Pac-10 Softball Round-Up: March 24, 2010

March 24, 2010

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BERKELEY - The No. 14 California softball team mercied Pacific, 8-0, on Wednesday afternoon at Berkeley's serene Levine-Fricke Field in Strawberry Canyon. Behind a 10-strike out performance from Valerie Arioto, the Golden Bears (25-6 overall) limited the Tigers (10-14) to just one hit. Cal's freshman catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt led all players with three RBI off two walks and a homer.

Cal's first baserunner came from the third spot in the Bear line-up with junior pitcher Valerie Arioto earning a walk, a category in which she leads the Bears with 32 free tips to first. Arioto promptly stole second, her 10th steal of the season. In the final pitch of Lindsey Ziegenhirt's at bat, Pacific pitcher Gabby McDaniel issued a wild pitch, which put Ziegenhirt at first with a walk and moved Arioto to third.

The very next pitch from McDaniel - which was to Jace Williams - sailed over UOP catcher Karie Wilson's head for another wild pitch, allowing Arioto to score and Ziegenhirt to move to second. Williams earned a four-pitch walk, putting runners at first and second with two outs. Ziegenhirt and Williams would be left stranded as McDaniel got third baseman Vernae Sevilla out on a three-pitch swinging strikeout.

In the top of the second, Arioto struck out the side. Pacific's final batter of the inning - Megan Allen - could not help but swing at two of Arioto's stunning off-speed pitches. With Cal still holding the 1-0 advantage, the Tigers returned that favor in the Bears' end of the second with McDaniel getting two strike outs and one ground out to send Cal down in order.

It was an identical scenario in the top of the third with strike outs sandwiching a 1-3 ground out to send the Tigers down 1-2-3. Following her two Ks in the third, Arioto had struck five of the last six batters. 

In the first at bat in the bottom of the third, Frani Echavarria broke the game's 17-batter hit stalemate with a powerful single into left field. After stealing second (her fourth of the year), Echavarria tagged up and moved to third when Shannon Houston had a pop up to foul territory in right field.

Next up for the Bears was Arioto, who hit the fifth pitch in a 1-2 count into left center for an RBI single. The Cal batting practice continued with Lindsey Ziegenhirt teeing off on McDaniel's first pitch to her for a two-run roundtripper over the wall in center field, distancing the Bears, 4-0. Following the homer, the Tigers were able to shut down the next two Cal batters - Williams and Sevilla with a ground out and line drive, respectively.

Arioto, the Bears and Tigers began the fourth inning with a 1-3 ground out. Arioto then sent the final two Tigers - Megan Hom and Nikki Armagost - down with strike outs to bring her K total to eight, seven of which were looking. After the top of the fourth, Arioto had retired the past 11 batters with a strike out or ground out.

Taylor Kelly opened the bottom of the fourth with her 17th walk of the year and freshman first baseman Jolene Henderson moved herself to first and Kelly to second when a McDaniel's pitch struck Henderson. Echavarria, who was next in the order, had a one-out single up the middle to juice the bases and bring up Shannon Houston.

With Houston in the box, catcher Karie Wilson could not get a handle on a McDaniel pitch, which allowed Kelly to score and all the runners to move over one. Arioto earned a walked to load the bases with two away, bringing up Ziegenhirt. The Elk Grove, Calif., native watched four pitches sail by for a four-pitch trip to first, which scored Henderson and moved all the runners around.

With Jace Williams due up to hit, the Tigers made a pitching change, bringing in Nikki Armagost from first to pitch. It was of no relief for Pacific as Armagost walked Williams to plate Echavarria and to draw up the ninth batter of the half inning in Vernae Sevilla.

With Cal leading, 7-0, Sevilla notched her 14th hit of the season with this one going past shortstop into left center for an RBI single, scoring Arioto. Arioto was the last Bear to cross the dish in the bottom of the fourth, but the damage was complete and irreparable for the Tigers with Cal scoring four times in the fourth to bring its lead to 8-0.

In the top of the fifth, the Bears needed three outs without any UOP runs to end the game on account of the mercy rule, and three outs and no Pacific runners is what they earned. Arioto got the first batter - Kellee Wilson - to ground out, with Sevilla fielding the ball cleanly and throwing it cross-diamond to Amy Bishop, who had replaced Henderson, at first.

Next up for the Tigers, Karie Wilson, who had a high pop up that was of no trouble for second baseman Diane Leider, who stepped in for Shannon Houston. UOP got a baserunner in Allen, who struck out but reached on an error by Sati Houston behind the dish. The final out of the game came, fittingly enough, with an Arioto looking strike out.

Pacific's sole hit came in the top of the first while the Bears registered five hits off the Tiger pitching. McDaniel took the loss, falling to 3-6 overall, while Arioto improved to 12-4 thanks to her one-hitter. Echavarria led the Bears with two hits while Arioto thrice crossed the plate and Ziegenhirt had three RBI.

Cal's work is not done yet this week for the Bears play in their last nonconference tournament in Davis from Friday, March 26 through Sunday, March 28. At the Aggie Stampede, Cal plays Sacramento State on March 26 at 12:15 p.m., then faces off against Riverside (1:15 p.m.) and Saint Mary's (3:30 p.m.) on Saturday before closing with host Davis on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

For more information and full schedule of the Aggie Stampede, please click here.

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