Defeating your rival has always been one of the sweetest feelings in all of sports — but defeating them to gain traction heading into the postseason makes it all the sweeter. The Cal softball team experienced this sensation last weekend, demolishing Stanford by securing a three-game series sweep. With the playoffs quickly approaching, the Bears found victories just when they needed them the most.
The first game of the series began with a breakout performance from senior pitcher Nisa Ontiveros, who only allowed one earned run and had 13 strikeouts. She single-handedly led Cal to a 10-1 blowout, never giving Stanford room to breathe. Ontiveros only allowed two hits throughout all seven innings.
The hitting squad for the Bears was also on fire in game one, racking up a team total of 11 hits. Junior Annie Aldrete got things started for Cal in the top of the first, driving a single into left field to give her team a 2-0 lead. The hitting would only get better from there, as the Bears scored another eight runs by the end of the game.
One of the game’s most memorable highlights came in the top of the seventh, when sophomore Taurie Pogue made her only hit of the day count. She smacked the ball out of the park, adding three more runs to her team’s lead. When the dust finally settled, the Bears had secured a 10-1 win
The only real test for the Bears came Saturday in game two, which went all the way down to the wire. Luckily for Cal, however, Ontiveros carried over her strong pitching from game one. She completely shut out Stanford, accumulating 16 strikeouts and only giving up one hit.
“Nisa had a great weekend, she shut things down for us on Friday and came out Saturday even stronger,” said junior Kylie Reed. “She’s really our horse right now, so we’re just kind of sticking to her.”
The only run of the day for Cal was largely due to the phenomenal base running of sophomore Jazmyn Jackson. A pair of ground balls allowed her to advance to third base after starting the first inning with a single. After another pitching error from Stanford’s Haley Snyder, Jackson would score the only run of the game off a wild pitch. This was all Ontiveros needed, shutting out Stanford to give her team the 1-0 victory.
Cal entered Sunday with plenty of confidence, looking to complete the three-game series sweep. And it did just that, defeating the Cardinal in an 11-5 win. This was also the Bears’ fifth straight win, as they swept UC Davis in a doubleheader before facing Stanford.
The Bears won’t have much time to rest before their next game Wednesday, when they go up against the University of Pacific. Cal is entering this matchup as the heavy favorite when considering that the Tigers have lost nine straight games, and 12 of their past 14. Their last win came more than two weeks ago, when they defeated Saint Mary’s 3-2. This is not to say, however, that Pacific will be completely outclassed by the Bears’ talent.
The Tigers are entering this game with three hitters batting above .300. At the top of that list is freshman Rachel Sellers, who is currently hitting .371 with 43 hits. Junior Sara Anderson has also had a great season, batting .356 with a team high 48 hits. But the pitching for the University of Pacific has rarely cut the mustard, with its best pitcher, freshman Marissa Young, tossing a sloppy season ERA of 2.77.
Cal will be looking to win its sixth straight game on Wednesday. And with the playoffs quickly approaching, it’s pivotal that the Bears do just that.
“We’re really sticking together right now, we know we’re fighting for a spot in the playoffs,” Reed said. “Right now, every game matters, so we’re just taking it one game at a time.”
Alex Quintana covers softball. Contact him at [email protected].