May 27, 2002
OKLAHOMA CITY - California had a quiet confidence and Jocelyn Forest,which was enough to beat tradition-laden Arizona in the NCAA championshipsoftball game.
Forest threw a one-hitter, and California scored six runs in the seventhinning off ace Jennie Finch to beat the Wildcats 6-0 Monday.
'We came out here wanting to play. Just being here wasn't good enough forus,' said Forest, the tournament's outstanding player.
'We proved a point. People underestimate us all the time and we'redefinitely the underdogs. Nobody ever believes in us,' she said. 'The onlypeople that have ever believed in us is ourselves, and we came out here and didthe job.'
The Golden Bears (56-19), making their fourth straight trip to the Women'sCollege World Series, had never won more than two games in any of their sixappearances. Arizona (55-12) has six NCAA championships and has been to thetitle game 10 times.
But California had won two of three from the Wildcats during the regularseason, and that confidence carried over.
'We knew that anything could go our way,' third baseman Candace Harpersaid.
It finally did in the seventh inning, after the Golden Bears threatened inthe fifth and sixth against Finch.
Finch (34-6), the player of the year in 2001 when she went 32-0 and Arizonawon the title, retired the first two batters in the seventh before KaleoEldredge walked. Kristen Morley followed with a single, then Harper singled upthe middle to make it 1-0.
Finch was replaced by Jenny Gladding, who gave up a double to ChelseaSpencer that finished the scoring.
'Jennie Finch was the reason why we got here and we rode her, and I thinkshe just ran out of a little bit of gas,' coach Mike Candrea said. 'It wasCal's day.'
Finch threw 196 pitches in a victory over Florida State on Sunday and wasn'ther usual dominant self Monday. She walked eight and struck out just two.
'I felt fine,' she said. 'At the end, I think I tried to get things goingand started to speed up a little bit, but I felt fine out there.'
Forest (29-12) struck out eight and walked three. She was 4-0 in thetournament, allowing nine hits and two runs in 28 innings, with 33 strikeouts.
'It's just been amazing. It's the best group of girls I've ever playedwith,' Forest said.
Diane Ninemire, completing her 15th year as Cal's coach, said thechampionship was as much a result of desire as it was talent.
'This team plays with heart,' she said. 'They're just so committed toeach other and making it happen.
'I don't know that we're necessarily the best team player for player, butwe are the best team because we play as a team.'
By OWEN CANFIELD
AP Sports Writer
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