No. 5 California Faces No. 14 Fresno State in First Round of NCAA Regional
May 14, 2002
BERKELEY - Bears Seeded 3rd in NCAA Region 4:The California Golden Bears softball team earned a No. 3 seed and their 17th consecutive bid to the NCAA Tournament and will play host, Fresno State (49-18) in a first round regional game, Thursday in Fresno, Calif.
The Bears, 48-19 overall and ranked 5th in the country, return to Fresno State for a NCAA Regional for the 10th time in school history. Cal advanced to the Women's College World Series three of those seasons, most recently in 2000 when the Bears defeated the Bulldogs, 2-0, in the regional finals.
Cal State Fullerton (50-11) earned the No. 1 seed and the Titans take on Evansville (34-25) in the first round. Fullerton is the top seed in the region, followed by No. 2 seed Stanford (43-18), No. 3 Cal, No. 4 Fresno State, No. 5 Pacific (42-15) and No. 6 Evansville.
Cal is 36-60 all-time against FSU. The two teams met earlier in the season at the Fiesta Bowl Classic, Feb. 8, where the Bulldogs edged the Bears, 1-0.
In last season's regional, Cal knocked off Florida State in 10 innings in the regional final, 3-2.
The Bears are 38-38 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 31-26 in regional competition. The Bears have advanced to the NCAA College World Series six times, in 1986, '92, '96, '99, '00 and 2001.
Teams at Fresno Regional
No. 1 Cal State Fullerton (50-11)
No. 2 Stanford (43-18)
No. 3 California (48-19)
No. 4 Fresno State (49-18)
No. 5 Pacific (42-15)
No. 6 Evansville (34-25)
Golden Bears Earn 17th Straight NCAA Bid: With its invitation to the postseason this year, Cal is making its 17th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament - the longest on-going streak in the Pac-10. The Bears have an all-time record of 38-38 in NCAA play, including a 31-26 mark during NCAA Regional competition. Last season, Cal defeated Florida State at the NCAA Regionals in dramatic fashion to advance to its eighth WCWS appearance. Kristen Morley's double in the bottom of the 10 inning scored Eryn Manahan and Amber Phillips to give Cal the 3-2 win. The Bears have appeared in three consecutive WCWS. In 1999, Cal finished third at the World Series, its highest finish ever, bowing out in the semifinals to Washington, 3-0. In 2000, tied for seventh, losing games to Arizona and Oklahoma, the eventual champion. Last season, the Bears finished tied for fifth in the WCWS, defeating Michigan, 5-2, but dropping to Arizona, 3-2, and Stanford, 1-0.
Best Pac-10 Mark Since 1996: The Bears, who went 12-9, finished above .500 in the cut-throat Pac-10 Conference for the first since 1996 when Cal went 14-12 en route to a fifth-place tie at the College World Series. The last time the Bears finished with a better winning percentage (.571) was in 1991 when Cal was 14-6 (.700). Overall, Pac-10 finishes haven't meant much to the Bears as in 2001 when Cal tied for seventh in the conference, but concluded the WCWS tied for fifth. In 1999, when the Bears reached the semifinals of the WCWS, they finished fifth in the Pac-10 with a 13-14 mark.
Cal Defense is Best in School History: One of the key reasons for Cal's success this season is the fact that the Bears don't give opponents extra opportunities to score through miscues on defense. Throughout 2002, the defense has been one of the stingiest, ever, at Cal. The Bears' fielding percentage of .975 is .002 points higher then the season record set by the 2001 squad. In 67 regular season games, Cal has committed just 48 errors. Individually, Courtney Scott has been a dominating presence behind the plate as she has a .998 fielding percentage. She also has gunned down 21 of 39 would-be base stealers. At second base, Jessica Pamanian carries a .980 fielding percentage.
Forest in Company of Cal Great and 1996 Olympian Michele Granger: Senior pitcher Jocelyn Forest, who was also a 2001 second team All-American, joins four-time first team All-American and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Michele Granger in Cal's record books. Forest's 20th win of the year against Washington, April 28, makes her the only other pitcher in Cal history to win 20 or more games in all four seasons at Cal. Forest is also second to Granger in many other career pitching categories at Cal, including wins, strikeouts, games and innings pitched.
Pitcher Wins Strikeouts Games IP1. Michele Granger 119 1640 183 1202.22. Jocelyn Forest 95 1139 163 934.2
Nelson Breaks NCAA Walk Mark, Approaches Single Season Record: Junior first baseman Veronica Nelson broke the NCAA career walk record March 2 versus Cal State Fullerton, as she collected her 212th base on ball in her first at-bat of the game. Nelson overtook Oregon State's Tarrah Beyster (1997-2000) with more than a season of eligibility remaining. Nelson currently sits at 271 walks. At the conclusion of the regular season, Nelson tallied 91 base on balls, which is just three walks shy of the single season walk mark that she has re-recorded the past to seasons. When Nelson does have an opportunity to swing the bat, she has made opponents pay. The Oakland native leads the team in homers with nine and batting with a .349 average. Nelson is also Cal's all-time homerun leader with 42.
Diane Ninemire Reaches 600: Diane Ninemire, in her 15th year at Cal, reached the 600-win plateau Feb. 8 in a 6-2 win over Kansas. She started the 2002 season with 597 victories, but now stands at 642-336, well on her way to 700 wins.
Freshman Come Up Big in 2002: Cal has eight new players on its 15-player active roster, and with the exception of Roni Rodrigues, who is a junior transfer, all are freshman adjusting to the college scene. The players up the middle - second base, shortstop, centerfield - played by Jessica Pamanian, Chelsea Spencer and Kaleo Eldredge, respectively, have been key players with the Bears. On defense, the three combine for a .970 fielding percentage. Offensively, they collectively hit .291 with 81 RBI. Eldredge leads the team in hits with 72. First-year pitchers Kelly Anderson and Cassie Bobrow have been crucial contributors, as well, particularly during the tournament stretch when Cal played up to six games a weekend. Anderson has tallied 52 strikeouts in 62.1 innings of work, while Bobrow started off her collegiate career throwing 32 consecutive scoreless innings. She also tossed a perfect game against Illinois Feb. 24, winning 8-0.
Scott Earns Honors On and Off Field: Junior catcher Courtney Scott has gone under a transformation of sorts. After batting .229 her first two years at Cal, Scott has turned up the heat offensively. Not only has she led the team in batting for most of the season (.328), but she has been the RBI leader for the Bears all year at 43. In April, Scott was invited by Team USA to try out for the national team this summer in Chula Vista, Calif. In addition, her clutch hitting in two upset wins over then-No. 1 Arizona earned her Pac-10 Player of the Week April 22. On May 8, the College Sports Information Directors of America named Scott to the Verizon Academic All-America district VIII first team, recognizing her 3.20 GPA as an American Studies major.
Harper: Ironwoman and Doubles Queen: You can call her the Cal Ripken Jr. of softball, unfortunately, Candace Harper's illustrious career will come to a close without having the opportunity to be as accomplished as the future Hall of Famer. Through 286 games that Cal has played while Harper has been on the roster, she has played in 285 of them. In addition, her 18 doubles this season broke Cal's single season record, which she set last season. Harper is now also the all-time leader in doubles with 49 in her career, two more than Melanie McCart.
5 Bears Earn Pac-10 Honors: Cal's Jocelyn Forest was selected to the first team All-Pac-10 squad, while four others made the second team - freshman Kaleo Eldredge, juniors Veronica Nelson and Courtney Scott and senior Candace Harper. This marks the first time since 1993 that the Bears have had five or more players on the first or second team.