The Cal softball team’s postseason opener against Jacksonville State on Friday could have been another shutout for Bears’ ace Jolene Henderson.
However, the Gamecocks broke it up with three runs in the seventh inning.
In the second game of the Louisville Regional on Saturday, Henderson wouldn’t be denied.
The Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year tossed seven scoreless frames at Ulmer Stadium, allowing only four hits against host Louisville in Cal’s 4-0 victory.
“I threw a lot better today than I did yesterday, but I still have a lot of things I can be doing better,” Henderson said. “Defensively and offensively we controlled the game and that’s what made the difference.”
Her 19th shutout of the year will lower an already outstanding .84 ERA.
“She has been doing this all year,” third baseman Jace Williams said of Henderson’s performance. “She takes a lot of weight on her shoulders and takes a leadership role on our team.”
While Henderson held down Louisville’s (37-19) batters for the entire game on Saturday, her team got things going offensively in an action-filled second inning.
Right fielder Elia Reid opened up the scoring by sending the ball over the left field fence for a two-run home run — her eighth of the year.
Williams then knocked a long fly ball into center field that dropped in the grass on an error, bringing home home shortstop Britt Vonk and left fielder Jamia Reid.
Those four second-inning runs were all that the Bears needed.
“If you look at the stats, we had more hits (on Friday), but Elia had that clutch two-run homer and Jolene did a great job holding their entire offense,” Williams said. “We had a better attitude and were more focused today.”
After clinching their first two postseason games, the Bears are one game away from advancing to the Super Regionals. On Sunday, the Bears play in the Louisville Regional championship game at 11 a.m. (PT) against the winner of tonight’s Louisville-Jacksonville State match-up.
“We don’t know who we are playing yet, so we have to be ready for anyone,” Williams said. “We have to play out game and do what we are capable of doing.”
Kelly Suckow covers softball.