The flurry of hits didn’t start until the seventh inning. Down by seven, it seemed that all was lost — the No. 21 Cal women’s softball team would start the season off with two tough losses to Wisconsin and No. 24 Notre Dame.
But then the tables turned. Annie Aldrete advanced to first base with a walk, which turned into the Bears’ first score of the game as Taylor Koenig fired a single to left field that allowed pinch-runner Octavia Bond to make it home. After that, Cal accrued run after run until it bested the Fighting Irish 8-7 to tally its first win of the season at the Kajikawa Classic.
Before this comeback, though, the Bears started off their season with a painful loss against the unranked Badgers. Although a two-run triple from Krysten McCue in the fourth brought Kobie Pettis and Koenig home and afforded Cal a 2-0 advantage over Wisconsin, the lead did not prove to be enough of a cushion for the Bears. The Badgers scored in the sixth to cut Cal’s lead in half and then, in the seventh, a home run by Wisconsin’s Kelsey Jenkins granted the Badgers three more runs and sealed the game at 4-2. The season opener left the Bears with a 0-1 record.
“A lot of girls stepped up and made the commitment to call each other out and we all just woke up with a new mindset and went to the field with a mission,” said sophomore Taurie Pogue, who led the Bears in hitting for the weekend.
That loss proved to be motivation for Cal, as it clawed its way out of a 7-0 deficit in the seventh inning to best Notre Dame. Shortly after the first run, Cal’s Jazmyn Jackson hit a single to load the bases and freshman Lindsay Rood followed her with a sharp triple that brought three runs in, bringing the score to 7-5.
Cal loaded the bases once again with the score 7-6 when Aldrete took a walk. Kylie Reed made sure not to waste the perfect opportunity as she sliced a ball down the left field line to bring in McCue and Jasmin Mejia to bring the score to 8-7 and give Cal its first win of the season.
“Every single person came off the bench and won that game. It was amazing, whether it was a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter we all realized we are this good and we can win,” Pogue said.
Riding off of their exciting win, the Bears dominated their third game of the tournament, beating CSU Northridge with a decisive score of 6-1. The hot hitting from its previous game seemed to continue into the next one as Cal took a quick 3-1 lead in the first two innings. Jackson got on base with a single, followed by another single from McCue, which led to both runners being driven home by Pettis. When CSUN countered with a run, the Bears responded with an RBI double by Rood that brought in pinch-runner Danielle Bowers.
During the final inning, Cal closed the game out with three runs and a stellar pitching performance by senior Nisa Ontiveros, who had eight strikeouts, earning her first win of the season.
The Bears finished their trip to Tempe with a 7-6 win over Indiana. Pogue helped the Bears go up 4-2 at the end of the second with the team’s first home run of the season, but at the bottom of the fifth, Cal found itself neck and neck with the Hoosiers at six-all. Quick base running from Reed off a hit from Danika Bailey brought the Bears a one-run lead. Junior pitcher Stephanie Trzcinski finished off the game only allowing one base runner over the course of the final two innings. The win over Indiana brings Cal to a strong 3-1 record at the start of its season.
Sophie Goethals covers softball. Contact her at [email protected]