Cal Tangles with North Dakota State; Competes at the NIST

March 5, 2008

Berkeley -

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QuicklyThe California softball team, winners of six of its last seven games, tangles with North Dakota State at home on Thursday (2 p.m.) before competing at the 22nd Annual National Invitational Softball Tournament (NIST), Friday, Mar. 7 - Sunday, March 9 at the Alden E. Oliver Sports Park in Hayward, Calif. The Golden Bears square off against Boston College, Tennessee State, San Jose State, Nevada and Northern Iowa in the three-day tournament.

900 for Ninemire21st year head coach Diane Ninemire reached another milestone in her storied California tenure with career win No. 900, after the Golden Bears defeated Long Beach State, 15-7 at the Eller Media Stadium Classic (hosted by UNLV) on Feb. 29. 'I'm very proud to have coached 21 years at Cal,' said Ninemire. 'The 900th win is very special and the team did it in style, putting up 15 runs against a quality opponent in Long Beach State. I'm extremely proud of my career at Cal. Every win has been sweet, but I'll remember this for a long time.' Ninemire has accumulated the second-most wins in Pac-10 history (903) and is the 11th softball coach in NCAA history to have 900 or more wins. The next winningest active coach in the Pac-10 is Stanford's John Rittman, who had 465 entering the 2008 season. Mississippi State's Jay Miller (slated at No. 12 all-time in NCAA wins) had 899 wins in 26 years through games played Feb. 29. Ninemire's 903 wins in 21 years of service at Cal ranks her first among active coaches in their 21st year, well ahead of Tennessee's Ralph Weekly (15th all-time) and Texas Tech's Teresa Wilson (16th all-time).

Recapping the Eller Media Stadium ClassicCal finished the Eller Media Stadium Classic, hosted by UNLV, with a 4-1 record ... freshman Valerie Arioto paced the club with a .563 batting average, with two doubles and a triple, while scoring eight runs and driving in two ... the biggest spark came from sophomore Shannon Houston who ignited for a .533 batting average with seven runs, a triple and four RBI and two stolen bases ... six Bears hit .315 or better for the tournament ... Cal got its biggest win of the season, defeating No. 15-ranked Hawaii, 9-2 on Mar. 1 ... Cal's pitching was solid as well, yielding 10 earned runs, while posting 26 strikeouts.

Hot batsCal has 197 hits (third in the Pac-10) through 22 games this season, 46 more than last season when the Bears had 151 hits thru 22 games ... Cal entered the record books in 2007 with 470 hits - tenth-best all-time ... the Bears also have eight players (with a minimum of 10 plate appearances) hitting .300 or better ... freshman Sanoe Kekahuna leads the team in batting average (.412), hits (28), doubles (7), home runs (6), RBI (30) and total bases (53) ... Cal's RBI production is up from last season as well -- the Bears have accumulated 124 RBI, 20 more than last year through 22 games ... Cal set a program record 278 RBI last season ... the timely hitting has led to a bundle of runs as well -- Cal has crossed home plate 139 times, third-most in the Pac-10 and 13 ahead of last year's pace of 126 through 22 games ... Cal had a school-record 322 runs scored last season as well.

The Big KahunaTo say that Sanoe Kekahuna is playing well this season would be a severe understatement. The freshman product from Maui is producing at a blistering pace at the dish this season. Kekahuna ranks in the top 10 in several categories among the Pac-10 leaders - third in home runs (6), second in RBI (30), seventh in slugging percentage (.779), third in total bases (53) and third in doubles (7). Kekahuna owns the league's longest hitting streak, which lasted 12 games from Feb. 10-Feb. 23. Kekahuna is already 28 RBI away from tying the school single-season record of 58 set by Haley Woods in 2005. Kekahuna could also potentially break into the top 5 single season hits record. Gillian Boxx had 90 hits in 1995.

Rarely caught stealingSenior Erika Racklin has 11 stolen bases in 13 attempts this season and currently has 55 for her career (64 attempts). Racklin is tied for fourth all-time in program history with 55 thefts.

Multiple offendersTen Golden Bears have had multi-hit games this season, including Erika Racklin, who has nine already ... In her first eight games, six were multi-hit performances ... she had a season-high three hits against Western Kentucky on Mar. 2 ... freshman Valerie Arioto has eight multi-hit games this season - including two three-hit performances against Hawaii (Mar. 1) and Western Kentucky (Mar. 2) ... freshman Sanoe Kekahuna leads the team with nine multiple RBI games this year ... In fact three Bears have had five or more RBI in a single game this season (Kekahuna, Bernice Masaniai and Julie Meyer).

Coming out swingingCal has outscored its opponents 51-11 in the first two innings of games played this season (25-7 in the first inning and 26-4 in the second inning) ... that scoring outburst has helped Cal to a 12-1 record when leading after two innings this season.

Standing tall in the circleMarissa Drewrey, the 6-3 product from Oakdale, CA, has a team-high nine wins in the circle (third in the Pac-10) this season with a 1.83 ERA (ninth in the Pac-10) and 112 strikeouts (third in the Pac-10). She won her 20th career game, allowing one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts against No. 15-ranked Hawaii (Mar. 1) ... she tossed a one-hitter against Santa Clara (Feb. 23), striking out nine of the 15 batters she faced ... Drewrey earned the win against Nebraska at the Kajikawa Classic on Feb. 15 when she allowed one run on one hit and six Ks in seven innings of work in Cal's 6-1 victory. She was impressive in Cal's opening weekend of play at the Cathedral City Classic when she recorded a career-best 14 strikeouts vs. Winthrop and had 13 strikeouts the following game vs. New Mexico State. She finished the tournament with 40 strikeouts in 28.2 innings pitched (with a 0.73 ERA) ... last season, Drewrey didn't record her 40th strikeout until Mar. 28 at Pacific (or 73.3 innings pitched).

Pitching propsCal's pitching this season has been steady this season with a 2.13 ERA through 22 games as compared to its 3.56 ERA through 22 games last season ... strikeouts are way up as well, as the pitching staff has totaled 158 Ks this season - 74 more than last year's mark of 84 through 22 games ... sophomore Marissa Drewrey has accounted for 112 of Cal's strikeouts this year.

Senior leadershipBefore the start of the season, head coach Diane Ninemire was hoping to get plenty leadership from the seniors to guide the Bears this season. So far so good. Katie Vickers is hitting .347 this season with eight RBI ... Erika Racklin has a .360 batting average with 21 runs (eighth in the Pac-10) and 11 stolen bases (third in the Pac-10) ... Julie Meyer is hitting .259 and hit a grand slam against Long Beach State on Feb. 29.

How are the newcomers doing?Referenced by Graham Hays of ESPN.com on his 'new faces poised to make instant impacts,' Valerie Arioto is quickly developing her craft at the plate and in the circle. She produced a team-best .563 average with two doubles, a triple and eight runs at the Eller Media Stadium Classic (Feb. 29-Mar. 2) ... she hit .333 at the dish at the Mustang Classic, with six runs and five RBI. She picked up her third of the year after allowing an earned run on three hits in five innings of work with five strikeouts against UAB on Feb. 22. She went 1-0 in the circle and tossed her first collegiate complete game, one-hit shutout against Western Michigan on Feb. 16 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. She also posted nine strikeouts against WMU. She tallied a .467 batting average to go along with two runs, a double, a triple and four RBI at the Cathedral City Classic (Feb. 8-10). Her impact at the plate was key in Cal's 5-1 win over Winthrop (2/9), when she went 2-for-3 with four RBI, including a bases-clearing triple in the second inning which gave Cal a 3-0 lead. Arioto is hitting .394 this season and has a 1.87 ERA with 37 strikeouts in the circle.

Carrie Arth has provided a nice spark for the Bears lately, and earned three straight starts Feb. 23-29 ... she went 1-for-3 and hit her first career home run against Santa Clara on Feb. 23 and scored a run and had a double against Sacramento State on Feb. 24.

Savannah Hensley has appeared primarily as a pinch runner, but has produced when on the base pads ... she has five runs and two RBI in nine at bats this season

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