In No. 16 Cal softball’s Pac-12 opening series, the team dropped two of three games on the road at Oregon State this weekend. The Bears flexed their muscles at the plate but struggled to keep pace with the Beavers’ hot offense at times, falling to 24-5 on the season.
“The Pac-12 is going to be a very difficult conference,” said head coach Diane Ninemire. “There’s many of us that are ranked in the top 25 right now, so it’s going to be almost playing perfect ball every time we go out there, and anybody can beat anybody on any given day in the Pac-12 conference.”
Cal met a talented and balanced conference foe in Oregon State. Sophomore Bradie Fillmore led the Bears’ offense at the plate by blasting three home runs for six RBI. Fillmore became the team leader in home runs and second in RBI, with five and 22, respectively.
In the circle, redshirt junior Zoe Conley had a weekend to forget. Conley suffered losses in Friday’s and Sunday’s games, inflating her season ERA to 2.20 with a 10-5 record.
The Bears stumbled in the opening game with a 10-5 loss. Oregon State scored each time they came to bat and never faced a deficit. Conley was not her usual, dominant self on the mound, allowing eight earned runs on 12 hits over five innings.
Cal’s offense kept the team in the game, but it was not enough. Fillmore blasted two monster homers that accounted for three of the team’s five runs. She also tied the game at 1-1 with a solo shot to center field in the second and cut OSU’s lead in half with a two-run homer in the fourth.
Senior Jazmyn Jackson was also productive from the plate with a 4 for 4 outing, including three singles and a double.
Cal battled back in the top of the sixth inning and cut the lead to 7-5, but Beaver freshman Hope Brandner slashed the Bears’ hopes of taking the lead, crushing a three-run bomb in the bottom of the frame.
In game two, Cal responded with a vengeance in a 12-0 rout of OSU. Fillmore kicked off the rally by blasting a three-run bomb in the top of the third inning for her third home run in two games.
The Bears carried the 3-0 lead into the sixth, during which they recorded a season-high nine-run inning to extend their lead. Cal hit well in the inning, but the damage was exacerbated by OSU’s poor defense, which allowed the Bears to pour in extra runs.
Junior Kamalani Dung only notched three strikeouts on the day, but she prevented any Beavers from crossing the plate, extending her perfect record to 14-0.
“There are a number of pitches that she needs to pitch in order to win a game right now, so we’re just trying to refine that as well as we can,” Ninemire said.
Sunday’s rubber match was the most contested game of the weekend. The Bears loaded the bases twice in the first two innings, but they were only able to come away with two runs off the bat of a Jackson single, which put Cal on top 2-1 early on.
Brandner had the Bears’ number yet again Sunday, when she smashed another home run in the fourth inning to tie the game at three.
In the next inning, Conley would record two outs before being subbed out for Dung. The typically sharp Dung, however, had a very uncharacteristic outing, walking four of the five batters she faced and failing to record an out.
Conley would come back into the ballgame, but she couldn’t stop the damage, as OSU capped the inning off with a two-run double to secure the 8-3 victory. The Beavers handed the Bears their second loss of the weekend.
Cal will attempt to rebound in a midweek matchup against Sacramento State on Wednesday.
Max Mennemeier covers softball. Contact him at [email protected]