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Cal Heads To The Bulldog Classic

Mar 8, 2021
Sabrina Nunez Has Started Four Games In 2021

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BERKELEY - Taking two out of three last weekend, including a pair of victories over UC Santa Barbara, California heads to Santa Clara for a mid-week game before trekking to the Valley for the Bulldog Classic at Fresno State this weekend.  

Cal (6-3) faces the Broncos first on Wednesday, March 10, at 4:00 p.m. The Bears will battle UC Davis and Fresno State in doubleheaders each day at the Bulldog Classic. Cal faces the Aggies on Saturday, March 13, at 12:30 p.m. and the Bulldogs at 3 p.m. On Sunday, March 14, the Bears will play UC Davis at 10 a.m. followed by another matchup with Fresno State at 3:30 p.m. to conclude the final non-conference weekend of the 2021 season.   

The Bears battled throughout last weekend's DeMarini Invitational at Stanford and at home against UC Santa Barbara. Cal overcame two deficits against BYU, tying the game in the seventh inning with a three-run home run by Karlee Sparacino. The next day, a grand slam by Kacey Zobac capped a five-run sixth inning and led the Bears to a 7-5 win over UC Santa Barbara. In the weekend finale against the Gauchos back in Berkeley, Cal squeaked out a 1-0 win in the rematch.

Makena Smith batted .625 last weekend (5-for-8) with four runs scored, four walks and three RBI. Smith also belted her second home run of the season during the Bears' comeback victory over UCSB at Stanford. Her .467 batting average this season ranks fifth in the Pac-12.  

After enjoying a 22-game hitting streak, Smith is currently boasting a team-high six-game hitting streak and Kennedy Thomas is sporting a five-game hitting streak.

Smith is tied for the team lead in home runs with Karlee Sparacino. A week after notching a grand slam at the Stanford Invitational, Sparacino went yard again at the DeMarini Invitational, extending the game to extra innings. The round tripper was her sixth career homer. Cal's second baseman is batting .333 on the year with a .667 slugging percentage. Sparacino has a pair of multi-hit games this season - two against BYU last week and two vs. Saint Mary's, including the game-winning base hit. 

Chloe Romero has been solid in the circle this season, after picking up the win in both victories over California Baptist at the Stanford Invitational, she also recorded a complete-game victory against UCSB last Friday, improving her record to 3-0. All the Gaucho runs were unearned, keeping her ERA down to 0.44, which currently ranks third in the Pac-12.    

After hanging in tough against BYU on Thursday, Haylei Archer entered Saturday's contest against UCSB in relief of starting pitcher Sona Halajian. Archer entered the game in the fifth inning with two Gauchos on base and got out of the jam. She also held on to the win after UCSB loaded the bases in the seventh. Archer is 2-0 on the year with an ERA of 3.63. Her 12 strikeouts on the year are second to Halajian's 14.

Cal kicks off the 2021 Pac-12 schedule next week with a trip to Corvallis to play four at Oregon State from March 19-21. Before heading to Oregon, Cal faces Pacific on Wednesday, March 17, at 2 p.m. in Stockton.  

Cal All-Time Against Santa Clara, UC Davis and Fresno State
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. 

The Bears are 27-7 all-time against UC Davis, although the Aggies won the most-recent meeting, 2-1, on March 27, 2019. The Aggie victory snapped a 26-game winning streak in the all-time series for the Bears. UC Davis was Cal's first opponent at the Division I level, a game the Aggies won, 9-2, in 1972.  

Fresno State leads the all-time series against the Bears, 65-49, and the Bulldogs defeated the Bears in the 2020 Bulldog Classic, 9-3. In that game, Lauren Espalin got the Bears on the board in the top of the fourth with an RBI triple after Kacey Zobac singled to start the inning. Mikayla Coelho followed that up with a single of her own, bringing home Espalin and cutting the Fresno State lead to five at 7-2. In the top of the fifth, after a walk by Kennedy Thomas, Makena Smith ripped a double, and Zobac sent Thomas home with a sacrifice fly that made it 7-3.

Smith named to the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List
Makena Smith was tabbed to the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List. Smith boasts two three-hit games thus far in 2021, including a 3-for-4 day in the home opener on Feb. 21 against Saint Mary's with a home run and an RBI double. Smith batted .625 last weekend (5-for-8) with four runs scored, four walks and three RBI. Smith also belted her second home run of the season during the Bears' comeback victory over UCSB at Stanford. She's the only Bear to start every game this season. She is batting .467 on the year - fifth in the Pac-12 rankings - a team-best .700 slugging percentage and a current six-game hitting streak.    

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.  

The top 25 finalists for the 2021 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced on April 21.      
Comeback Kids
Cal has fought its way back into contests multiple times in 2021. Last weekend, despite eventually falling to BYU, 8-7, in eight innings, Cal erased two BYU leads, tying the game in the seventh with Karlee Sparacino's three-run home run. The next day against UC Santa Barbara, the Bears fell behind early, 3-0, and clawed their way back with Kacey Zobac's grand slam the deciding factor in the 7-5 victory. In Saturday's 1-0 win over UC Santa Barbara, Cal held firm when the Gauchos had runners on base on multiple occasions, including the bases loaded in the seventh inning. Cal's first victory over California Baptist on Feb. 26 was a come-from-behind victory after the Lancers took an early 2-0 lead. In the home opener, a Candace Yingling two-run homer and an RBI single by Sparacino gave the Bears a walk-off win in their first home game since 2019.