Nestled right in between two early-season tournaments is a rematch that seems to be more disruptive than constructive.
The Cal softball team is fresh off a sweep of the Cathedral City Classic last weekend and will begin the DeMarini Invitational on Friday. Between the two tournaments, the Bears will face Pacific on Wednesday in their first home game of the season. The team faced Pacific in an unofficial offseason matchup in October; in their last official meeting, the Bears suffered a 12-3 upset loss. Cal (12-0) hopes to make up for that blemish in the rematch at Levine-Fricke Field at 2 p.m.
“We expect to keep working hard,” said freshman third baseman Danielle Henderson. “They are a pretty good team, and we expect to do even better on Wednesday.”
The 6-6 Tigers will face No 1. team in the nation, and the middle-of-the-week matchup may pose new challenges for Cal. Pacific is not anticipated to be any more competitive than teams that the Bears have already faced this season. However, the game does not give the Bears many days off and it will disrupt the practice schedule that the team has grown accustomed to over the past few weeks.
“It’s going to be weird, but it’s not going to change how we play,” Henderson said. “We are still going to play Cal style.”
So far that style has followed the vein of consistent defense, dominant pitching and powerful hitting. Seven of Cal’s starters boast batting averages above .300, and Valerie Arioto paces the squad at .520. The pitchers are holding strong with a team era of 1.08.
The Tigers also played in the Cathedral City Classic last weekend. They emerged 4-1 from the tournament with notable victories over No. 14 Texas A&M and No. 21 Oklahoma State. This momentum may present an unexpected challenge, but with a blistering start to the season the Bears are up for the feat.
Despite the challenges this oddly-placed game may pose, it also offers the Bears the opportunity to display their depth. Henderson expects her coaches to consider utilizing players in different ways and experimenting with the lineup.
“You never know what is going to happen in a game,” Henderson said. “Girls will come in off the bench, anywhere off the lineup, and amaze you.”