It took just five innings for the Cal softball team (29-18-1) to roll over the University of Pacific (19-26) in its last non-conference game of the season. With a flourish of scoring over the course of three innings, the Bears were able to earn a staggering 9-1 win against the Tigers.
Cal went down early in the second inning when the Tigers’ Rachel Sellers hit a solo home run — an unsurprising offensive move given that Sellers leads her team with a .370 batting average.
From then on, though, the Bears were the picture of offensive and defensive efficiency. In the third inning, Cal tallied two runs thanks to a big hit from Annie Aldrete, giving the team the lead that it would sustain throughout the course of the game.
The fourth inning brought more scoring from the Bears with two RBI singles, this time from Jazmyn Jackson and Kylie Reed. Cal’s offense, which was already on fire, took off in the fifth with an RBI single from Taurie Pogue, a two-run single from Jackson, another launched ball from Aldrete and a hit-by-pitch walk that brought in a run — bringing the score to a rousing 9-1 at the end of the fifth.
While Cal’s offense was helping it pull away, its defense was keeping the Tigers’ offense at bay. Pacific was able to earn just seven hits throughout the course of the five innings — half of that which the Bears were able to accumulate. This was in part thanks to pitching from Nisa Ontiveros and Katie Sutherland-Finch who severely limited the Tigers’ hitting.
The win is not just big for the team, but it’s also big for head coach Diane Ninemire as it marks her 1,246th victory — making her the sixth most winningest coach in the NCAA.
The Bears hope to add to Ninemire’s tally this upcoming weekend as they face up against No. 3 Oregon (40-6) in a three-game series at home. The wins are a vital necessity for Cal as it edges closer and closer to playoffs.
The Ducks are on a 13-game win streak, having recently beaten teams that the Bears had trouble against earlier in the season — including No. 17 Arizona and Arizona State. Of their six losses, only two have been against fellow Pac-12 competitors.
Oregon’s offense is lead by Koral Costa and Nikki Udria who boast .450 and .421 batting averages, respectively. The two also lead their team in RBI — Costa has accumulated 43 while Udria tallies 46. The Ducks find much of their scoring coming from homeruns, of which they’ve had 79 so far this season as compared to their opponent’s 25.
Oregon is similarly powerful in the circle. Three of their pitchers boast ERAs of 2.31 or under and one — Cheridan Hawkins — has compiled a whopping 196 strikeouts this season, accounting for nearly 60 percent of her team’s total.
Although the Ducks appear to be a daunting opponent, the Bears are on a bit of a streak of their own — winning nine of their last 10 games. Cal’s hitters have at last found their groove with Aldrete, Pogue, Pettis and Lindsay Rood all compiling more than 20 RBI each.
And while the Bears’ pitching has floundered in the past, veteran Ontiveros has seemingly pulled her team out of their funk, boasting a 14-5 record for Cal when she’s in the circle.
Similarly, two Cal players — Ontiveros and Rood — were recently recognized for their outstanding play. Ontiveros received the ESPNW player of the week while Rood was named the Pac-12 freshman of the week, proving that the Bears have the talent and power to beat tough opponents like Oregon.
Sophie Goethals covers softball. Contact her at [email protected]