Cal falls to Arkansas but survives in elimination game

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The Cal softball team picked up a win on Saturday. It just wasn’t the win that would have made things a lot easier.

Cal (52-5) couldn’t come back against a feisty Arkansas squad, squandering multiple opportunities in their 3-2 afternoon loss at Levine-Fricke Field. The Bears made it through the night alive, however, as they eliminated an exhausted Boston University squad, 8-0, in six innings.

Cal will hope to play Arkansas twice again on Sunday. If the Bears win tomorrow’s 5 p.m. rematch, the two teams will square off immediately afterwards with a shot at advancing to Super Regionals on the line.

Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Jolene Henderson started both matchups for the Bears, surrendering three runs in the first inning against the Razorbacks (29-26), including a Jennifer Rambo solo home run.

It didn’t appear so at the time, but those three runs were sufficient to give Arkansas a shocking victory over the No. 1 team in the country.

Cal wasted multiple opportunities to score, managing just five hits despite a number of hard-hit balls. Arkansas starter Kimmy Beasley was effectively wild, surrendering just two runs in 4 2/3 innings despite issuing five walks.

Jamia Reid scored Cal’s first run, catching Arkansas dumbfounded with a steal of home in the third inning as Valerie Arioto was intentionally walked. But with runners on second and third, Jace Williams lined out to end the threat.

A spectacular fifth-inning catch by Arkansas right fielder Tori Mort saved her team at least two runs. With Cal down 3-2, and the bases loaded for Breana Kostreba, the right fielder tracked down a high fly to right center, making a running, over-the-shoulder catch just feet from the wall to end the inning.

The Bears wouldn’t score again, leaving runners in scoring position in both of the last two innings.

Cal faced elimination in the Saturday evening game against Boston University (41-16), but the outcome was never really in doubt.

Fresh off a 13-inning win over Iona on the same field, The Terriers looked content with their thrilling victory from earlier in the day. After a scoreless first inning, Cal scored in each of the next six frames, including five in the final two innings.

Henderson struck out the side in the first two innings and surrendered just three hits against an overmatched BU offense.

The junior struck out 18 in 12 2/3 innings in the two games. Henderson’s postseason ERA stands at 1.22.

Cal coach Diane Ninemire said after the game she has yet to determine a starter for tomorrow’s game.

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