No. 17/13 Bears Visit Gaels, Host No. 1 Huskies

April 20, 2010

Wednesday, April 21
3 p.m. - No. 17/13 Cal (33-1/4-5) at Saint Mary's (18-17/4-2)
Cottrell Field - Moraga, Calif.
Series Record vs. the Gaels: 45-0, Cal
Last Meeting: W, 6-2 (3/27/10)

Friday, April 23
3 p.m. - No. 17/13 Cal (33-1/4-5) vs. No. 1 Washington (35-4/10-1)
Levine-Fricke Field - Berkeley, Calif.
Series Record vs. the Huskies: 33-29, Cal
Last Meeting: L, 11-3 in five innings (5/9/09)

Saturday, April 17
3 p.m. - No. 17/13 Cal (33-1/4-5) vs. No. 1 Washington (35-4/10-1)
Levine-Fricke Field - Berkeley, Calif.

Sunday, April 18
3 p.m. - No. 17/13 Cal (33-1/4-5) vs. No. 1 Washington (35-4/10-1)
Levine-Fricke Field - Berkeley, Calif.

BERKELEY - The No. 17/13 California softball team, fresh off its series sweep of then-No. 6 Arizona State last weekend, takes a brief break from conference play with a mid-week match-up at East Bay rival Saint Mary's on April 21 at 3 p.m. The Golden Bears (33-11 overall, 4-5 in the Pac-10) hold the perfect 45-0 all-time series record, which was extended thanks to their 6-2 win over the Gaels (18-17, 4-2 in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference) on March 27 at the Aggie Stampede. The weekend will feature a three-game homestand against No. 1 and defending national champion Washington (35-4/10-1 Pac-10). Cal hosts the Huskies on April 23 at 3 p.m., April 24 at 1 p.m. and April 25 at noon. Last season, the Bears won the middle game, avoiding the series sweep, but UW won the last game of the series, 11-3 in five-innings on May 9, 2009.

Quick Hits
-The Bears swept a conference series last weekend versus ASU for the first time since 2006.
-Cal's 1.51 ERA is ranked first in the Pac-10.
-This weekend's games will pit the top two teams in the conference in steals against each other.
-Head coach Diane Ninemire won her 1,000th game on April 7 and is now 1,003-488 in her 23rd season at Cal.
-Lindsey Ziegenhirt hit four homers over three runs last weekend.
-Valerie Arioto knocked in eight RBI against ASU thanks to her four hits, three of which were homers.
-Cal leads the conference in steals with 110 with Jamia Reid pacing the Pac-10 with 41 steals.
-Henderson is sixth in the Pac-10 with her 1.31 ERA while Arioto is third in the conference with 212 strikeouts.
-Elia Reid hit a team-high .667 last weekend and slugged 1.333 with two home runs.
-Valerie Arioto is first in the conference and nation with 55 walks, averaging 1.25 walks per game.

Last Time Out on the Diamond
Cal earned its first conference series sweep since the 2006 season last weekend with three upset victories over then-No. 6 Arizona State. The Bears ended their three-game losing skid on April 16 with a 3-1 win thanks to home runs from freshman catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt and sophomore outfielder Elia Reid. The winning ways continued with four home runs from three Bears - Lindsey Ziegenhirt (2), Valerie Arioto and Elia Reid - allowing Cal to roll over the Sun Devils, 8-0, in six innings on Saturday evening. The home run parade happened all over again in the April 18 series finale. Arioto had two while Ziegenhirt, Taylor Kelly and Vernae Sevilla each hit one homer to push the Bears far beyond the reach of the Sun Devils, 11-3.

Excellent Elia
Sophomore Elia Reid has been coming through in the clutch for the Bears as of late, especially last weekend, when she hit a team-high .667. On April 16, ASU and Cal had been knotted at 1-1 for two scoreless innings when Elia Reid stepped up to bat. After Reid watched one pitch - the second of the inning - go by for a ball, she creamed the next for a solo shot to put the Bears up, 2-1. In the top of the second on Saturday, it looked like another repeat of Friday night's game when Elia Reid homered for the second game in a row. The Buena Park, Calif., native had a 1-1 count when she sent the ball flying past the wall in right center, distancing the Bears, 4-0. In Sunday's weekend-waning win, Reid had three hits and one RBI to help the Bears to their 11-3 victory.

Earlier This Year Against the Gaels
In the first meeting with Saint Mary's this season, which occurred March 27 at the Aggie Stampede, Cal upped its winning streak to six and overall record to 27-6 with a 6-2 win over Saint Mary's. Freshman hurler Jolene Henderson got the win after giving up zero hits and no earned runs, striking out six, while Shannon Thomas was the offensive leader for the Bears with three hits and two RBI. At the time, it was only the fifth time all season that an opponent scored first with Saint Mary's getting on the board in the top of the first. Cal scored two runs in the second and three in the third to cruise past the Gaels.

Last Season's Series Versus Washington
The most recent visit to Levine-Fricke Field by the Huskies, which was March 27, 2009, saw then-No. 2 UW unlock a 1-1 game with seven runs in the fourth inning to defeat Cal, 9-1 in five innings. In that game, Shannon Thomas provided the only offensive spark for the Bears in the bottom of the third inning when she singled in a run off Washington starter Danielle Lawrie, plating pinch runner Shannon Houston to tie the score at 1-1 heading into the fourth. Cal avoided a series sweep on May 8, 2009, with a 1-0 win thanks to pitcher Marissa Drewrey, who settled in for a pitchers' duel, scattering four hits in her seven-inning complete game victory. Jamia Reid legged out a triple, the first solid scoring opportunity for either team in the game, and came around to score the pivotal run when Thomas bunted in the next at-bat. The ball rolled to the pitcher, who committed an error trying to get the speedy Reid out at the plate, but Reid was safe, putting her team up for good, 1-0. On May 9 in the final game of the UW-Cal series, as well as the close of the regular season, the Huskies scored six runs in the bottom of the first en route to an 11-3 victory.

Ziegenhirt Named Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week
Lindsey Ziegenhirt was instrumental in Cal's first conference series sweep this weekend at Arizona State, hitting four home runs. She finished the weekend with a 1.600 slugging average and six RBIs, making the freshman catcher the Muscle Milk California Student-Athlete of the Week. In the first game of the weekend, the Bears were down, 1-0, in the top of the second when Ziegenhirt had her first homer of the weekend to bring the Bears back into the game, 1-1. Thanks to Ziegenhirt's jump-starting run, Cal went on to win that game, 3-1, to stop a three-game losing skid. Saturday's middle match saw more offensive firepower from the Elk Grove, Calif., native, who hit a three-run smash to give Cal a very early, yet very key, 3-0 lead over ASU. In the top of the third in the same game, for the second time in the game and the third time in two games, Ziegenhirt hit another home run, this one her 12th of the year, putting Cal up, 5-0. On Sunday in the series finale, Cal held a 7-3 lead in the top of the seventh, and Ziegenhirt tallied her fourth homer of the weekend to distance the Bears, 8-3. This home run came after she battled through seven pitches, three of which were fouls, to send one into left. Ziegenhirt is tied with Valerie Arioto on the Cal team with 13 homers, and they are both tied for third in the Pac-10.

Next Week on the Diamond
It's another nonconference mid-week game against a Pacific Coast Softball Conference opponent followed by a conference slate at home next week for the Bears. On Wednesday, April 28, Cal will host Santa Clara at Levine-Fricke Field for a 3 p.m. first pitch. Similar to their record against the Gaels, the Bears have dominated the Broncos in program history, holding a 72-0 all-time record over Santa Clara with Cal's last win occurring Feb. 18, 2009 in a five-inning 11-0 shellacking of the Broncos. For the weekend match-ups, there are three more home Pac-10 games, this time against No. 3 Arizona. The series with the Wildcats is slightly more tumultuous for the Bears for Arizona holds a commonading a 67-21 program lead. The last game between the two schools resulted in a 7-5 Wildcat win on April 19, 2009. Zona also holds a 5-3 record over the Bears in postseason play, though Cal defeated the `Cats in 2002 for the Women's College World Series title.

Fastest Feet vs. the Second-Fastest Feet
This weekend's conferences games will be a match up of the top two base-stealing teams in the conference. For the 10th week in a row, the Bears top the Pac-10 Conference in stealing with the Huskies coming in at second for the 10th week. Cal has stolen a conference high of 110, which is almost more than double the Huskies' second-place 66.They're also first in attempts at 125, which is 48 more than their closest competitor in the reigning national champion Washington, which has 77. Jamie Reid paces the Bears with 41 steals in 48 attempts.

Shannon's Stealing Her Way Into the Records
With one stolen base last weekend, Shannon Thomas is now in fifth place on the single-season stolen-base list with 27 steals thus far in 2010. That steal also pushed her into a tie for sixth place on the all-time steals list with Pam Reinoehl (1980-83), with both Bears owning 60 steals. Thomas will no doubt soon own fourth place this season, as it is currently occupied by Vicky Galindo, who stole 61 bags from 2003-05.

Ninemire Watch 2010: 1,000 Wins
Thanks to Cal's 6-0 win over Sacramento State on April 7, Cal head coach Diane Ninemire achieved an impressive career milestone with her 1,000th career win. Ninemire is the ninth coach in the history of Division I softball to notch 1,000 wins. Already the winningest coach - male or female - in all of Cal history for any sport, Ninemire now has a career record of 1,000-488 and is in her 23rd year as the Bears' head coach. Ninemire has overseen countless players, including 25 All-America selections, 146 All-Pac-10 players, 44 academic All-Americans and 86 All-Region choices. Ninemire won her first game at the helm of the Bears on Feb. 15, 1988, with a 2-0 decision over Pacific in only her second game as a head coach. All of her head coaching experience has been at Cal, where she has registered 22 winning seasons and 22 consecutive trips to the postseason. Ninemire also led Cal to a Women's College World Series title in 2002, which was the first NCAA championship for any women's team in Cal history.

To learn more about Ninemire's tenure at Cal, please consult the Road to 1,000.

Conservative Bears
In a remarkable change in Cal's characteristics, the Bears did not attempt their usually high number of steals last weekend. Versus Arizona, Cal was only a collective 1-2 in stolen bases. For a team that leads the conference in steals (110 in 125 attempts), this was a noticeable shift.

Arioto Named to Top-25 Watch List
Valerie Arioto made the cut for the top-25 finalists for the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA)'s watch list for the ninth annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. This award, which is considered the most prestigious honors in Division I women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. The winner will be chosen from the list of 25 finalists and will be announced at the opening of the NCAA 2010 Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. Of the 25 players on the list, eight of them play in the Pac-10. Arioto was named to the Top-50 Watch List both this and last season.

Jolene for the Save
Freshman right hander Jolene Henderson has earned two saves as of April 13. Henderson needs just one more save to move into a five-way tie for third place in single-season saves. The Elk Grove, Calif., native needs three saves to mount her tally to five to tie for fourth on the career saves list.

Drewrey Striking Out the Record Holders
Thanks to her 20 strikeouts halfway through the 2010 season, senior Marissa Drewrey has moved into the top-five of all-time strikeout leaders at Cal. With 644 career strikeouts to her credit, she displaced Whitney Floyd, who had 628. Coming into this year with 624 Ks, Drewrey earned her 629th strikeout in her first appearance of the season on February 13, 2010 against Michigan State to pass Floyd's 628.

Ever-Enhancing Echavarria
Sophomore outfielder Frani Echavarria has improved by leaps and bounds from her freshman campaign. Last season, Echavarria finished the year with a .193 batting average after starting 49 of Cal's 58 games. This year, the Riverside, Calif., native is batting .331, good for fourth on the team. She's also slugging .421, placing her fifth amongst the Bears, and has 17 RBI to her credit.

Arioto Moving on Up: Homers
Thanks to her three home runs last weekend, Valerie Arioto jumped into a tie for fourth place on the career homers list. She now has 25 roundtrippers to her credit, tying former letterwinner and current volunteer assistant coach Julie Meyers, who hit 25 in her time from 2005-08. To move into third place, Arioto must hit four more this season to surpass Melanie McCart, who has 28. (1994-97).

Jamia Reid: All-Time Steals Leader
Only part way through her sophomore season, Jamia Reid became the new California career leader in steals when she stole her 75th base on March 13 at home versus Fullerton, breaking a record that stood for 17 years. Tallying 47 steals in her freshman campaign (2009) and 41 as of April 20, 2010, for her current career total of 88, Reid well surpasses Keri Kropke (1990-93), who had 74. With those 41 bags, she is also six steals short of passing herself on the single-season steal list, on which she commands first place with the 47 bases she stole last year.

Reid + Thomas = Lethal One-Two Combo
Jamia Reid is earning her keep in the lead-off spot with her team-high .373 batting average and slapping ability in addition to a .394 on-base percentage. In sheer softball line-up genius, batting behind her is Shannon Thomas, who leads the conference and the Cal squad with 13 sacrifice hits. When you factor in that Reid paces the Pac-10 with 41 steals and Thomas is right behind her with 27, you get a deadly combination in the first and second spots in the Cal line-up.

Terrific Twitter
You can get the latest news and insider information by following Cal softball on Twitter! Twitter is a free social networking and micro-bloggging service that enables its users to send and read each others' updates that are only 140 characters long. Followers of @CalSoftball can see in-game scoring updates, pictures, links to stories on CalBears.com and more! To become a follower, point your browser to www.twitter.com/CalSoftball.

The Paparazzi
Like any of the pictures on CalBears.com? They are available for purchase! GoldenBearSports.com, the official photographer of the Cal Athletics Department, has game photos available for purchase on their Web site at GoldenBearSports.com. You can also follow @GBSports on Twitter to get instant notifications when new albums and galleries are posted to the website. Visit www.twitter.com/gbsports to follow.

Top of the Rankings to Ya!
In the preseason rankings, the Bears fared quite well. Cal was ranked 11th in the country, according to the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason poll after finishing in the 12 spot in the final 2009 ranking. During the 2010 regular season, the Bears will face off against nine of the other 24 teams in that poll, including defending national champion Washington. The Bears were ranked No. 12 in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Poll.

Remembering Last Season
Last year, Cal qualified for the postseason for the 24th consecutive year, the second-longest streak in the nation and the longest in the Pac-10. The Bears won their NCAA Regional at Florida State before falling at top-seeded Florida in the Super Regionals. Over the course of the year, the Bears broke team records for stolen bases (146) and home runs (55).

Bears on the National Scene
Vicky Galindo, a three-year letterwinner for the California softball team, accepted a spot on the U.S. national team and current junior standout Valerie Arioto was named an alternate, the ASA announced recently. Arioto and Galindo attended the 2010 softball women's national team selection camp, which was held in Chula Vista, Calif., from Jan. 4-8. Galindo was one of 17 athletes who was offered a USA Softball Athlete Agreement for the 2010 season. The squad will be competing in the ISF Women's World Championships, held June 23-July 2 in Caracas, Venezuela, as well as other events to be scheduled at a later date.

Hall of Fame Status
California head coach Diane Ninemire was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's 2009 Hall of Fame class in December. Ninemire, who joined Frank Cheek of Humboldt State University and Bill Edwards of Hofstra University, was inducted in front of the NFCA, former Golden Bears, her colleagues and family members at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. During Ninemire's tenure at Cal, 35 All-America, 86 all-region and 146 all-conference certificates have been issued to the Bears. Since her first year in the dugout in 1988, Ninemire has continually taken the Bears to new heights as one of the winningest and most successful softball programs in the nation. From 1999-2005, Cal made seven straight trips to the College World Series, and Ninemire has one national championship, nine Women's College World Series trips, and 21 straight NCAA Regional appearances to her credit.

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