Cal Ascends to No. 9 in the Nation, Travels to UNC Tournament
Feb. 11, 2009
BERKELEY - After a 4-0 start to the season, the California Golden Bear softball team climbed to No. 9 in the nation by both the NFCA and ESPN.com top 25 polls released this week. Cal looks to keep its early season momentum going when it travels to Chapel Hill, N.C. for the Carolina Classic, Feb. 13-15.
The Bears will square off against Wichita State at 8:00 a.m. PT on Friday, then play two games against North Carolina (noon PT) and George Washington (2:30 p.m. PT) on Saturday, before concluding the tournament against Penn State at 7:00 a.m. PT on Sunday. All games can be followed via GameTracker on CalBears.com.
Cal is 4-0 for the first time since the 2006 season ... the last time Cal was ranked higher than No. 9 was when it was ranked 5th in late 2006 ... the Bears recorded 20 stolen bases at the Cathedral City Kickoff last weekend; the Bears had four stolen bases in the first four games last season (school record for stolen bases is 101 in 1979) ... Cal has outscored its opponents 21-1 in the first three innings this season and 45-11 overall ... the 45 runs is tops in the Pac-10, while the 20 stolen bases also ranks No. 1 (No. 2 is Oregon with 12) ... Vernae Sevilla had two home runs at the Cathedral City Kickoff after hitting just one all last season ... playing competitive softball for the first time since high school in Fresno, Nikki Schrey (who played two years of soccer for Cal) scored three runs at the CCK.
Head coach Diane Ninemire stated before the start of the season that this year's 2009 team is the fastest she's ever had and it may be one of the fastest in the nation. Early season numbers are backing up that assertion thus far. Cal has 20 stolen bases in the books (on 21 attempts), including a team-high six by freshman Elia Reid. Her twin sister Jamia is 4-for-4, while newcomer Shannon Thomas is a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen bases. With six stolen bases to her credit, Elia Reid is a serious threat to break the school single-season record of 28 set by Erika Racklin last season.
Diane Ninemire couldn't have asked for a better performance from her freshman Jamia Reid at the Cathedral City Kickoff last weekend. Playing in her first collegiate game, the EA Sports High School All-American went 2-for-5, including a two-run home run in the sixth inning against nationally-ranked Houston. The offensive output didn't stop there as Reid went 2-for-4 with two runs, including her second home run - a three-run job in the second inning against Liberty. Reid continued her torrid pace at the plate with two hits, two runs and two-run home run in the first inning against Illinois. Reid leads the Pac-10 in RBI (9) and is tied for the lead in home runs with three.
Jamia Reid wasn't the only freshman making headlines for the Bears in their 4-0 start to the season. Jamia's twin sister Elia hit .583 (second in the Pac-10) on 7-of-12 from the plate with six RBI (sixth in the Pac-10) and six stolen bases (second in the Pac-10) ... Elia was a perfect 3-for-3 with three RBI in her collegiate debut against nationally ranked Houston ... starting center fielder Frani Echavarria hit .333 for the tournament and scored five runs, while knocking in a pair of runs as well.
No Sophomore Slump for Val
It was business as usual for Valerie Arioto at the Cathedral City Kickoff last weekend. Arioto, who as a freshman led the Bears in runs, hits, doubles and triples, produced a .417 batting average with five runs, a triple and two RBI. Arioto also earned the win in her start against Liberty and struck out a season-high seven batters. Arioto's best performance came against Illinois on Feb. 7 when she went 2-for-4 with two runs and a triple.
Bears on TV
Cal will be on television this season when it hosts Arizona on May 1 in Strawberry Canyon. Fox Sports will broadcast the game on a tape delay and re-air it on a later date still to be determined. The last time there was a TV game at Levine-Fricke Field was in 2005 when Cal played UCLA.
Val on Preseason POY Watch List
Cal sophomore Valerie Arioto was named to the Amateur Softball Association of America's (ASA) initial 'Watch List' for the 8th Annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. This award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. The 2009 Pre-Season Watch List is comprised of 50 players representing 32 schools and 13 different NCAA Division I Conferences. The ASA will announce the 25 finalists on April 1. A player does not have to appear on the initial watch list to be considered as a top 25 finalist. However, once the top 25 finalists are named the winner of the award will come from that list
While the SEC may have Alabama and Florida ranked 1-2 in this week's ESPN.com top 25 poll, the Pac-10 boasts six teams in the top 10. Cal already played and defeated nationally ranked Houston to start the season, and will face at least three more teams ranked in the top 25 before opening conference play.