Oregon overcame an ominous series opener and retorted with a win of its own.
The Ducks blanked the Bears, 1-0, to serve the No. 1 Cal softball team only its third loss of the season at Howe Field in Eugene, Ore. The Bears (41-3, 12-2 in Pac-12) dropped their first conference win in last weekend’s series against then No. 13 Arizona. The series against Oregon (31-11, 9-6) marks the beginning of the second half of conference play, meaning that the Bears only suffered one loss through the entire first half of conference competition in the nation’s most competitive conference for softball.
Cal grabbed the series opener with a decisive 8-1 win over the Ducks but fell Saturday evening after Kailee Cuico sent a single to right field with a runner on third. This run gave the Ducks a 1-0 advantage, and the Bears were unable to overcome the deficit. The game remained scoreless until Cuico’s RBI in the sixth, which would be the only RBI of the game as well as the one that would give Oregon the victory.
Cal ace Valerie Arioto suffered her second loss of the season. She allowed one earned run, two walks and five hits, while striking out two in the game. On the other side of the mound, Ducks pitcher Jessica Moore also allowed five hits, but struck out five and walked two.
The Bears maintained their No. 1 rank in both national polls despite last week’s loss against Arizona. The squad has now dropped two games within a one week span but may again maintain the top spot. The next team in the rankings is No. 2 Alabama, but the Crimson Tide also lost two games in the past week, giving them four losses on the season.
Cal’s chances of keeping the No. 1 spot are more secure if the Bears can hold off the Ducks in the series tiebreaker, which will take place Sunday at noon.