The Cal softball team ended the final game of an eight-game homestand on a high note, grinding out a 3-2 victory in its second matchup against East Bay rival St. Mary’s on Wednesday before heading back out on the road.
Redshirt sophomore Zoe Conley held the Gaels scoreless and hitless in an extended relief appearance, striking out five in 4.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Conley inherited a runner on first with one out in the top of the third after senior Katie Sutherland-Finch allowed St. Mary’s to take a 2-1 lead.
The redshirt sophomore shut the door on the Gaels’ minirally and retired eight straight batters before allowing a walk to lead off the sixth inning. Conley was quick to squash the problem and set down the next six batters to secure Cal’s 22nd win of the season.
Cal found the majority of its offensive production from the top three batters in its lineup. Sophomore Lindsay Rood and senior Kylie Reed both recorded multihit games, the former with three and the latter with two.
Junior Jazmyn Jackson pestered St. Mary’s pitching without having to use her bat, drawing three walks in three plate appearances. Reed and Jackson drove in two of the team’s three runs as well, the former driving in the go-ahead run.
This trio of Bears had the opportunity to prove why many consider Cal one of the fastest teams in the Pac-12, swiping a combined four bases — Rood with two and Reed and Jackson with one apiece.
Cal’s two-run fourth inning provided Conley with the one run of support she needed to close out a modest homestand. Senior Khala Taylor provided the Bears with a jolt of energy, tripling to begin the frame, and redshirt sophomore Octavia Bond drove in Taylor on a groundout after freshman Bradie Fillmore failed to cash in on the opportunity. The Bears weren’t satisfied with a tie ballgame and generated two-out thunder with three consecutive singles from redshirt senior Vanessa Alvarez, Rood and Reed to take a 3-2 lead.
With the conclusion of their eight-game homestand, the Bears will fly to Salt Lake City for a three-game weekend series against No. 15 Utah, which has the fifth-best record among the six nationally ranked Pac-12 teams. The Utes enter their matchup against Cal riding a three-game winning streak following a sweep of Stanford last weekend.
This series presents yet another opportunity for Cal to finally take down a legitimate opponent, as the Bears are currently 0-8 against ranked teams, including two sweeps at the hands of then-No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 Arizona. The Utes have the “lowest” ranking of any ranked team the Bears have played this season, but the Bears will have their hands full in attempting to slow down Utah’s offensive core four.
Cal’s main point of emphasis during their series against Utah will be attempting to contain this offense’s quartet, composed of freshman Alyssa Barrera, junior Heather Bowen and seniors Anissa Urtez and Hannah Flippen. These four, who usually hit two through five in the lineup, have a combined batting average of .403, have hit 13 of Utah’s 15 home runs and are responsible for 107 of 166 RBI.
Considering the Bears have yet to take down a ranked opponent this season, taking one from the Utes would constitute a successful weekend trip.
Justice delos Santos covers softball. Contact him at [email protected]