2 win over Kansas. She started the 2002 season with 597 victories, but now stands at 649-336, well on her way to 700 wins.

Freshmen Come Up Big in 2002: Cal has eight new players on its 15-player active roster, and with the exception of Roni Rodrigues, who is a junior transfer, all are freshman adjusting to the college scene. The players up the middle - second base, shortstop, centerfield - played by Jessica Pamanian, Chelsea Spencer and Kaleo Eldredge, respectively, have been key players with the Bears. On defense, the three combine for a .972 fielding percentage. Offensively, they collectively hit .277 with 81 RBI. Eldredge is second on the team in hits with 73. First-year pitchers Kelly Anderson and Cassie Bobrow have been crucial contributors, as well, particularly during the tournament stretch when Cal played up to six games in a weekend. Anderson has tallied 52 strikeouts in 62.1 innings of work, while Bobrow started off her collegiate career throwing 32 consecutive scoreless innings. She also tossed a perfect game against Illinois Feb. 24, winning, 8-0.

Scott Earns Honors On and Off Field: Junior catcher Courtney Scott has gone under a transformation of sorts. After batting .229 her first two years at Cal, Scott has turned up the heat offensively. Not only has she ranked among the team leaders in batting for most of the season (currently third at .317), but she has been the RBI leader for the Bears all year (currently with 45). In April, Scott was invited by Team USA to try out for the U.S. National team this summer in Chula Vista, Calif. In addition, her clutch hitting in two upset wins over then-No. 1 Arizona earned her Pac-10 Player of the Week April 22. She also had an RBI double in the sixth inning to help Cal edge Stanford, 1-0, at the NCAA Regional. On May 8, the College Sports Information Directors of America named Scott to the Verizon Academic All-America district VIII first team, recognizing her 3.20 GPA as an American studies major.

Harper: Cal's Ironwoman at Third Base: Since taking over at third base the first game of her freshman season, Candace Harper has been nearly impossible to get out of the lineup. She enters Thursday's game vs. Oklahoma having played in a school-record 289 games, missing just one contest during her Golden Bear career. One of the most consistent players in school history, Harper has batted above .300 every season, including a career-high .319 in 2002. Twice voted second team All-Pac-10, she is also a defensive stopper at the hot corner with a career fielding rate hovering around .960. In addition to her longevity, Harper has put her name at or near the top of several offensive categories. She is Cal's all-time leader in at-bats (863), doubles (49) and total bases (385). She's second at Cal in career hits with 264, just 10 shy of four-time All-American Gillian Boxx and third in career RBI with 137.

Ranked No. 1Ranked in Top 5
Games Played: 289Hits: 264 (2nd)
At-bats: 863RBI: 137 (3rd)
Doubles: 49Runs: 124 (4th)
Total Bases: 385Homeruns: 21 (4th)

5 Bears Earn Pac-10 Honors: Cal's Jocelyn Forest was selected to the first team All-Pac-10 squad, while four others made the second team - freshman Kaleo Eldredge, juniors Veronica Nelson and Courtney Scott and senior Candace Harper. This marks the first time since 1993 that the Bears have had five or more players on the first or second team.

3 Named to All-Region Squad: Seniors Jocelyn Forest, Candace Harper and freshman Kaleo Eldredge were named to the 2002 NFCA/Louisville Slugger second team Pacific Region team. The Bears have three players on the all-region squad for the third consecutive season.

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