Cal Faces Stiff Competition in the Capital Classic this Weekend

March 12, 2008

Berkeley -

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QuicklyThe California softball team, winners of seven of its last eight games and 12 of its last 14 dating back to Feb. 23, travels to Sacramento for the Capital Classic, hosted by Sacramento State, Mar. 14-16 at the Sacramento Softball Complex. The Bears face some stiff competition at the tournament, including No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 19 Ohio State.

About the Capital ClassicSacramento State will host the 2008 Capital Classic Softball Tournament this Friday through Sunday, March 14-16, at the Sacramento Softball Complex. In its 16th year of existence, the Capital Classic boasts a lineup of teams from throughout the nation. In all, nine teams will be at the tournament, encompassing six states and eight conferences comprised of the Big Ten, Big 12, Big West, Ivy League, Mountain West, Pacific-10, Pacific Coast Softball and Western Athletic Conferences. The Capital Classic features a round-robin format with a total of 23 games being played over three days. A tournament champion will be declared on the final day of competition based on record. Should two or more teams be tied for the top record in the tournament, a series of tiebreakers will be used to declare the tournament champion. Complete results throughout the tournament can be found inside the softball page at

The entire tournament field includes Cal, Cal Poly, Colorado State, Nevada, Northern Colorado, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Princeton and Sacramento State. Of the nine teams, only one will be making its first appearance ever at the Capital Classic (Northern Colorado). Besides Sacramento State, Cal has made the most tournament appearances (10), followed by Cal Poly (3), Colorado State (2), Nevada (2), Ohio State (2),Oklahoma (2) and Princeton (1).

A total of nine games will be played on both Friday and Saturday, and five more contests on Sunday to round out tournament play. Games will take place at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday, while Sunday features games at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Tournament play at the softball complex kicks off with three games at 10 a.m. on Friday and concludes with two games on Sunday at 11 a.m. Sacramento State has won three Capital Classic championships (1995, 1996, 2006) since the tournament began in 1993 while Cal has won two titles in 1994 and 2000.

Recapping the NISTCal finished the National Invitational Softball Tournament with a 4-1 record, collecting wins against Boston College, Western Kentucky, San Jose State and Northern Iowa. Freshman Sanoe Kekahuna and Bernice Masaniai packed a offensive punch hitting .462 and .412 respectively in the three-day tournament. Kekahuna scored five runs, while Masaniai belted two home runs. Valerie Arioto, who hit .316 at the plate, also went 2-0 in the circle with a save and 22 strikeouts.

Hot batsCal has 254 hits (second in the Pac-10) through 29 games this season, 23 more than last season when the Bears had 231 hits through 29 games ... Cal entered the record books in 2007 with 470 hits - tenth-best all-time ... the Bears also have eight players (with a minimum of 10 plate appearances) hitting .300 or better ... freshman Sanoe Kekahuna leads the team in batting average (.407), doubles (10), home runs (6), RBI (32) and total bases (63) ... Cal's RBI production is up from last season as well -- the Bears have accumulated 161 RBI, eight more than last year through 29 games ... Cal set a program record 278 RBI last season ... the timely hitting has led to a bundle of runs as well -- Cal has crossed home plate 182 times, third-most in the Pac-10 and two ahead of last year's pace of 180 through 29 games ... Cal had a school-record 322 runs scored last season as well.

The Big KahunaTo say that Sanoe Kekahuna is playing well this season would be a severe understatement. The freshman product from Maui is producing at a blistering pace at the dish this season. Kekahuna ranks in the top 10 in several categories among the Pac-10 leaders - seventh in home runs (6), second in RBI (32), ninth in slugging percentage (.733), third in total bases (63) and second in doubles (10). Kekahuna also owns the league's longest hitting streak, which lasted 12 games from Feb. 10-Feb. 23. Kekahuna is already 26 RBI away from tying the school single-season record of 58 set by Haley Woods in 2005. Kekahuna could also potentially break into the top 5 single season hits record. Gillian Boxx had 90 hits in 1995.

Local celebrityReferenced by Graham Hays of on his 'new faces poised to make instant impacts,' Valerie Arioto is one of the brightest young stars in the Pac-10 at the plate and in the circle. The freshman product from Pleasanton notched her first career home run as a Golden Bear against Sacramento State on Mar. 11. Arioto went 2-0 and collected a save at the NIST, Mar. 7-9 ... she produced a team-best .563 average with two doubles, a triple and eight runs at the Eller Media Stadium Classic (Feb. 29-Mar. 2) ... she hit .333 at the dish at the Mustang Classic, with six runs and five RBI. She picked up her third win of the year after allowing an earned run on three hits in five innings of work with five strikeouts against UAB on Feb. 22 ... she tossed her first collegiate complete game, one-hit shutout (and nine strikeouts) against Western Michigan on Feb. 16 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. ... she tallied a .467 batting average to go along with two runs, a double, a triple and four RBI at the Cathedral City Classic (Feb. 8-10) ... her impact at the plate was key in Cal's 5-1 win over Winthrop (2/9), when she went 2-for-3 with four RBI, including a bases-clearing triple in the second inning which gave Cal a 3-0 lead ... Arioto is hitting .402 this season, with 26 runs (sixth in the Pac-10), four triples (No. 1 in the Pac-10), 20 RBI and has a 1.88 ERA with 61 strikeouts in the circle.

Rarely caught stealingSenior Erika Racklin has 15 stolen bases in 17 attempts this season and currently has 59 for her career (68 attempts) - fourth all-time in program history. But Racklin isn't the only Cal Bear not getting caught stealing. Shannon Houston is 5-for-5, Gina Leomiti is 4-for-4 and Bernice Masaniai and Katie Vickers are both 2-for-2 in stolen base attempts.

Multiple offendersTen Golden Bears have had multi-hit games this season, including freshman Valerie Arioto, who has a team-best 11 multi-hit games - including four three-hit performances. Arioto also has a current five-game hitting streak. Erika Racklin, who has 10 multi-hit games this year, had a season-high three hits against Western Kentucky on Mar. 2 ... freshman Sanoe Kekahuna is also a multiple offender, leading the team with nine multiple RBI games this year ... In fact three Bears have had five or more RBI in a single game this season (Kekahuna, Bernice Masaniai and Julie Meyer).

Coming out swingingCal has outscored its opponents 62-16 in the first two innings of games played this season (30-10 in the first inning and 32-6 in the second inning) ... that scoring outburst has helped Cal to a 16-1 record when leading after two innings this season.

Standing tall in the circleMarissa Drewrey, the 6-3 product from Oakdale, CA, has a team-high nine wins in the circle (fifth in the Pac-10) this season with a 1.83 ERA (seventh in the Pac-10) and 112 strikeouts (fifth in the Pac-10). She won her 20th career game, allowing one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts against No. 15-ranked Hawaii (Mar. 1) ... she tossed a one-hitter against Santa Clara (Feb. 23), striking out nine of the 15 batters she faced ... Drewrey earned the win against Nebraska at the Kajikawa Classic on Feb. 15 when she allowed one run on one hit and six Ks in seven innings of work in Cal's 6-1 victory. She was impressive in Cal's opening weekend of play at the Cathedral City Classic when she recorded a career-best 14 strikeouts vs. Winthrop and had 13 strikeouts the following game vs. New Mexico State. She finished the tournament with 40 strikeouts in 28.2 innings pitched (with a 0.73 ERA) ... last season, Drewrey didn't record her 40th strikeout until Mar. 28 at Pacific (or 73.3 innings pitched).

Pitching propsCal's pitching this season has been steady this season with a 2.25 ERA through 29 games as compared to its 3.60 ERA through 29 games last season ... strikeouts are way up as well, as the pitching staff has totaled 197 Ks this season - 67 more than last year's mark of 130 through 29 games ... sophomore Marissa Drewrey has accounted for 112 of Cal's strikeouts this year.

Senior leadershipBefore the start of the season, head coach Diane Ninemire was hoping to get plenty leadership from the seniors to guide the Bears this season. So far so good. Katie Vickers is hitting .353 this season with 11 RBI and a home run ... Erika Racklin has a .310 batting average with 27 runs (sixth in the Pac-10) and 15 stolen bases (third in the Pac-10) ... Julie Meyer is hitting .250 and hit a grand slam against Long Beach State on Feb. 29.

How are the other newcomers doing?Carrie Arth has provided a nice spark for the Bears and has six starts to her credit ... she went 1-for-3 and hit her first career home run against Santa Clara on Feb. 23 and scored a run and had a double against Sacramento State on Feb. 24.

Savannah Hensley has appeared primarily as a pinch runner, but has produced when on the base pads ... she has six runs and two RBI in 10 at bats this season ... she has also started four games.

900 for Ninemire21st year head coach Diane Ninemire reached another milestone in her storied California tenure with career win No. 900, after the Golden Bears defeated Long Beach State, 15-7 at the Eller Media Stadium Classic (hosted by UNLV) on Feb. 29. 'I'm very proud to have coached 21 years at Cal,' said Ninemire. 'The 900th win is very special and the team did it in style, putting up 15 runs against a quality opponent in Long Beach State. I'm extremely proud of my career at Cal. Every win has been sweet, but I'll remember this for a long time.' Ninemire has accumulated the second-most wins in Pac-10 history (909) and is the 11th softball coach in NCAA history to have 900 or more wins. The next winningest active coach in the Pac-10 is Stanford's John Rittman, who had 465 entering the 2008 season. Mississippi State's Jay Miller (slated at No. 12 all-time in NCAA wins) had 899 wins in 26 years through games played Feb. 29. Ninemire's 900+ wins in 21 years of service at Cal ranks her first among active coaches in their 21st year, well ahead of Tennessee's Ralph Weekly (15th all-time) and Texas Tech's Teresa Wilson (16th all-time).