No. 4 California Saddles Up for Desert Series Showdowns

April 27, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. -

WHAT'S ON TAP FOR CAL SOFTBALL: No. 4 California, coming off a long road trip last weekend covering the length of the West Coast from Seattle to Los Angeles, is back in the friendly skies this weekend, traveling first to Tucson for a 7 p.m. showdown with No. 1 Arizona at Hillenbrand Stadium. Following the Wildcats, the Bears move on for a two-game series in Tempe with Arizona State. Game times at Farrington Stadium are set for 7 p.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

A LOOK AT THE NO. 1 ARIZONA WILDCATS: Coming off its first Pac-10 loss of the season, No. 1 Arizona (45-2 overall, 9-1 in the Pac-10) returns to Tucson for a two-week, seven-game home stretch. No. 13 Oregon put the first conference kink in the Wildcats' armor last Sunday with a 1-0 win in Eugene. Junior 3B Ashley Richards hit a solo leadoff home run in the eighth inning to hand sophomore P Alicia Hollowell her first loss of the year. Nevertheless, Hollowell recorded 11 strikeouts to reach 400 for the season, breaking her own school record of 394. Arizona will host rival Arizona State on Wednesday before entertaining the Bears Friday and No. 10 Stanford Saturday and Sunday.

SCOUTING THE ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS: While the No. 1 Wildcats were sobered with their first conference loss Sunday, Arizona State (31-23 overall, 1-9 in the Pac-10) was busy enjoying its first win, taking a 7-2 victory at No. 16 Oregon State. The Sun Devils exploded for a six-run second inning that included a grand slam from Valeria Sevilla, her third slam of the season and 13th home run on the year. Kristin Farber also set the ASU season record for stolen bases with her 32nd. Arizona State had not scored a single run before Sunday since its April 4 loss to Washington at home. Stanford plays ASU Friday night before Cal comes to town, trading Arizona to the Cardinal for the weekend.

OLYMPIC COACHES ON STAGE IN TEMPE: Cal head coach Diane Ninemire and Arizona State head coach Linda Wells will be on opposite sides of the diamond this weekend, but that's just for now. The two friends will be joining forces postseason when they take the reigns of the Greek National Team at this summer's Olympic Games in Athens. Wells will head the Greek squad with Ninemire as her assistant. Together the pair has more than 45 years of coaching experience and have won over 1,620 games.

NOTHING COMES EASY IN THE PAC-10: Twelve games into the Pac-10 season, California is used to hard-fought battles. And while the Bears have the third-highest overall winning percentage (.792) this season in the conference, they sit fifth in the Pac-10 standings. Cal and UCLA are two games behind Washington, three games behind Oregon and Stanford and five off Arizona. Seven of the conference's eight teams are ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll, released Wednesdays each week.

NINE CONFERENCE GAMES REMAIN FOR BEARS' BATS: With nine Pac-10 games remaining on California's 2004 schedule, the Bears' know they need to keep improving at the plate in order to ensure postseason success. Two Bears have been doing just that since Pac-10 play commenced April 2. Sophomore LF Lindsay James and junior 3B Vicky Galindo are among the Pac-10's Top 5 for hits in conference games with 13 and 12, respectively. Not all that surprisingly, they are also sitting tied for first in conference games for their six stolen bases. However, as a team, California is batting a mere .196 against the Pac-10.

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