The Cal softball team will head into its most intense series of the regular season with a sweep of Oregon State as fuel. The No. 1 Bears will face No. 2 ASU at home for a three-game series starting Friday.
But for now, the Bears continue to revel in their latest Pac-12 triumph.
Cal’s most recent series wrapped up on Sunday at the OSU Softball Complex in Corvallis, Ore. The three-game series against Oregon State (33-19, 8-12 in the Pac-12) showcased a 9-1 mercy victory on Friday, followed by a 4-2 win on Saturday. Sunday’s bout resulted in a 4-1 victory for the Bears (48-3, 19-2), marking the completion of Cal’s fifth Pac-12 series sweep.
The Bears’ five sweeps, along with two other series victories, will send them into the final series of conference play without having dropped a series to any of their talented Pac-12 opponents.
Sunday’s victory featured a rarity for one of the nation’s most prolific offenses: Cal was outhit 4-3 by the Beavers. Though it was unusual for the Bears, they overcame the uneven stat to come out on top.
Cal’s scoring streak began in the top of the first, as senior Jace Williams hit a sac fly to plate sophomore Ashley Decker. Another sac fly in the top of the third, this time by freshman Cheyenne Cordes, supplemented the Bears’ lead as senior slugger Valerie Arioto came home to bring the score to 2-0.
In the top of the sixth, junior Lindsey Ziegenhirt notched a two-run homer to put the game out of the Beavers’ reach at 4-0. Cal maintained the shutout until the bottom of the seventh, when OSU knocked in its only run of the game. The game ended 4-1, and the Beavers suffered their first home sweep of the conference season.
With three more wins under its belt, the nation’s No. 1 team heads into the final conference series of the season with some momentum. That last series, however, is against the nation’s second best team, Arizona State. The Bears have been the nation’s top squad throughout the Pac-12 season whereas the Sun Devils have steadily climbed in the polls.
Arizona State held the preseason No. 1 rank, but fell to No. 5 after a few early-season losses. Since that point, they have clawed their way back to the No. 2 spot through impressive conference play. The Bears and the Sun Devils have only lost two Pac-12 games apiece this season.
The Pac-12 conclusion promises to be an epic battle between two softball titans. The two teams top both the Pac-12 rankings and the national ones. The Pac-12 features four of the nation’s top 10 teams, and six of the top 15. In such a powerful conference, it says something for the nation’s top two squads to hail from the dominant Pac-12.
Both teams are gearing up for what will be one of the most competitive series the nation will see this season.
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