If the first week is any inclination on how the rest of the season is going to go for the Cal softball team than only one word can come to mind: resilience.
This was especially on display Saturday against Notre Dame, when a large rally in the last inning propelled the Bears to a 8-7 win over the Fighting Irish. It was resilient play like this from the Bears that allowed them to finish the Kajikawa Classic with an opening season record of 3-1.
Cal will be looking to carry over its strong play into Wednesday’s matchup against Saint Mary’s. Unlike the Bears, the beginning of the season for the Gaels (2-3) has been very unimpressive.
But the poor start for Saint Mary’s doesn’t necessarily mean that its team lacks talent — in fact, the opposite is true.
“It’s a midweek game so the mindset has to be to go out there and be an assassin,” said Cal infielder Taurie Pogue. “We need to have better pitch selection, I think we all know that, so hopefully we can just be relaxed and look to attack.”
The most dangerous athlete on Saint Mary’s roster, without a doubt, is senior outfielder Monika Reichhardt. Reichhardt is entering this game against the Bears with a team-high, season batting average of .308 on 4-13 hitting. She also leads her team with a total of four runs and an on-base percentage of .357.
The secret weapon for the Gaels, however, might not even lie with an individual. But could in fact lie with the reality that despite the Gaels poor overall record, they are entering this matchup having blown out the last opponent they faced. On Thursday, Saint Mary’s closed out the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic by slaughtering Kansas City in a 9-0 mercy rule victory.
Saint Mary’s will certainly try to tap into this strong performance when it faces Cal on Wednesday and attempt to have its best performance of the year.
And for the Bears, they need to do whatever it takes to not only prevent the Gaels from accomplishing this goal but going anywhere near it. The way they accomplish this is by establishing both pitching and hitting early on.
Luckily for Cal, it has already proven early in the year that this could be one of the best hitting squads in recent memory. An important part of this team’s hitting has been completely dependant on underclassmen such as Pogue, which is bittersweet for the Bears.
Bitter in that a majority of your team’s hitting is coming from inexperienced players who haven’t been in many pressure situations, such as the playoffs. And sweet in that the youthfulness means that the best is only yet to come.
The Cal softball team is hoping the later is true Wednesday, as it looks to add yet another win on the record.
“As a team we’re not going to settle for anything, but look to push the throttle down,” Pogue said. “We’re just going to look to each other to string hits together and make great plays on defense.”
Alex Quintana covers softball. Contact him at [email protected]