Cal takes on Aggies in first home game of season

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The Bears just keep on rolling.

This past weekend, the No. 1 Cal softball team competed in its fourth tournament in as many weekends, at the DeMarini Invitational in Fullerton, Calif.

The result of the weekend’s slate of games was, predictably, another sweep. The Cal Bears thoroughly demolished their competition, outscoring their four opponents by a combined score of 32-5.

The dynamic pitching duo of Valerie Arioto and Jolene Henderson combined to win two games each, with Henderson tossing 11 innings and only allowing one run.

In other words, UC Davis might not want to get its hopes up for Wednesday’s 3 p.m. game at Levine-Fricke field.

The Aggies, who have compiled a 6-14 record in 2012, appear to be heavily outmatched for the contest, having lost six of their past seven games. During that span, UC Davis has scored more than two runs only twice, a figure Cal has eclipsed in all but two of its games this season.

A bright spot on the Davis squad is freshman pitcher Justine Vela. Although only compiling a 4-7 record, Vela has held opponents to a .234 batting average against, with four complete games and an almost 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. One of those complete games was against the University of Maine this past weekend, as Vela shut out the Black Bears with 13 strikeouts, by far her strongest performance of the year thus far.

But the UC Davis squad will likely not provide much of a contest for a Bears team that is ranked above all other teams in the land. Cal is hitting .370 as a team, with more walks than strikeouts. That level of offensive dominance, combined with the ferocious pitching duo of Henderson and Arioto, will give Cal a fairly easy contest against a lowly mid-major team.

Although the Bears do not face much of a challenge for Wednesday’s matchup, practice habits remain relatively static.

“It’s not hard at all to motivate ourselves because we’re out here having fun,” Henderson said. “Every weekend, even though we’re winning, we know what we’re doing wrong. When we play our next opponent, we identify those mistakes and make sure we don’t make them again.”

As the season creeps closer to the all-important Pac-12 play, the Bears look to focus and hone their play to championship levels of competition. Although Cal continues to win its games by resounding margins, the team realizes there is always an area where improvements can be made.

“We just need to keep building on the previous week’s performance,” Henderson said. “And that’s what our team is doing. We come out strong, but if you look at the scores of our games, we’re becoming even stronger. Everybody is producing and that’s important.”

Wednesday’s game will also mark the first time the Bears will face off at home.

“We haven’t played at home for so long now,” Henderson said. “It will be nice to come up here and have our own field, and show the fans what we have been working on.”

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