Bears show mercy in weekend sweep

The Bears have opponents begging for mercy.

In the No. 1 Cal softball team’s run at the Bayer CropScience Classic, the team forced three mercy rulings. Every game must reach five innings, but if one team gains an eight-run lead at any point thereafter, the game is called. Of their 21 games thus far, Cal has forced mercy calls in nine.

To open their Fresno, Calif. campaign, the Bears shut out San Diego State, 12-0, in five innings on Saturday. They continued their ruthless scoring in a 14-1 routing of Butler, again foregoing the unnecessary final two innings. The short games continued on Sunday, as Purdue fell to Cal, 9-1, in six innings.

While the Bears finished early in their first three games, they played out all seven against Fresno State in their closest matchup of the weekend. The Bears, however, paced the home team 8-1 through the seventh before allowing four more runs to bring the final score to 8-5.

Sluggers like Arioto and freshmen Danielle Henderson and Breana Kostreba have drawn attention for sending pitches soaring over the outfield fences, but the more subtle facet of Cal’s dominant offense was on display this weekend.

“We have a very strong offensive lineup,” said sophomore Victoria Jones.” Everyone can hit home runs. And our defense is solid. Mixed, this causes high scores and few runs against us. So the combination of both is what has been helping our success.”

Against San Diego State, 10 different Bears notched RBIs. Jace Williams and Jolene Henderson led the offensive onslaught with two RBIs and three hits, respectively. In the following game against Butler, Williams’ two hits resulted in two more RBIs. Jolene Henderson also racked up two RBIs.

“That says we have a lot of depth,” Jones said. “Notice that it was ten with RBIs in that game, but there are nine in the lineup. Everyone who came in got the job done as well. We all just hit and hit and hit and anyone who came in stepped up.”

The Purdue game did not feature Cal’s usual big hitters, either. Jones started things off for the Bears by plating two runners off her double in the bottom of the second. After Purdue scored in the top of the fourth, Britt Vonk responded by scoring Frani Echavarria and Danielle Henderson to bring the score to 5-1.

While their first three opponents were easily conquered, the highlight of Cal’s weekend was the rivalry matchup against Fresno State. The Bulldogs were the only team to avoid a mercy ruling, which they achieved by holding Cal to a four-run lead through the fifth. After scoring three more in the sixth, the Bears gave up four runs in the seventh to finish at 8-5.

“I definitely felt excited going into that game knowing the crowd was against us, and sometimes the umpires are gung-ho for Fresno State, but we went out and played our game and came out on top,” Jones said. “The stadium was definitely against us, but that didn’t really bother anybody.”