Cal softball sweeps Fresno State in blowout, nail-bitter on consecutive days

PC: Daniel Ho danielhophoto.com
PC: Daniel Ho danielhophoto.com

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No statistic can fully explain the way in which a team achieves victory. When observing standings on paper, the only information accessible is the number of wins and losses.

There’s no stat that measures whether a win or loss came by way of a blowout, a close game, or all other outcomes in between. All that exists are two numbers divided into two columns.

The Cal softball team took both games of a two-game series against Fresno State this past weekend, improving its record to 25-13 on the season, but the method of emerging victorious against the Bulldogs in the first game was the complete opposite that of the second.

The Bears made short work of the Bulldogs on Friday in an 8-0 rout that only required five innings. Saturday’s ballgame had an entirely different feel as Cal was down for almost the entirety of the matchup with Fresno State before scoring two in the bottom of the seventh in a walk-off win to sink the Bulldogs. Regardless of the process, the Bears emerged with two more victories in the win column.

Redshirt sophomore Zoe Conley started and went the distance for the Bears in both games, pitching a total of 12 innings and striking out 11 in the process, but the atmosphere in the circle between both games greatly differed.

Cal’s offense didn’t waste time in building a comfortable lead for Conley in game one, jumping out to a 5-0 lead thanks to a two-run first inning and three-run second inning. The Bears chipped in two more runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to put up eight runs on the day and trigger the mercy rule.

After solidifying the win, their fourth mercy rule victory of the season, the Bears had to overcome offensive struggles in their subsequent 2-1 win.

Cal found itself three outs away from splitting the series as they entered the bottom of the seventh down 1-0. With their backs against the wall, the Bears tied and won the game in consecutive at bats.

Junior Jazmyn Jackson displayed her improved plate discipline once again by drawing a bases loaded walk to notch the game up at one apiece, and senior Kylie Reed capped off the rally with a walk-off single, driving in freshman Bradie Fillmore to send her fellow Bears home happy.

Before the Bears handed Fresno State sophomore Kamalani Dung a tough-luck loss, the Bulldog starter had been taking Conley and Cal to task, putting up zeros against a Bear offense that teed off on her teammates the day prior.

The Bulldogs struck first in the top of the second, connecting on three singles against Conley to put themselves up 1-0. That score would stick until the bottom of the seventh as Conley and Dung traded scoreless frames, but the Bears had opportunities early on to strike.

With two outs in the bottom of the third, redshirt sophomore Octavia Bond tried to score from second on a single up the middle from Reed, but sophomore Vanessa Hernandez gunned down Bond at the plate to end the inning.

After six innings of stagnation, senior Khala Taylor walked to begin the Bear rally in the seventh followed by a single from Fillmore. Redshirt senior Vanessa Alvarez loaded the bases with a walk of her own before Jackson drove in Taylor with a bases loaded walk. With the bases loaded, Reed singled to drive home Fillmore and secure the win.

The Bears will need to show a grittiness and a fight similar to those demonstrated in their comeback win as they prepare for a postseason push.

Justice delos Santos covers softball. Contact him at [email protected]