A brilliant clash of blue and red took place this past week.
The sun was shining, the crowd was cheering and five Cal seniors took their spots for the last time on Levine-Fricke Field.
The stands were full of fans waiting for something spectacular to happen — and the Bears delivered.
The Cal softball team took on Bay Area rival Stanford in a three-game home series. The Bears were looking to end conference play on a high note. The No. 19 Bears (38-16, 10-14 Pac-12) swept the Cardinal (17-37, 2-22 Pac-12) in dramatic fashion, with Cal taking the first two games on walk-offs and the series finale ending with the mercy rule.
“Everything just worked together (this weekend) and the last few games were kind of tough — it was kind of just a struggle to get everything to work together,” said redshirt senior shortstop Britt Vonk. “We know we can do this, but we just had to get in that flow, and we finally got that today.”
The series opener was a pitcher’s duel, as sophomore pitcher Katie Sutherland-Finch took the circle for Cal against Stanford’s sophomore Kylie Sorenson. Despite both pitchers giving up hits throughout the game, the teams remained scoreless through five innings until Cardinal junior Kayla Bonstrom led off the top of the sixth with a solo shot over the right-center field fence. The Bears stranded a runner in the bottom of the sixth and after Sutherland-Finch held Stanford scoreless in the top of the seventh, Cal entered the final frame down 1-0.
Vonk reached first base after hitting into a fielder’s choice, and with two outs, senior left fielder Cheyenne Cordes stepped up to the plate and hit the ball to the right field fence, moving Vonk to third. With runners on first and third, senior Danielle Henderson walked to load the bases for freshman first baseman Kobie Pettis. With the count at 0-1, Pettis hit a bomb that cleared the right field fence for a walk-off grand slam, and the Bears took the first game of the series, 4-1.
The second game started out similarly to the first, with Cal’s other sophomore pitcher Stephanie Trzcinski in the circle, going strong for 6.1 innings. She gave up a run in the sixth after Stanford’s Bonstrom homered for the second time of the series, and the Cardinal took a 1-0 lead.
The Bears responded in the bottom of the sixth when freshman infielder Taurie Pogue stepped into the box with two outs and hit a two-run homer over the left-center field fence.
For Stanford’s final chance of the game, the Cardinal battled back and with two runners on, Bonstrom delivered again with a double to left-center field to score two and give Stanford a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh.
Sophomore Bailey O’Mara pinch-hit to lead off the seventh for the Bears, securing a walk. Freshman center fielder Jazmyn Jackson roped a double up the middle to put runners on second and third with no outs. Vonk then delivered a deep sac fly to center field, and pinch runner Mary Leem, a senior, tagged up to tie the game, 3-3. With a runner on second, Cordes stepped into the box and hit a hard liner that dropped in left field and Jackson scored easily, giving the Cal its second walk-off win of the series, 4-3.
The final game of the series was won in less dramatic, but still entertaining fashion. The Bears took a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first, and never looked back. Cal recorded the sweep with an 11-2 mercy rule win off the backs of their graduating seniors. All five seniors reached the bases for the Bears, with the team recording 11 total hits for the game.
“Coming off of last weekend, it was just getting back to the routine of being aggressive at the plate and hitting early and hitting often and I think we did a great job of that,” Pettis said. “I liked the way we were aggressive at the plate and it definitely showed, and helped us get the wins this weekend.”
Alicia Fong covers softball. Contact her at [email protected]