As the No. 1 Cal Bears softball team took on 6-14 UC Davis at Levine-Fricke Field in Berkeley on Wednesday afternoon, it was less a matter of if the game would get out of hand and more of a question of exactly when.
It didn’t take long.
Breana Kostreba hit a grand slam in the top of the first and the Bears never looked back, cruising to an 11-3 victory over the Aggies in a six-inning blowout.
“It’s a great win because it’s our first home game,” coach Diane Ninemire said. “It’s always exciting. It’s nice to be back in Strawberry Canyon.”
Jolene Henderson was on the mound once again for Cal, rendering the UC Davis offense helpless to her velocity and control in the top of the first.
In the bottom of the same inning, Kostreba knocked in all three base runners with an opposite field line-drive home run, putting the Bears up 4-0 early.
“I kept taking pitches until I got the pitch I wanted,” Kostreba said. “I wanted an outside pitch so I could go with it. I actually didn’t think it was out.”
After Henderson retired the side in the 2nd, a throwing error off of a Jace Williams ground ball allowed two more runs to score, giving Cal a comfortable 6-0 cushion.
After tacking on a couple more runs, including a Danielle Henderson solo shot, the Bears had built a sizable 8-0 lead entering the top of the 5th.
Ninemire pulled Henderson in the 5th and inserted sophomore secondary pitcher Arianna Erceg, despite the fact that Henderson had retired all 12 batters she had faced up until that point.
Erceg struck out the first batter she faced, but allowed the first four hitters to reach base on an error, single, double, and fielder’s choice. After Erceg forced a groundout for the 2nd out of the inning, she allowed a single up the middle to drive in another run, prompting Ninemire to quickly insert Henderson back on the mound. Henderson calmly struck out center fielder Megan Guzman to end the inning, mitigating the damage at 3 runs.
In the bottom of the sixth, catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt and first baseman Alex Robben reached on a single and a fielder’s choice, respectively. Pinch-hitting for freshman Cheyenne Cordes was Victoria Jones, who took a pitch middle-in and pounded it over the left field wall, ending the game on account of the 8-run rule.
Henderson’s final pitching line was 16 consecutive hitters retired, with 7 strikeouts and 56 pitches. Jamia Reid, leading off for the Bears, reached base on all three plate appearances and tacked on an RBI and a run.
The Bears face off in the Bayer CropScience Classic in Fresno this weekend. Wednesday’s game served as a nice warmup for the looming competitive slate of games that include opponents such as San Diego State and Fresno State.
“We’re playing good teams this weekend, so this is a good way for our team to get some good practice before we head down there for the weekend,” Ninemire said. “We need to keep building off of a strong-non conference schedule to prepare for Pac-12 play.”
A previous version of this article misspelled Breana Kostreba’s name.