Ninemire Seeks 1,000 Win in Wednesday Home Game Against Sacramento State

April 5, 2010

Wednesday, April 7
3 p.m. - Sacramento State (10-23) at No. 14 Cal (29-8)
Levine-Fricke Field - Berkeley
Series Record vs. the Hornets: 45-11, Cal
Last Meeting: W, 3-1 (3/36/10)
Admission: Free

BERKELEY - Diane Ninemire, head coach of the No. 14 California softball team, is just one win away from reaching a major milestone - 1,000 wins. After the Golden Bears (29-8 overall, 1-2 in the Pac-10 Conference) earned a 6-0 victory over No. 11/9 Stanford on April 3 to avoid a series sweep by the Cardinal, Ninemire earned her 999th career win as a head coach.

Ninemire has a chance to score No. 1,000 on Wednesday when the Bears host Sacramento State (10-23) in a nonconference match-up. She also has a chance to notch 1,000 in from the comfort of home at Levine-Fricke Field on Wednesday with first pitch slated for 3 p.m. in Berkeley's Strawberry Canyon. The game is free to all.

As of April 5, Ninemire is 999-485 in her 23rd year at the helm of the Bears. Entering the 2010 season, Ninemire was 970-477, which placed her as the 16th all-time most winningest coach by victories in the country. The current wins leader is current Fresno State coach Margie Wright, who had 1,345 Ws to her credit after the close of the 2009 season.

Ironically enough, Wright is directly related to some of Ninemire's key wins and losses for the Bears have an extensive history of postseason play against Wright's Bulldogs. When asked which of the games in her career at the helm of the California softball team stick out most in her mind, head coach Diane Ninemire sits back and rifles through countless innings of Golden Bear softball. With only two wins to go until she reaches the 1000-win platform, Ninemire, who is in her 23rd year at the helm, has to think for a moment before coming to a decision. She has plenty from which to choose - from the 2002 World Series Championship to any of the nine trips to the Women's College World Series that she has guided the Bears to the 998 wins and 483 losses.

'If there's a defining moment for Cal softball, it happened in '96 when we won the Regional at Fresno State,' Ninemire recalls fondly. 'We weren't picked to win the Regional.'

In 1996, Cal was sent to Fresno State for the sixth time in the last 10 years for an NCAA Regional. Since their first trip to Bulldog Territory in 1982 following the inception of the NCAA Tournament for softball and coming into the 1996 season, the Bears had a 2-11 all-time record at Fresno State in postseason play.

To read the rest of this feature on the 1996 Regional at Fresno State, please click here.

Disturbing the Hornets' Nest
The odds for a Wednesday win are in favor of the Bears, who hold a 45-11 all-time advantage over the Hornets with Cal's last win occurring just a few weeks ago. At the Aggie Stampede, Cal eked out a 3-1 win over Sac State on March 26.

In that game, freshman hurler Jolene Henderson pitched the complete seven-inning win with 10 strike outs and allowing just the one earned run and three hits. Offensively for the Bears, senior second baseman Shannon Thomas paved the way with three hits while junior utility Valerie Arioto earned three walks, pushing her then-season total to 36.

The Hornets have been injury-plagued in recent games, and in Saturday's second game against Boise State, Sac State started nine underclassmen, including seven freshmen and three walk-ons. The dare by head coach Kathy Strahan, who is in her 23rd season with Sac State, proved fruitful for they scored seven times off 10 hits, notching at least one hit in every inning, to defeat the Broncos, 7-5.

Noting the Bears
Jamia Reid leads Cal with her .413 batting average, 50 hits - which also place her first in the Pac-10, five triples, 63 total bases and 39 steals.

The Bears are splitting time in the circle primarily between freshman Jolene Henderson and junior Valerie Arioto. Henderson's 1.00 ERA places her fourth in the conference and she has had just 14 earned runs. Arioto, a work horse with 129.0 innings under her belt in 21 appearances, has fanned 189 batters while she limited them to a .148 average.

Cal has four Bears batting over .300 with Shannon Thomas coming in second on the squad at .376. Thomas has also stolen a 23 bases in 28 attempts, placing her second on the team and in the Pac-10. Sophomore outfielder Frani Echavarria is third at .364, tallying a team-second 40 hits and seven doubles.

In her first year in a Cal uniform after transferring from Washington, sophomore infielder Jace Williams has started all 37 games and is fourth amongst her teammates, hitting .348 and is right behind Arioto's team-high .578 slugging percentage with Williams slugging .508. Arioto paces the Bears and Pac-10 with 45 walks.

The Big Game(s)
The Bears opened the conference season in quite a dramatic fashion on April 1. In the first of a three-game stand at Stanford, the two teams battled for 11.5 scoreless innings of play. In the bottom of the 12th with the perennial powerhouses knotted at 0-0, the Cardinal earned only its third hit of the game off the first pitch of the inning with a lead-off single to left field from Teagan Gerhart. The next batter - Sarah Haasman - attempted a sacrifice bunt and reached on an error at third, advancing Gerhart to second. Arioto got the next Stanford batter in Alissa Haber to ground out to second, which allowed Gerhart to move to third and Haasman to second. Arioto then intentionally walked to Ashley Hansen, which loaded the bases. With all runners set to move, Jenna Rich made contact on the first pitch she saw and reached on a fielder's choice, which allowed Gerhart to score, giving Stanford the 1-0 extra-innings win. Arioto pitched all 12 innings for Cal, striking out 10 batters.

Though Stanford took the middle game - a 5-1 seven-inning loss on April 2 - California left its mark on the series in Saturday's final game, wasting no. In the top of the first, Jamia Reid connected on the first pitch of the game and reached on a throwing error by the shortstop. Reid moved to second thanks to a sacrifice bunt by Shannon Thomas, bringing up Arioto. The junior hurler had did not swing at the first three pitches, which were balls, or the next two, which were strikes, before she fouled off two and then sent the eighth pitch of the at bat flying to a two-run homer to left field. The home run, Arioto's ninth of the season, gave the Bears a 2-0 lead that would not change for the next inning and a half.

The top of the Cal line-up jump started the offensive effort in the top of the third when Jamia Reid had a lead-off single to left field. Again, Thomas bunted to move Reid to second, but no repeat homer for Arioto, who flied out to center. The home run queen of the inning would be freshman catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt, who homered to left field, plating herself and Reid to distance Cal, 4-0.

The Bears were not done for they added two more runs to their tally in the top of the fourth. Vernae Sevilla was the first baserunner of the inning when she walked. Taylor Kelly then reached on a fielder's choice, which moved Sevilla to second. With Kelly at first, Sevilla at second with one out, Jamia Reid tripled to left field, scoring Kelly and Sevilla. Kelly was the last runner for either squad to cross the plate, giving Cal its final 6-0 lead.

Reid paced all student-athletes with three hits. Reid, Arioto and Ziegenhirt each earned themselves two RBI. Pitching the seven-inning shutout, Arioto had four strike outs, seven hits and three walks to improve to 15-5 overall. Teagan Gerhart, who pitched the 12-inning game on Thursday, had the loss after she gave up five earned runs.

Later This Week
The Bears continue play - Pac-10 play that is - on Friday in Eugene, Ore., for a three-game series against the Ducks. Cal is 70-34 against Oregon in the two team's history with the last game ending in favor of the Bears, 1-0, on April 26, 2009.