Cal Opens NCAA Play With 1-0 Win Over Illinois State
May 19, 2006
IOWA CITY, Iowa - An RBI single from senior Haley Woods in the first inning was all the California softball team needed, as the Bears opened NCAA Tournament play with a 1-0 victory over Illinois State on Pearl Field in Iowa City, Iowa. Senior Kristina Thorson struck out 14 in her 33rd win of the season, helping Cal, the top seed in the Iowa City Regional, advance to a game against Nebraska, the region's second seed. The Bears will face Nebraska at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday.
Cal improved to 45-12, while the Redbirds fell to 37-15 in front of a crowd of 978.
Junior Alex Sutton led off the first inning with a single to left field. She advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior Lindsay James. Sutton scored when Woods ripped a single up the middle.
Friday was only the fourth meeting between Cal and Illinois State. The teams hadn't met since 2003 when Cal won 11-0 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Georgia. That game featured the second career home run by Woods - who was then a freshman.
Friday's game between Cal and Illinois State started about 45 minutes later than scheduled - at 7:45 p.m. CDT - after the Iowa-Nebraska game went to 10 innings. In the first game of the Iowa City Regional, Nebraska's Jamie Waldecker delivered a clutch two-out single down the left field line in the bottom of the tenth inning that scored Katie Linke to give the Cornhuskers a 1-0 win. With the win, the Huskers improved to 43-10 on the season, while Iowa fell to 39-20 overall.
Cal last faced Nebraska in the 2004 Regional hosted by the Corn Huskers. The Bears advanced out of that region after sweeping the competition with four straight wins - 4-0 over Maine, 2-1 against Mississippi State and two straight 2-0 wins over Nebraska.Those are Cal's only two meetings with the Huskers in postseason play. Nebraska leads the all-time series 14-10.
GAME NOTES*The win pushes Cal's NCAA Regional record to 50-28.
*The win improves Cal coach Diane Ninemire's record in NCAA regional play to 47-23. She has advanced the Bears to the regionals in all 19 seasons of her head coaching career.
*Before the 2005 season, Cal had won seven consecutive regional openers (dating back to 1998).
*Over the past seven seasons, during which Cal has reached the Women's College World Series each time, the Bears are 31-5 in regional competition.
*Kristina Thorson entered the postseason as one of the hottest pitchers in the country. She finished the regular season with 20 consecutive scoreless innings, dating back to the fifth inning against UCLA (5/11). She then blanked Washington May 12-13 in a pair of 1-0 Cal victories.
*Thorson entered Friday's game with 1,009 career strikeouts and 399 on the season. She is now 1,024 in her career and 414 in 2006. She is ranked sixth in the Pac-10 single-season strikeout list and seventh on the conference's career strikeout list.
*With her 33rd win of the season, Kristina Thorson is now tied for Cal's single-season win record with Hall of Famer Michele Granger, who won 33 games in 1991.
*Senior Haley Woods added another RBI to her impressive total. Entering the game, she was already Cal's all-time leader in career RBI (187). She now has 52 this season, which is tied for fourth on the Bears' single-season list.