After some recent struggles against ranked Pac-12 opponents, the No. 20 Cal softball team needed to prove it could compete and even outplay other highly competitive teams. By defeating the No. 18 Huskies, 2-1, in a series over the weekend, Cal softball made a statement: The team can keep up with the best of them.
In the series opener, the Bears were the first to score with a run at the bottom of the first. Freshman Kobie Pettis doubled to the left center gap, allowing senior Danielle Henderson — who got on base with a walk — to score, putting the Bears on the board first. The game continued with that score for an inning before Washington earned its first runs of the game at the top of the third inning, seizing the lead, 2-1.
Cal, however, wouldn’t give up its lead so easily. In the bottom of the third inning, the Bears received some powerful hitting from junior Vanessa Alvarez and senior Cheyenne Cordes. Alvarez started things off with a solo home run — and then, once freshman Jazmyn Jackson got on base with a single to center field, Cordes smashed a two-run homer to give Cal a 4-2 lead. While holding the Huskies scoreless for the next two innings, the Bears added another run to their total in the fifth inning after Alvarez was hit by a pitch then crossed home plate.
Washington was able to cut the lead down by a run in the final inning, but its efforts weren’t enough for a comeback. The final score read, 5-3, with Cal earning the victory.
“I think our team showed a lot of heart this weekend,” said sophomore pitcher Katie Sutherland-Finch. “It was all about fight and really heart, and that’s exactly what we need right now.”
The second game of the series saw the Bears earn their only loss of the weekend after a strong third inning from Washington. Entering the third inning, Cal held the 2-0 lead, with contributions from Jackson and Alvarez. The Huskies stormed back in during the third inning, with five runs off a well-balanced effort offensively.
After capturing the lead, Washington led, 9-5, heading into the final inning. At the bottom of the seventh, senior Breana Kostreba gave the team some energy with a solo home run to cut the lead to three runs, but the Bears failed to stage a comeback, losing the match, 9-6. In three innings of pitching, Sutherland-Finch conceded eight hits and now holds a 15-9 record on the season.
With the series tied, 1-1, Cal came into game three ready to go. Even though the Huskies jumped ahead with an early two-run lead, the Bears swung the momentum by dominating offensively in the second and third innings. Two home runs and solid team play allowed Cal to take a 5-2 lead. Washington tied it up at the top of the fourth inning but was held scoreless for the remainder of the game. The Bears, on the other hand, added to their total with a run in the fourth and three runs in the sixth, giving them a 9-5 victory. The series victory marks Cal’s second series win against a Pac-12 opponent this season.
“We really refocused on executing what we needed to do,” Sutherland-Finch said. “We got some key plays, some key hits this weekend — and overall, the team did a good job.”
Kapil Kashyap covers softball. Contact him at [email protected]