Weekly Q&A With Diane Ninemire
March 26, 2010
BERKELEY - The No. 14 California softball team cruised to an 8-0 victory over Pacific in a mid-week nonconference meeting at Berkeley's Levine-Fricke Field. The Golden Bears, who are now 25-6 overall, travel to Davis this weekend for four games at the Aggie Stampede. CalBears.com caught up with head coach Diane Ninemire following the game to chat about Wednesday's victory, the games this weekend, the Bear arsenal of pitching and more.
CalBears.com: What does defeating Pacific, 8-0, in five innings on Wednesday do for the team heading into this weekend's tournament?
Diane Ninemire: I thought we got off to a really good start today. I was a littler concerned because sometimes we don't play so well in the mid-week games. The team is on a roll right now. The pitching has been lights out for ust he past couple of weeks. Valerie Arioto had another great outing this week with 10 stirkeouts in five innings. She's throwing batters completely off blance. Pacific was never a threat during the game. Our defense was good. We came up with some timely hits on Wednesday, especially Lindsey Ziegenhirt, who had another big-time home run that pretty much put the game out of reach for UOP.
Hopefully this weekend, going in against Sac State, UC Riverside, Saint Mary's and UC Davis, we'll be able to have some performances like we had Wednesday. Hopefully we can get a lot of hitting in and get some great pitching out there. We hope to be really ready for our next weekend of play - which is against Stanford in the first weekend of Pac-10 play.
CalBears.com: In Hawaii, Valerie Arioto had 12 strikeouts in one game and 17 in another game. She struck out 10 on Wednesday versus Pacific. Do you think Arioto is reaching a peak or could she go even higher?
DN: I think the sky is the limit for Valerie. It was evident coming back in the fall that her drop ball is just falling off the table. That is a difficult pitch for any hitter, I don't care how experienced they are. She's really keeping them off base. The days when she has her change-up going really well, when you combine that with her drop ball, it just becomes a devastating day for most hitters. We're hoping that she can keep this up. She hasn't shown any signs of not being able to do that, which is a very good sign for Valerie.
This has been her best start in the three years that she's been at Cal. Her strike-out ratio is something that we have not had of this magnitude consistency from any pitcher over the past few years. To have that in our arsenal of weapons to put against opponents is dynamite. Jolene Henderson has been doing a great job. We're also hoping that we'll have Marissa Drewrey bad this weekend as well. If we can get all three healthy, able to contribute and keep batters off balance then it gives our offense a chance to win some games.
CalBears.com: Speaking of Jolene Henderson, she has the second lowest ERA in all of the Pac-10 at 0.79 and is only a freshman. How do you think she's adjusting to life and pitching in the collegiate ranks?
DN: I think she's adjusting very well. She has learned how to be a pitcher, instead of just a thrower. She's getting a better understanding of how to set up batters and how to change her speeds to keep those batters off balance. I think she's got excellent role model in Valerie. Right now, they are a great one-two punch because they throw so differently. They're both doing a great job in their own way. Like I said earlier, I'm looking forward to getting Marissa back because with all three of them working, it really puts us in a great place.
CalBears.com: Versus Pacific, you had Vernae Sevilla at third, moving the traditional starter in the hot corner in Jace Williams to the outfield. Will this weekend in Davis give you a chance to mix up the line-up and defense?
DN: I think what you saw Wednesday will be basically what we'll start with. With Jamia Reid out right now with an injury. Jace, Vernae and Elia Reid have stepped in nicely. I think this weekend, I think it's about trying to get as much time for everyone as possible with Pac-10 starting next weekend.
CalBears.com: On offense, the team is really distributing the hits all over the board. What does that mean for the team's outlook heading into the rigorous conference season?
DN: It means that it's hard for the opponent to just pitch to one or two players. It's nice to know that anyone at any given time can come up and get the big hits in the big situations. I think it gives our team a lot of confidence that no matter what the situation is or what inning it is, anyone on our team can cause some panic.