No. 8 Cal Visits Miami For Blue and Gold Classic

March 11, 2003

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WHAT'S ON TAP: With a tournament title under its belt, No. 8 California travels to Miami, FL to compete in the six-team Blue and Gold Classic. The Golden Bears (19-6), who won the National Invitational Softball Tournament last weekend, face Florida Atlantic and Syracuse Friday, March 14 at 1 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. ET, respectively. Cal faces No. 21 University of Massachusetts and host Florida International Saturday before entering the championship round Sunday afternoon.

THE FIELD: In addition to Cal's first four scheduled games, No. 19 Texas A&M (18-8) rounds out the six-squad tourney. Florida Atlantic (10-13) posts a .208 team BA, topped by Pam Mazzarella's .328 BA (20-61). Earlier in the season, the Owls swept Ohio State (3-2, 2-1) while losing to Arizona (0-2) and UCLA (0-7). Syracuse (4-6) has a team .261 BA and 1.81 ERA. Cal leads the series 1-0. The Massachusetts Minutewomen enter this weekend with an even 7-7 overall record including a 4-4 mark against ranked opponents. They defeated fellow Pac-10 schools ASU, 5-2, and OSU, 7-1, while falling to Washington, 1-0. Brandi Cross tops the team's batting average at .316 (12-for-38). Cal leads the series, 9-0. Florida International (12-17) is led by Stephanie Wolter's .321 BA (27-for-84) that includes four doubles, two triples, one home run and eight RBI's. This is the first meeting between the two teams.

BEARS EARN FIRST TITLE IN 2003 AT NIST: For the fifth time in the 17-year existence of the National Invitational Softball Tournament, California emerged as the 11-team tournament champion of the San Jose State-hosted event, producing 20 runs to its opponents' three. Remaining undefeated with wins past No. 24 Minnesota (3-2) and Sacramento State (4-0) in pool play, the Bears advanced to the winners bracket. Cal slid by Georgia Tech 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth, proceeding to the semi-final game with only 11 hits under its belt. In a rematch of the 2002 World Series semi-final game, California once again defeated No. 10 Arizona State (6-1) in its first contest against a Pac-10 foe this season, collecting 12 hits. The Bears blanked No. 23 Oregon, 6-0, out-hitting the Ducks, 13-3, to be crowned tourney champs. Cal was also the NIST champion in 1991, 1998, 1999 and 2001.

ANDERSON SIZZLES AT NIST: Right-hander Kelly Anderson dominated NIST opponents' bats, walking away from the tourney with a remarkable 0.00 ERA, including three complete game shutouts in four appearances. The sophomore tossed 25.0 innings while allowing a mere seven singles and seven walks, while whiffing 25 batters. For her brilliant showing, Anderson was named to the all-tournament squad.

THE BAGEL EFFECT: The defending National Champions, despite losing CWS MVP Jocelyn Forest, have already recorded 12 shutouts this season while only being blanked twice - vs. No. 20 Ohio State, 1-0, and Hawaii, 1-0.

SENIORS TOP THE CHARTS: Cal is currently batting .303 with runners on base, led by seniors Courtney Scott's 15-for-49 performance (.306 BA) and Veronica Nelson's 12-for-28 showing (.429 BA).

CLUTCH: Jessica Pamanian seems to shine in pressure situations, hitting .500 (4-for-8) with the bases loaded and 10-for-33 (.303) with runners in scoring position.

CAN YOU FEEL THE BREEZE? With 25 games under its belt, the California pitching staff has collected 100 more strikeouts than its opponents. The Bears' 189 fanned batters presents a 7.77 strikeout per game ratio while averaging only 2.22 walks per game.

KICKING IT OFF RIGHT: Kelly Anderson has only allowed 13 of 85 leadoff batters on base for a .153 average. As a team, Cal has seen only 37 of a possible 170 leadoff batters reach base (.218) while the Bears' offense has placed successfully 61 of 162 leadoff batters on base (.377).

CAL VERSUS RANKED TEAMS: The Bears are 6-4 versus ranked teams, outscoring their opponents', 39-19 against ranked teams. Cal boasts a .258 BA while its opponents are hitting .154 against the Bears' pitching staff. Other noteworthy stats versus nationally ranked teams: Courtney Scott seems to step up to the competition, leading Cal with a .452 BA (14-for-31) including two doubles, a home run and seven RBI. Veronica Nelson has picked up 18 walks while managing to pull off a .353 BA (6-for-17) with two home runs and six RBI. This season, Kristina Thorson is 3-1 (1.12 ERA) on the mound against these teams and Kelly Anderson is 3-3 (1.54 ERA).

WAS IT WORTH IT? Despite leaving the Worth Tournament two weeks ago with a 2-3 record, California does have some bragging rights. Individually, sophomore transfer Vicky Galindo had the second-best average of the 10-team tourney at .462 (6-for-13). The Bears placed two more in the Top 10 with Courtney Scott and Lindsay James tying for eighth with a .375 BA. On the mound, Kristina Thorson's 0.40 ERA was good enough for the third-best ERA as she collected a 1-2 mark, walking just one batter in 17.1 innings.

INSIDE THE HEAD OF AN ALL-AMERICAN: First baseman Veronica Nelson writes a weekly journal entry posted on the calbears website, Roni's Remarks. It can be found at: http://calbears.ocsn.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/nelson-index.html

ON THE WEB: Follow the Blue and Gold Classic live on the web at www.fiusports.com.

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