No. 11/12 California Completes Friday Sweep, Defeats Utah, 10-4
Feb. 19, 2010
LAS VEGAS - The California softball team had to battle back from a deficit for the first time in 2010, but did so in magnificent fashion to defeat Utah, 10-4, on Friday afternoon. The Utes (5-1) scored three runs in the bottom of the first but the Golden Bears (6-1) scored eight runs in the fifth to run away with the game at Eller Media Stadium.
Leading off for the Utes in the bottom of the first, catcher Brooke Olson earned a walk in her six-pitch at bat. Next up, Hannah Clements grounded out on the first pitch she saw to advance Olson to second. Olson would have advanced regardless since the next batter Whitney Holm also got a free base off a walk. The next two batters - Kara Foster and Jasey Jensen - each singled off the first pitch they saw from Valerie Arioto to plate Olson and Holm, respectively. Utah added on one more run when Foster came home on a sacrifice swinging strikeout by Tia Palauni.
The second inning for Utah was quite different with Arioto sending the Utes down in order with a ground out and two swinging strike outs.
Neither team scored in the second or third, leaving a combined three runners stranded, before both squads had one student-athlete cross the plate in the fourth.
In the top end of the fourth frame, freshman Jolene Henderson hit the first pitch thrown her way up the middle for an important single. Henderson advanced to second on a wild pitch and then to third thanks to a sac fly by fellow freshman and Elk Grove, Calif., native Lindsey Ziegenhirt. With Henderson poised on the hot corner, Jace Williams singled to left for a RBI and Cal's first run of the game, bringing Cal within two at 3-1.
Utah began its half of the fourth with a solo shot from Palauni right off the bat. However, in the rest of the inning, Cal would refuse any further offensive attempts, and the two teams went into the fifth with Utah leading, 4-1.
After just two hits through four innings of play, the Bears were poised to come alive in their half of the fifth. Vernae Sevilla started things off with a lead-off single to right off the second pitch of what would prove to be a long inning for the Utah defense. With Shannon Houston pinch running for Sevilla, Frani Echavarria singled to short, moving Houston to second. Jamia Reid then fouled out to first base to give the Utes one out.
Next up, Shannon Thomas plated Houston and advanced Echavarria to third with a bunt single. Arioto loaded the bases with a key five-pitch walk, and then Henderson reached on an error by the Utah shortstop to bring Echavarria home. The game-changer came in the next at bat with Ziegenhirt tripling to right, bringing all three Bears on base - Henderson, Arioto and Thomas - home.
With the Bears holding a lead - at 6-4 - for the first time in the game, Jace Williams reached on a fielder's choice to short. Williams stole second, to put runners at second and third (Ziegenhirt) with Elia Reid at bat. With a hit up the middle, Reid reached on a fielder's choice for the pitcher got Ziegenhirt out at home while Williams advanced to third.
With two away, the Cal line-up began again with Sevilla in the batter's box. Elia Reid stole second and with a wild pitch from hurler Joni Clark, Reid advanced to third and Williams scored. Sevilla earned a trip to first after Clark hit her with a bitch, bringing up Echavarria, who tripled to left to plate Reid and Sevilla, giving the Bears the final two runs of their eight-run fifth inning.
Further sealing the victory, Cal faced the minimum in the bottom of the fifth and added an insurance run in the top half of the sixth inning. Now facing a different pitched - Brittany Parker, who replaced Cook after Echavarria's triple - Shannon Thomas reached on an error by Parker and then advanced to second to open the sixth. Arioto then singled to right to drive in Thomas and give the Bears their final run of the game.
The seventh inning was another piece of pitching genius by Arioto, who threw the complete game, with three straight strikeouts to end the game.
Next up, Cal faces Northwestern and Oklahoma on Saturday in the team's second day of play at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic.