No. 16/13 Cal Takes on No. 3 Arizona at Levine-Fricke Field

April 29, 2010

Friday, April 30
3 p.m. - No. 16/13 Cal (35-13/5-7) vs. No. 3 Arizona (38-7/8-4)
Levine-Fricke Field - Berkeley, Calif.
Series Record vs. the Wildcats: 67-21, Arizona
Last Meeting: L, 7-5 (4/19/09)

Saturday, April 17
1 p.m. - No. 16/13 Cal (35-13/5-7) vs. No. 3 Arizona (38-7/8-4)
Levine-Fricke Field - Berkeley, Calif.
Promotion: Run the bases after the game!

Sunday, April 18
Noon - No. 16/13 Cal (35-13/5-7) vs. No. 3 Arizona (38-7/8-4)
Levine-Fricke Field - Berkeley, Calif.
Promotion: Post-game autographs with the Bears!

BERKELEY - After posting an 8-0 six-inning shutout over Santa Clara on Wednesday, the No. 16/13 California softball team hosts No. 3 Arizona for a three-game conference slate. With that win, the Golden Bears (35-13/5-7 in the Pac-10 Conference) extended their winning streak over the Broncos to 73. The series with the Wildcats is slightly more tumultuous for the Bears for Arizona holds a commanding a 67-21 program lead. Cal plays Arizona on Friday, April 30 at 3 p.m., Saturday, May 1 at 1 p.m. and closes the weekend Sunday, May 2 at noon. The last game between the two schools resulted in a 7-5 Wildcat win on April 19, 2009. Zona also holds a 5-3 record over the Bears in postseason play, though Cal defeated the `Cats in 2002 for the Women's College World Series title.

Quick Hits
-The Bears are 5-7 in the Pac-10, notching their first conference series sweep (versus ASU) for the first time since 2006.
-Cal run-ruled the No. 1 team in the country in UW last weekend, but lost the series opener and closer.
-Head coach Diane Ninemire won her 1,000th game on April 7 and is now 1,005-490 in her 23rd season at Cal.
-Last weekend, Jace Williams paced the Bears by hitting .400.
-Valerie Arioto had two home runs against Santa Clara to move her into third place on career homers with 145.
-Henderson has a team-low 1.26 ERA while Arioto is right behind her at 1.27.

Earlier This Week on the Diamond
Behind a two home run plate performance and three innings of work in the circle from junior Valerie Arioto, Cal routed Santa Clara, 8-0, on Wednesday afternoon in a six-inning affair at Levine-Fricke Field. The Golden Bears also got a homer from freshman catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt and three innings from freshman Jolene Henderson to power past the Broncos (9-26) on a rain-soaked afternoon. Cal built a 4-0 lead in the first and extended it to 7-0 with two runs in the second and one in the fourth before a rain delay. Arioto homered in the first and the sixth to help lead her Bears to victory, the 73-0 all-time against SCU.

Last Season's Series Versus Arizona
The two teams only played two games in 2009, with the Wildcats taking both decisions. On April 18, the Bears lost, 11-2, with Valerie Arioto driving in both runs for the Bears. In that game, Cal fell into a deep hole early when the Wildcats scored eight runs in the bottom of the first off starting pitcher Marissa Drewrey. The Wildcats hit a pair of grand slams in the inning to take an 8-0 lead. They added two more runs in the third and one in the fourth off sophomore reliever Valerie Arioto to take an 11-0 lead. The Bears scored both of their runs in the top of the fifth and final inning. On April 19, in the series closer, Cal fell, 7-5, to the then-No. 9 Arizona in Tucson. Junior Taylor Kelly hit a grand slam for the Bears to help the squad score five runs in the top of the fourth. The then-conference leading Wildcats got one run back in the bottom of the inning, but it was a two-run home run in the fifth that put them back in the lead, 6-5. The Wildcats capitalized on a Cal error in the sixth to score an unearned run, giving them a 7-5 cushion and conference victory

Last Weekend on the Diamond
The top-ranked team in the nation and defending national champion Washington emerged the victor in last weekend's Pac-10 Conference stand at Levine-Ficke Field. The No. 1 Huskies (37-5 overall/9-3 in the Pac-10 Conference) powered past the Bears behind a perfect game from All-American hurler Danielle Lawrie, who issued 14 strikeouts in under 100 pitches. The weekend was nowhere near a complete loss for the Bears had exploded for eight runs in the second inning to notch one of the biggest upsets in program history with the 9-1 five-inning win over No. 1 Washington on April 24. The Bears earned their first upset of a top-ranked team since 2003 with Saturday's run-rule victory over UW to even the series with one win apiece. On Friday, Cal went toe-to-toe with the best team in the country, but lost the final decision, 1-0, in 1-0 innings at Levine-Fricke Field. A fielding error by the Bears allowed the Huskies to score the game-winning run in the top of the 10th to take the Pac-10 series opener.

In-Game Updates
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Cal-Saint Mary's Tilt Postponed to May 5
Inclement weather cancelled last Wednesday's mid-week match-up between Cal and Saint Mary's. The game, which was originally slated for Wednesday, April 21 at 3 p.m., has been rescheduled for Wednesday, May 5 at 3 p.m. in Moraga, Calif. The Bears hold the perfect 45-0 all-time series record, which was extended thanks to their 6-2 win over the Gaels on March 27 at the Aggie Stampede.

Next Week on the Diamond
The Bears take to the road with a three-game Pac-10 Conference stand at No. 6/5 UCLA. The Bears and Bruins will battle on Friday, May 7 at 7 p.m. with the tilt on Saturday, May 8 scheduled to being at 6 p.m. The two schools will close out the weekend on Sunday with a noon first pitch. The Southern California branch of the University of California holds a 76-21 all-time program record against Cal. The Bruins won the last meeting between the two squads, 2-1, on March 7, 2009.

Valerie Arioto: Moving On Up
Thanks to her performances last weekend versus the Huskies and with two homers against the Broncos, junior utility Valerie Arioto grew in stature in the Cal record books. After moving into a tie for fourth with Vicky Galindo with 141, Arioto moved up again. With four runs scored against Santa Clara, Arioto is now alone in fourth place with 145 career runs. Third place is occupied by Gillian Boxx, who score 156 times from 1992-95. Arioto's two homers in Wednesday's game moved her from fourth place to a tie with Melanie McCart in third with 28 career roundtrippers. Arioto leads the Bears this season with 49 runs and 16 homers.

The Road to 1,000: The 2002 National Championship
One of the most important aspects of California softball head coach Diane Ninemire's preparations for the 2002 Women's College World Series did not involve softball. It was not a rigorous defensive drill, batting practice or even throwing. It was a team trip to the WCWS logo in center field. It was there that Ninemire, who had just guided the Golden Bears to their fourth straight trip to the hallowed grounds of Oklahoma City, read to the Bears. She did not draw upon famous quotes or a story of Cal yore. Instead, in her hands, she had a story published in the local Oklahoma newspaper.

Veteran Arizona head coach Mike Candrea gave an interview to the paper in which he stated that no one could overlook the Bears. He noted that the 2002 squad was a scrappy group with good power and could overtake anyone. It was that quote and article that

Ninemire distinctly remembers reading to her team prior to the opening day of the WCWS.

'I really challenged the team when we got to the World Series that week,' Ninemire said. 'I lined them up on the logo and read them that. I told them that their dream of winning the national title could come true, but that we all had to believe that we were the best team that week.'

To read the full original feature, please click here.

Jolene for the Save
With her work against Santa Clara, freshman right hander Jolene Henderson earned her third save. This moved her into a five-way tie for third place in single-season saves. The Elk Grove, Calif., native needs two saves to mount her tally to five to tie for fourth on the career saves list.

Shannon's Stealing Her Way Into the Records
With one stolen base against ASU, Shannon Thomas is now in fifth place on the single-season stolen-base list with 27 steals thus far in 2010. That steal also pushed her into a tie for sixth place on the all-time steals list with Pam Reinoehl (1980-83), with both Bears owning 60 steals. Thomas will no doubt soon own fourth place this season, as it is currently occupied by Vicky Galindo, who stole 61 bags from 2003-05.

Ninemire Watch 2010: 1,000 Wins
Thanks to Cal's 6-0 win over Sacramento State on April 7, Cal head coach Diane Ninemire achieved an impressive career milestone with her 1,000th career win. Ninemire is the ninth coach in the history of Division I softball to notch 1,000 wins. Already the winningest coach - male or female - in all of Cal history for any sport, Ninemire now has a career record of 1,000-488 and is in her 23rd year as the Bears' head coach. Ninemire has overseen countless players, including 25 All-America selections, 146 All-Pac-10 players, 44 academic All-Americans and 86 All-Region choices. Ninemire won her first game at the helm of the Bears on Feb. 15, 1988, with a 2-0 decision over Pacific in only her second game as a head coach. All of her head coaching experience has been at Cal, where she has registered 22 winning seasons and 22 consecutive trips to the postseason. Ninemire also led Cal to a Women's College World Series title in 2002, which was the first NCAA championship for any women's team in Cal history.

To learn more about Ninemire's tenure at Cal, please consult .

Conservative Bears
For the second weekend in a row, and in a remarkable change in Cal's characteristics, the Bears did not attempt their usually high number of steals last weekend. Versus Washington, Cal was only a collective 1-1 in stolen bases. For a team that leads the conference in steals (111 in 126 attempts), this was a noticeable shift.

Arioto Named to Top-25 Watch List
Valerie Arioto made the cut for the top-25 finalists for the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA)'s watch list for the ninth annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. This award, which is considered the most prestigious honors in Division I women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. The winner will be chosen from the list of 25 finalists and will be announced at the opening of the NCAA 2010 Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. Of the 25 players on the list, eight of them play in the Pac-10. Arioto was named to the Top-50 Watch List both this and last season.

Drewrey Striking Out the Record Holders
Thanks to her 20 strikeouts halfway through the 2010 season, senior Marissa Drewrey has moved into the top-five of all-time strikeout leaders at Cal. With 644 career strikeouts to her credit, she displaced Whitney Floyd, who had 628. Coming into this year with 624 Ks, Drewrey earned her 629th strikeout in her first appearance of the season on February 13, 2010 against Michigan State to pass Floyd's 628.

Ever-Enhancing Echavarria
Sophomore outfielder Frani Echavarria has improved by leaps and bounds from her freshman campaign. Last season, Echavarria finished the year with a .193 batting average after starting 49 of Cal's 58 games. This year, the Riverside, Calif., native is batting .338, good for third on the team. She's also slugging .437, placing her fourth amongst the Bears, and has 18 RBI to her credit.

Jamia Reid: All-Time Steals Leader
Only part way through her sophomore season, Jamia Reid became the new California career leader in steals when she stole her 75th base on March 13 at home versus Fullerton, breaking a record that stood for 17 years. Tallying 47 steals in her freshman campaign (2009) and 41 as of April 28, 2010, for her current career total of 88, Reid well surpasses Keri Kropke (1990-93), who had 74. With those 41 bags, she is also six steals short of passing herself on the single-season steal list, on which she commands first place with the 47 bases she stole last year.

The Paparazzi
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Top of the Rankings to Ya!
In the preseason rankings, the Bears fared quite well. Cal was ranked 11th in the country, according to the Softball preseason poll after finishing in the 12 spot in the final 2009 ranking. During the 2010 regular season, the Bears will face off against nine of the other 24 teams in that poll, including defending national champion Washington. The Bears were ranked No. 12 in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Poll.

Remembering Last Season
Last year, Cal qualified for the postseason for the 24th consecutive year, the second-longest streak in the nation and the longest in the Pac-10. The Bears won their NCAA Regional at Florida State before falling at top-seeded Florida in the Super Regionals. Over the course of the year, the Bears broke team records for stolen bases (146) and home runs (55).

Bears on the National Scene
Vicky Galindo, a three-year letterwinner for the California softball team, accepted a spot on the U.S. national team and current junior standout Valerie Arioto was named an alternate, the ASA announced recently. Arioto and Galindo attended the 2010 softball women's national team selection camp, which was held in Chula Vista, Calif., from Jan. 4-8. Galindo was one of 17 athletes who was offered a USA Softball Athlete Agreement for the 2010 season. The squad will be competing in the ISF Women's World Championships, held June 23-July 2 in Caracas, Venezuela, as well as other events to be scheduled at a later date.

Hall of Fame Status
California head coach Diane Ninemire was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's 2009 Hall of Fame class in December. Ninemire, who joined Frank Cheek of Humboldt State University and Bill Edwards of Hofstra University, was inducted in front of the NFCA, former Golden Bears, her colleagues and family members at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. During Ninemire's tenure at Cal, 35 All-America, 86 all-region and 146 all-conference certificates have been issued to the Bears. Since her first year in the dugout in 1988, Ninemire has continually taken the Bears to new heights as one of the winningest and most successful softball programs in the nation. From 1999-2005, Cal made seven straight trips to the College World Series, and Ninemire has one national championship, nine Women's College World Series trips, and 21 straight NCAA Regional appearances to her credit.