With the regular season all but over for the Cal softball team and six games now remaining, it is fair to say that 2017 has been plagued by predictability and a flat-out inability to beat the cream of the crop of college softball.
The Bears’ latest three-game series put them against No. 8 Washington, one of the six nationally ranked teams in the Pac-12. Cal entered this series with no wins against a nationally ranked opponent, and as the series came to a close, they still find themselves searching for a landmark win.
Washington became the latest Pac-12 team to sweep Cal this weekend, rattling off three consecutive victories by scores of 4-0, 4-2 and 3-2. The Bears now possess a 3-14 record in conference, all three of which came against an unranked Stanford. Cal’s horrendous interconference record stands as the second-worst in the Pac-12.
Washington silenced Cal’s bats in the first game of the series in a 4-0 shutout led by sophomore Taran Alvelo, who held the Bears to four hits and allowed only one runner to reach scoring position. The Huskies established an early lead, plating a runner in the top of the first to immediately place pressure on the Bears’ bats. Redshirt sophomore Zoe Conley kept Cal in the ballgame and matched zeros with Alvelo, but Washington opened up the floodgates with a three-run fifth, effectively putting the Bears away.
Senior Khala Taylor came within 60 feet of scoring in the bottom of the fifth, slapping a single up the middle, advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt from senior Alleah Laxamana, then swiping third. The Bears had their opportunity to put a run on the scoreboard but couldn’t capitalize as freshman Bradie Fillmore lined out to third and junior Taurie Pogue flew out to right which ended the threat.
Saturday and Sunday’s 4-2 and 3-2 losses were strikingly similar in Washington’s favor as the Huskies held the Bears to two runs in both games and rode the wave of a three-run inning to best Cal. The Bears, typically known for their speed and not their power bats, smacked two home runs in these two games, one apiece from sophomore Lindsay Rood, her second of the season, and senior Annie Aldrete. The long ball, however, wasn’t enough to power Cal to victory.
Much to the tune of the first game of the series, the Huskies scored in the top of the first to kick off the second game of the series, putting up a three-spot on the scoreboard to jump out to a commanding lead. Washington’s run total stagnated at three, but they scored just enough in the top of the first to hold off the Bears.
The Huskies’ three-run spurt in the final game of the series came off the bat of Washington senior Casey Stangel who launched a three-run home run in the top of the third. Cal totaled eight hits on Sunday, the most of the series, but couldn’t translate those hits into runs.
With the conclusion of this series against Washington, the Bears will head to Tempe, Arizona, for a three-game series against No. 23 Arizona State for their last road action of the regular season.
Justice delos Santos covers softball. Contact him at [email protected]rg