No. 12/13 California Plays Final Three Games of the Regular Season
May 5, 2009
The No. 12/13 California Golden Bears play their final three games of the regular season this week, taking on a pair of top-five ranked teams. Cal travels to Los Angeles to take on the No. 3/2 UCLA Bruins Thursday, May 7 at 1 p.m. The Bears then head north to Seattle for a pair of games against the No. 4/5 Washington Huskies, playing Friday, May 8 at 3 p.m. and then closing out the regular season on Saturday, May 9 with a game at 12 p.m.
Cal moved up one spot in both polls this week, coming in at No. 13 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top-25 poll and at No. 12 in the USA Today/NFCA poll. The Pac-10 continues to dominate the polls with three of the top-five teams in both polls coming out of the conference. Oregon and Oregon State are the only teams in the Pac-10 not ranked in the top-25.
The Bears won their final non-Conference game of the season, defeating UC Davis 3-1 in Davis last week, giving them their 25th win this season over a team outside of the Pac-10.
The Bears battled the elements and the Arizona schools over the weekend. The teams lost their fight with the rain on Friday night, having to cancel their showdown with Arizona. Because of the tight schedule, the game will not be rescheduled. Saturday and Sunday's games each had their first pitches pushed back two hours because of rain, but both ended up being played in almost completely dry conditions.
Cal's 4-2 victory over Arizona State on Saturday was the ninth Pac-10 victory of the season for the Bears. Even with three games left in the season, the Bears already have more Conference victories than they have logged each of the last two seasons when they posted a 7-14 Pac-10 records.
The Bears closed out the home portion of their schedule with a 10-2 record at Levine-Fricke Field. The Bears won eight-straight home games this season, with their two losses coming in the home opener and the final home game of the year.
A victory at UCLA on Thursday would give Cal only its second sweep ever of the Bruins. In 1998, the two teams played each other twice, with Cal winning both games at home, 8-1 and 6-0. The Bears swept the home portion of the series earlier this season, downing the Bruins 7-6 and 9-5. A victory over UCLA would be the first time the Bears swept the Bruins when facing one another three or more times in a season dating back to 1978.
Junior pitcher/first baseman Valerie Arioto is the hottest hitter for the Bears right now. Arioto batted .400 this last week and has had a hit in 11 of her last 12 games. Arioto, who improved made it safely on-base six times last week, improved her season on-base percentage to a team-best .481. and her team-leading batting average to .352.
The Bears had six different players log extra-base hits last week, with four doubles and two home runs. Arioto and junior catcher Bernice Masaniai each hit solo home runs for the Bears. Senior first baseman Gina Leomiti highlighted her senior day by hitting a double. Junior short stop Taylor Kelly, junior third baseman Vernae Sevilla, and sophomore catcher Sanoe Kekahuna accounted for the other three doubles.
Record Breaking Season The 2009 California Golden Bears own two school records. The Bears shattered the season stolen base record, The previous record had stood for 30 years. In 1979, the team stole 104 bases. The 2005 team had flirted with the record, coming up a few shy (100 stolen bases). Shannon Thomas stole the 105th base of the season on March 27 in the Bears' home game against Washington.
Jamia Reid set the individual single-season stolen base mark when she stole her 29th base of the season on March 25 at Pacific. She passed the previous record of 28 that was jointly shared by Keri Kropke (1992) and the Bears' volunteer assistant coach Erika Racklin, who stole 28 last season for the Bears. Shannon Thomas also passed the 28-steal mark this year and has the second-highest single-season total in program history, currently at 30. Elia Reid may also pass the previous record-mark. She currently has 26 stolen bases.
The Bears also have set the new standard for home runs in a season. Valerie Arioto hit a lead off home run in the May 2 game against Arizona State, the 50th blast of the season for Cal. The 2007 team set the previous record of 49. There have only been three Cal teams to belt more than 40 home runs as a team in a single season, with the 2005 squad finishing with 46.
Speed Racers Freshman outfielder Jamia Reid swiped six bags last week. Reid has not been caught stealing since March 7, a span of 30 games, and she has now been success on 22 straight steal attempts. Junior second baseman Shannon Thomas and Arioto each had three stolen bases this week, combining with Reid to go 12-for-13 on the basepaths. The Bears have only had one runner thrown out since April 17, going 23-for-24 over the span of the last eight games. The Bears have stolen at least one base in each of the last ten games. Cal ranks fourth in the nation in steals per game (2.74) and has a Pac-10-best 137 stolen bases in the books (on 153 attempts). The second closest team in the Pac-10 is Washington with 67 stolen bases, 70 fewer than Cal. The Bears had a school record nine thefts against George Washington (2/14), and have recorded five or more stolen bases in a single game 12 times this season. Cal stole seven bases last Wednesday at Davis, their highest single-game total since swiping seven against Hawai'i on March 12.
Freshman Jamia Reid had an unofficial school record four steals against Providence (3/7). Her twin sister Elia tied Jamia's output with four steals of her own against Hawaii (3/12). Valerie Arioto challenged the record, trying for her fourth steal of the game against Davis, but was thrown out at second. It was the first time this season Arioto was caught stealing and ended a streak of 15-straight stolen bases for Arioto. The Bears have six players who are still perfect on the base paths this season, including freshman Frani Echavarria who is a perfect 6-for-6 to start her college career.
Pitching Power The Bears pitching tandem of Valerie Arioto and Marissa Drewrey combined to strike out 11 Saint Mary's batters in the game. It was the 10th time this season the Bears' pitchers struck out double-digit batters. Drewrey and Arioto also had a combined one-hitter, the fourth of the year for the staff. Drewrey threw the fifth one-hitter of the year a week and a half later, downing Oregon 1-0. The Bears other three one-hitters came in back-to-back-to-back games between Feb. 15 and 20. Santa Clara, who like Saint Mary's plays in the PCSC conference, was also one-hit in their game against the Bears. The Bears are third in the Pac-10 or strikeouts with 374. The Bears' pitchers have doled out 115 more strikeouts than their opposition with Bears' batters logging K's 259 times.
Glove Work Valerie Arioto leads the Pac-10 in fielding percentage. With 147 put-outs and 57 assists between the circle and first base, Arioto has zero errors this season for a perfect 1.000.
The Battle for the Batting Titles Valerie Arioto continues to lead the team in batting, raising her average to a season-best .352 this season. The Bears have two players batting above .300 this season Jamia Reid is right behind Arioto with a .333 average. Shannon Thomas has dipped to just below .300 with a .292.
Arioto's discerning eye at the plate has helped her work a team-leading 35 walks this season. She is ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in on base percentage with a .481. Arioto led the team last season drawing 48 free passes and posted a .444 OBP.
Arioto also currently leads the home run race with 10 this season. Sanoe Kekahuna is second with 9. Arioto, who also has five doubles and a triple, is slugging .607. The RBI race is also presently being led by Arioto (34), with Gina Leomiti right on her heels (33). Kekahuna has driven in 28 runs
20-Game Winner Marissa Drewrey won her 20th game of the season with her four-innings of relief against UC Davis. Drewrey now has back-to-back 20 win seasons and a career mark of 60-27. Drewrey struck out her 200th batter of the season April 26th against Oregon, giving her back-to-back seasons with over 200 K's. She has 594 career strikeouts. This season, her 211 rank her fourth in the Pac-10.
Hitting Streaks Sanoe Kekahuna owned Cal's longest hitting streak of the season at nine games (3/12-25). Valerie Arioto challenged with an eight-game streak (4/10-25). Arioto has the longest active streak at three games (4/29-present), but has reached base safely in 12 straight games.
Pac-10 Player of the Week Taylor Kelly was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week ending 4/12. Kelly earned the honor for the first time in her career by belting the game (and series)-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning in the third game of the Stanford series. Kelly, who entered the season with two career home runs, equalled that mark in the Stanford series alone.
National Rankings California is ranked fourth in the country in stolen bases per game (2.74) and 22nd in home runs per game (1.0). Jamia Reid has moved up to fifth in stolen bases per game (0.84), with Shannon Thomas ranked 20th (0.61) and Elia Reid 24th (0.59). Valerie Arioto is 25th in walks, drawing 0.7 per game. Marissa Drewrey's eight shut otus ranks her 29th among all DI pitchers.
Pac-10 Standings Cal enters the week in fifth place in the Pac-10 standings. The Bears 9-8 mark puts them behind Arizona's 11-6 but ahead of Arizona State's 8-10 record. The Arizona schools close out their season on the Oregon/Oregon State road trip.
Winning Tradition Cal will finish the season with their 36th consecutive winning record. The Bears have not had a losing record in softball since 1973. They come into the weekend with an all-time program record of 1352-669-3.
NCAA Regionals The Bears are looking to make their 24th consecutive post-season appearance by garnering an at-large berth in the NCAA Regionals. The announcement of the complete field of 64 teams and their Regional match-ups will be announced on Sunday, May 10 at 7 p.m. on ESPN-U. There are 16 regional sites that will be announced, with four teams playing at each regional May 15-17. One winner from each regional will advance to one of eight Super Regionals for games that will take place on May 22-23. The winners of the three-game Super Regional series, eight of them, advance to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. May 28-June 3.
The Bears advanced last season to the Super Regional, but have not made an appearance at the College World Series since 2005. The 2002 National Champions have made 13 appearances at the World Series (3 AIAW and 10 NCAA).