Bears finish off tourney with pounding of LSU

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Another weekend, another sweep.

The No. 1 Cal softball team continued its pillaging of any and all comers Sunday in Henderson, Nev., with a resounding 14-3 victory over No. 24 LSU.

“I thought they were definitely one of the better teams we played this year,” said pitcher Jolene Henderson. “Fortunately, we matched their intensity and produced well to get the victory.”

The occasion for the contest was the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic, which brought together 18 Division I softball teams to face off against one another in a round-robin tournament style.

Sunday’s win came after another 4-0 showing from the Bears, who, thus far, have steamrolled every opponent that has stepped up to the plate. After a 2-0 win on Friday in which National Player of the Week Valerie Arioto launched two more bombs, Cal had a doubleheader against two California universities, surely exhausted from playing five games in seven days. The fatigue did not seem to be much of an issue, with the Bears disposing of San Jose State 7-0 and UC Riverside 10-0.

The Bears tacked on six runs in the top of the first inning Sunday, leaving the outcome of the contest in little doubt. Redshirt senior Jace Williams kicked off the scoring with a two-run double, and freshman infielder Breanna Kostreba immediately followed with a run-scoring single. After Williams scored on a wild pitch, Henderson finished off the inning’s scoring with a two-run home run, officially making the top of the first a crooked inning.

The Tigers tacked on three runs in the top of the third to bring the teams reasonably close to one another, with a couplet of RBI singles and a sacrifice fly bringing LSU within three of the Cal squad.

“We didn’t just sit on a three-run lead, we extended it,” Henderson said. “That’s big for our team this year. Last year we weren’t hitting as much, but now we’re just coming out stronger and stronger every game.”

Kostreba knocked in two more in the fourth, putting the Bears up 8-3. In the top of the fifth, it was “long bombs away.” Williams, Kostreba and senior outfielder Frani Echavarria all blasted home runs, totaling six runs of damage.

Jamia Reid went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, and Williams had two hits and five RBI.

The LSU pitchers predominately pitched around Arioto, walking her three times in her four plate appearances. In the previous three games, Arioto had not recorded an out, going 6-for-6 with three walks.

In total, Cal outscored its opponents this weekend by a final total of 33-3. Henderson and Arioto each tossed shutouts, and Arioto went 6-for-7 with nine RBI.

“Our mentality is not that we’re playing teams; rather, we’re playing ourselves,” Henderson said.

The Bears continue their busy schedule next weekend at the Palm Springs Classic, where they take on Fordham, New Mexico State, Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge.