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Cal Heads To The Stanford Invitational This Week

Feb 24, 2021
Sona Halajian Struck Out Five Batters Last Weekend

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BERKELEY - Five days after enjoying a three-run comeback walk-off victory over Saint Mary's in the home opener, the California softball team spends this weekend in the south bay. The Golden Bears (1-1) will face Cal Baptist and Stanford in the Stanford Invitational from Feb. 26.27, and then Cal plays at Santa Clara on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 4 p.m.

Both days at Stanford will feature doubleheaders. On Feb. 26, Cal faces Cal Baptist at 3 p.m. and Stanford at 6 p.m. On Feb. 27, the Bears face Cal Baptist at 11:30 a.m. and the Cardinal at 5:30 p.m. The games against Stanford are non-conference games. 

After suffering a 3-0 loss in the season opener at Sacramento State, the Bears posted 13 hits in a 5-4 win over Saint Mary's in the home opener last Sunday. Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Candace Yingling blasted a two-run home run, the third of her career, to tie the game at four. The four-bagger was Yingling's second hit of the day. Cal later loaded the bases, and Karlee Sparacino ended the game with a shot to left-center to send the Bears home happy.    

The victory marked the first win in the Chelsea Spencer era, and the game marked Cal's first contest at Levine-Fricke Field since May 2019. 

Picking up right where she left off last season, Makena Smith leads her squad in hitting after two games with a .571 batting average that ranks fifth in the Pac-12. Smith, who is currently enjoying a 21-game hitting streak that dates back to last season, went 3-for-4 in Cal's 5-4 win over Saint Mary's last Sunday, including her 10th career home run in the bottom of the first. Smith hit safely in her first at-bat in both games. 

After missing last season due to injury, Sona Halajian spent the majority of last weekend's games in the circle. Halajian pitched nine-and two-thirds innings combined last weekend. She earned the win in relief against the Gaels after starting in her collegiate debut the day before at Sacramento State. She boasts a 2.90 ERA and batters are hitting .211 against her through two games. Contributing at the plate, as well, Halajian singled in both contests, and scored the game-winning run against Saint Mary's. 

Another Bear returning after missing the 2020 campaign, Morgan Zamora is currently batting .500 (3-for-6), including collecting two hits against the Hornets. Zamora is one of four Bears batting .400 or better - Smith (.571), Kacey Zobac (.429) and Halajian (.400). Zobac singled twice against the Gaels, including a single in the bottom of the seventh to keep the rally going after Yingling's game-tying home run.   

Cal returns to Stanford next week for the DeMarini Invitational before heading back to Berkeley for a non-conference matchup against Nevada on Sunday, March 7, at noon from Levine-Fricke Field. The home game will be Cal's final non-conference home game before the Pac-12 home opener against UCLA on Friday, March 26.  

Cal All-Time Against Cal Baptist, Stanford and Santa Clara
Friday's game against Cal Baptist will mark the first-ever meeting between these teams.  

The Bears lead the all-time series against Stanford by a wide margin, 75-31. The last time these teams met was March 24, 2019, an 11-10 victory by the Cardinal. Stanford won both meetings in 2019 after Cal enjoyed a 12-game winning streak that started in 2015.  

Cal has never lost to Santa Clara in school history, owning an all-time record of 86-0. The last time these teams met was May 1, 2019, a 1-0 Cal victory. Cal has recorded eight no-hitters against the Broncos, including a perfect game by Cal Athletic Hall of Famer Leslie Partch in 1982. 

Smith Named To The USA Softball Collegiate Player Of The Year Top 50 Watch List
Makena Smith, who is currently enjoying a 21-game hitting streak, was tabbed to the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List. Last weekend, Smith batted .571 including a 3-for-4 day against Saint Mary's with a home run and an RBI double.

In 2020, Smith paced the Bears in hitting with a .481 batting average that ranked tied for first in the Pac-12 and tied for 21st in the nation.  
 
In the final 2020 Pac-12 ranks, Smith finished tied for second in hits (37), tied for seventh in slugging percentage (.727), eighth in on-base percentage (.512) and tied for eighth in doubles with seven. Smith had also previously garnered 2019 Pac-12 All-Freshman Team honors.

The top 25 finalists for the 2021 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced on April 21.  
    
Schedule Changes
Prior to next Sunday's home game against Nevada, Cal will return to Stanford next week for the DeMarini Invitational from March 4-6. The Bears won't play the Cardinal next week, though. Instead, Cal will play a single game each day, facing BYU on Thursday, March 4, at 3:30 p.m., and UC Santa Barbara on Friday, March 5, at 10:30 a.m. and Saturday, March 6, at 10 a.m.

Thank You To The Riveras
On Oct. 22, former Cal student-athletes Ron and Stephanie Rivera made a $500,000 gift to Cal's softball facility project. To honor the Riveras' gift, the renovated facility is intended to be named the "Rivera Family Cal Softball Field." Ron, current head coach for Washington in the NFL as a star linebacker at Cal from 1980-83, and Stephanie was a member of Cal's women's basketball team from 1983-85.

The Rivera's gift is part of the Cal Athletics' gender equity campaign that is raising funds for new facilities for both softball and beach volleyball.

The Riveras built a relationship with Chelsea Spencer while Spencer was playing professionally with the Rockford Thunder near Chicago. Ron and Stephanie asked Spencer to help run a softball camp that was attended by their daughter, Courtney, who ultimately went on to play at UCLA.  

Home Sweet New Home
Cal will soon have a new stadium to call home under a plan announced in the summer of 2018 as part of the University and athletic department's commitment to support student-athletes in all of their educational activities.

Located on the current site of Levine-Fricke Field, once completed, the stadium will include expanded permanent seating, covered batting cages, locker rooms, a video board, restrooms, field lighting and an elevated press box, among other amenities. The facility will be configured to meet field dimension standards, and Cal will be able to host NCAA Tournament games, something the team is unable to do presently.