At long last, the four-month marathon that is the regular season has finally come to a close. After stealing a game from the clutches of No. 22 Arizona State last weekend for its first win of the season against a ranked opponent, the Cal softball team (30-22, 6-17) ended their 2017 campaign on a high note, taking two of three from Oregon State (28-25, 9-15 Pac-12).
The Bears have relied on their pitching staff to post bagels innings after inning rather than depending on their offense to post double-digit runs. The Bears went to that well in their two wins over the Beavers and senior Stephanie Trzcinski played the role of ace in the circle.
Trzcinski was the almighty neutralizer against Oregon State’s offense, holding the Beavers scoreless over 9.2 combined innings of work with seven strikeouts sprinkled in during Thursday and Friday’s ballgames.
The senior’s first appearance of the series came in the form of a relief appearance in the first game of the series. Trzcinski inherited a one-out, one-on scenario in the top of the fifth after redshirt sophomore Zoe Conley lost an 0-2 count and threw four straight balls to walk the second batter of the inning. Trzcinski worked herself into 3-2 counts against the next two batters she faced but induced a pop out and a strikeout to end the inning.
The Beavers put runners on first and second with one out in the sixth courtesy of back-to-back singles, and Trzcinski once again escaped the inning with a strikeout and a pop out, albeit in reverse order this time around.
Oregon State put a runner on first with two outs in the final frame by way of a single, but the threat was short-lived, as Trzcinski shut the door on the Beavers to record the win and the 2.2 inning save, her second save of the season. Coincidentally, Trzcinski’s first save of the season against Louisville on February 25 was also of the 2.2 inning variety.
Less than 24 hours later, Trzcinski was once again in the circle for the Bears, this time playing the role of starter. The senior was every bit as dominant, tossing a complete game shutout on exactly 100 pitches.
Trzcinski could have gotten the job done before cracking the century mark, but the senior had to put in extra work because her defense committed four errors. Sophomore Lindsay Rood was responsible for two and seniors Kylie Reed and Kobie Pettis committed one apiece.
Oregon State’s lone run in Cal’s 5-1 victory came when Rood made her second defensive gaff of the game in the top of the third, allowing the Beavers to score instead of getting her pitcher out of the inning without a scratch.
The Bears couldn’t complete the sweep Saturday, falling to the Beavers 5-3 in their final game of the series and of the regular season. A three-run home run off the bat of Oregon State redshirt senior Natalie Hampton in the top of the third proved to be the difference maker.
Cal ends this season with a .577 winning percentage, an improvement from their .559 percent mark from last year.
Justice delos Santos is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]