No. 2 California Faces No. 7 Stanford in Three-Game Series

April 21, 2005

BERKELEY -

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This Week:April 22, at No. 7 StanfordStanford, CA (Smith Family Stadium), 7:00 p.m.April 23, vs. StanfordBerkeley, CA (Levine-Fricke Field), 1:00 p.m.April 24, vs. StanfordBerkeley, CA (Levine-Fricke Field), 1:00 p.m.

WHAT'S ON TAP: The No. 2 California softball team returns to the Bay Area where the Bears have a chance to open up some breathing room in the Pac-10 Conference standings. Cal (39-6) contests a three-game series with No. 7 Stanford this week, the lone instance the rivals will face each other in the regular season. The set opens April 22 at 7 p.m. at the Cardinal's Jill and Boyd Smith Family Stadium and resumes April 23-24 at the Bears' Levine-Fricke Field. Both games begin at 1 p.m. Cal is 6-3 in conference play, a half-game behind second-place Stanford (6-2) and one-and-a-half behind league-leader No. 11 Oregon State (8-2), which faces No. 25 Oregon this week. Friday's game is scheduled to be broadcast tape delayed on Comcast (see below) and on the Internet at GoStanford.com (registration required).

NO. 2 CALIFORNIA VS. NO. 7 STANFORD BROADCAST SCHEDULE*:Channel                        LocationComcast 28 (Media Center 28)   Menlo Park, Stanford,                               Palo Alto, AthertonComcast 26 (Pen-TV 26)         Eastern San Mateo CountyComcast 26 (CTSCC 26)          Northern Santa Cruz CountyCharter 72 (CTSCC 72)          Southern Santa Cruz County*Game tape delayed to April 24, 8 p.m.

LONG STRANGE TRIP: What appeared to be a normal road trip for games at No. 25 Oregon (April 15) and No. 10 Oregon State (April 16-17) turned out to be anything but for the Bears. A day after Cal scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning for a 6-5, come-from-behind win against the Ducks, OSU posted a five-run fifth inning to down Cal, 6-5. The field at the OSU Softball Complex wasn't tarped following Saturday's loss, and, subsequently, Sunday's tilt was cancelled due to poor field conditions. The Beavers had offered to play a doubleheader in place of a previously scheduled May 6 date in Berkeley. The Pac-10 intervened, however, and mandated the game be played Monday, weather permitting. Cal escaped with a 2-1 victory Monday, courtesy of a two-run homer from third baseman Vicky Galindo.

THE KEY IN THE CIRLCE: The pitching tandem of senior Kelly Anderson and junior Kristina Thorson has been a huge key to the Bears' success in 2005, and while the duo are perhaps the most productive teammates in Cal history, they are also among the top staffs in the nation this season. Anderson and Thorson's combined win total of 38 is second to only Michigan's Jennie Ritter (39) and Lorilyn Wilson's (18) 39. Also, only two pitching staffs - those of No. 1 Michigan and No. 3 Texas - have two or more pitchers with ERAs that surpass those of Anderson's (0.99) and Thorson's (1.21). Their combined ERA of 1.09 in ninth-best among Division I staffs.

TRANSFER PRODUCTIVITY: She's appeared at third base, in right field, as the designated player and, most recently, as Cal's left fielder, but despite all of the position changes, junior Emily Friedman has emerged as Cal's top newcomer and one of the Bears' timeliest and most productive hitters. Though Friedman, a junior transfer from Wisconsin, is hitting just .286 for the season, she has seven RBIs in eight opportunities with a runner on third and less than two outs. Her .320 average with runners in scoring position is third among Cal regulars to only Galindo (.421) and center fielder Kaleo Eldredge (.383). She is also third to Eldredge and Galindo in advancing runners, having successfully moved players along the basepaths on 23 of 42 occasions (.548). Her top moment as a Bear came April 9, when her two-out, bottom-of-the-seventh single to left field scored shortstop Chelsea Spencer for a 2-1 victory against No. 12 UCLA.

JAMES OUT: The Bears were dealt a tough blow in their April 8 defeat of No. 20 Washington when leading hitter Lindsay James broke her left hand after being struck with a first-inning pitch from Husky starter Ashley Boek. James, batting .478 at the time of the injury, is expected to be out up to six weeks, placing her return somewhere around the conclusion of the regular season. The left fielder should have enough at-bats to qualify for any hitting honors and is poised to become not only the Bears' top single-season hitter, but the program's first .400-plus batter in nine seasons.

BEARS GET IT DONE WHEN IT COUNTS: Cal is 11-5 against teams ranked in the Top 25 of either national poll (ESPN.com/USA Softball, USA Today/NFCA) and has defeated some of the nation's top clubs in 2005. Aside from recent wins against No. 10 Oregon State and No. 25 Oregon, the Bears have defeated No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Texas, No. 5 Tennessee, No. 7 Alabama twice in two days, No. 12 UCLA, No. 18 Arizona State, No. 20 Washington and No. 24 Iowa (all rankings representative of date game was played).

A SILVER LINING: If there's such a thing as a quality loss, Cal can take solace in the fact that its five defeats this season have all come to teams that have been ranked, at one point, in the Top 25 of either national poll. Losses to No. 2 Arizona (April 2) and No. 23 Northwestern (March 18) came on two-out, walk-off home runs. Defeats to No. 16 Texas A&M (Feb. 16), Arizona State (March 13) and No. 12 UCLA were the only three games this season where Cal had failed to lead at some point in the contest. In the Bears' April 16 loss at No. 10 Oregon State, Cal committed three errors that led to a five-run Beavers fifth inning and a 6-5 loss.

TRIO OF BEARS VIE FOR TOP HONOR: On April 6, Galindo, Anderson and James were named to a list of 25 finalists for USA Softball's 2005 Collegiate Player of the Year award. Galindo, a first team All-American, All-Pacific Region and All-Pac-10 selection in 2004, is hitting .381 this season with 10 doubles and 16 steals. Galindo has been a catalyst at the top of the lineup for Cal with a .440 on-base percentage. Anderson is a team-leading 21-2 with a 0.99 ERA while James was hitting a team-leading .478 at the time of an injury that is expected to keep her out through the remainder of regular-season play. Cal, along with No. 3 Arizona and No. 5 Oklahoma, are the only programs to have three players named as finalists.

STEALING SUCCESS: The 2005 season is shaping up to be a record-breaking year for Cal on the base paths. With 84 team thefts this season, the Bears have a chance to break the program record of 104 stolen bases, set in 1979. Galindo leads Cal with 16 stolen bases while freshman speedster Erika Racklin has nabbed 15.

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