No. 16/13 Bears Host Broncos in Free Mid-Week Match-Up
April 27, 2010
BERKELEY - The No. 16/13 California softball team is taking a break from the world of the Pac-10 with a nonconference mid-week game, hosting Santa Clara on Wednesday, April 28 at Levine-Fricke Field for a 3 p.m. first pitch. 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. Admission to the game is free to the general public.
Later This Week on the Diamond
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 commanding 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.
The Road to 1,000: The 2002 National Championship
One of the most important aspects of California softball head coach Diane Ninemire's preparations for the 2002 Women's College World Series did not involve softball. It was not a rigorous defensive drill, batting practice or even throwing. It was a team trip to the WCWS logo in center field. It was there that Ninemire, who had just guided the Golden Bears to their fourth straight trip to the hallowed grounds of Oklahoma City, read to the Bears. She did not draw upon famous quotes or a story of Cal yore. Instead, in her hands, she had a story published in the local Oklahoma newspaper.
Veteran Arizona head coach Mike Candrea gave an interview to the paper in which he stated that no one could overlook the Bears. He noted that the 2002 squad was a scrappy group with good power and could overtake anyone. It was that quote and article that
Ninemire distinctly remembers reading to her team prior to the opening day of the WCWS.
'I really challenged the team when we got to the World Series that week,' Ninemire said. 'I lined them up on the logo and read them that. I told them that their dream of winning the national title could come true, but that we all had to believe that we were the best team that week.'
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Last Weekend on the Diamond
The top-ranked team in the nation and defending national champion Washington emerged the victor in last weekend's Pac-10 Conference stand at Levine-Ficke Field. The No. 1 Huskies (37-5 overall/9-3 in the Pac-10 Conference) powered past the Bears behind a perfect game from All-American hurler Danielle Lawrie, who issued 14 strikeouts in under 100 pitches. The weekend was nowhere near a complete loss for the Bears had exploded for eight runs in the second inning to notch one of the biggest upsets in program history with the 9-1 five-inning win over No. 1 Washington on April 24. The Bears earned their first upset of a top-ranked team since 2003 with Saturday's run-rule victory over UW to even the series with one win apiece. On Friday, Cal went toe-to-toe with the best team in the country, but lost the final decision, 1-0, in 1-0 innings at Levine-Fricke Field. A fielding error by the Bears allowed the Huskies to score the game-winning run in the top of the 10th to take the Pac-10 series opener.
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Cal-Saint Mary's Tilt Postponed to May 5
Inclement weather cancelled last Wednesday's mid-week match-up between Cal and Saint Mary's. The game, which was originally slated for Wednesday, April 21 at 3 p.m., has been rescheduled for Wednesday, May 5 at 3 p.m. in Moraga, Calif. The Bears hold the perfect 45-0 all-time series record, which was extended thanks to their 6-2 win over the Gaels on March 27 at the Aggie Stampede.
Last Time the Bears Bucked the Broncos
In 2009 season's outing against Santa Clara, Valerie Arioto was spectacular at the plate and in the circle in Cal's 11-0 win in five innings over the Broncos in the home opener at Levine-Fricke Field on Feb. 18, 2009. The sophomore blasted a grand slam in the second inning and pitched her first shutout of the season and striking out nine in the process. Shannon Thomas collected two hits and a run, while Frani Echavarria, Taylor Kelly and Elia Reid all had two runs as well. After a scoreless first inning, Cal got things going in the second and took a 5-0 lead on the Broncos. The Bears then took advantage of a pair of miscues by Santa Clara in the third to score six more runs and build an 11-0 lead.
The Broncos, who are 9-25 overall and 1-10 in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference, have just two hitters averaging above .301 in Kristin Welsh (.333) and Briana Knight (.301). Thus far in the season, Santa Clara has been outmatched by its opponents, who have scored 217 runs to SCU's 109. The Broncos split time in the circle between four pitchers with Kaitlyn Rauschnot handling the majority of the work, giving up 86 runs, 145 hits and 49 walks in 106.2 innings of work with a team-low 5.57 ERA. Last weekend saw Santa Clara break an eight-game losing skid thanks with a 7-6 win over Loyola Marymount. Though they lost the final three games of last weekend, four runs on five hits, including two doubles, powered the Broncos to their first Pacific Coast Softball Conference victory on April 24 with the 7-6 win over the Lions.
Valerie Arioto: Moving On Up
Thanks to her performances last weekend versus the Huskies, junior utility Valerie Arioto grew in stature in the Cal record books. In career runs, Arioto moved from fifth into a tie with Vicky Galindo for fourth place with 141 runs. Arioto had one homer last week to break the tie with former letterwinner and current volunteer assistant coach Julie Meyer for career homers. Prior to last weekend, Arioto and Meyer were knotted in fourth place with 25 roundtrippers apiece. As of April 27, Arioto is in sole possession of fourth place with 26 homers. She needs three more to surpass Melanie McCart, who sits in third with 28 homers from 1994-97.
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.
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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.