Cal softball sweeps Utah, secures first Pac-12 series win

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Timothy Dawson/File

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Cal softball added a bright spot to a sunny weekend in Berkeley with their sweep of Utah.

After dropping out of the top-25 rankings this week, the Bears posted their first Pac-12 series win of the season. With the sweep, Cal now possess a 4-10 conference record, in contrast to its 29-13 overall record.

Although the Bears have struggled mightily in Pac-12 play, they have faced several of the best teams in the nation, making it vital to pick up wins against the Utes — one of the worst teams in the Pac-12, now holding a 2-13 conference record.

Every Cal player on both sides of the ball contributed to the sweep, but redshirt junior Zoe Conley separated herself with three dominant outings in the circle. Conley pitched 11 innings without allowing an earned run, earning a win and two saves to pushed her season record to 12-10 with a 2.27 ERA.

Game one

Cal’s offensive performance was boosted by Utah’s poor defense in this 5-3 victory.

With the score tied at zero heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Bears loaded the bases when the Utes’ senior Miranda Viramontes hit two batters and allowed a single.

Senior Jazmyn Jackson opened the floodgates after she was awarded an RBI single because of catcher interference.

After junior Lindsay Rood drew a bases loaded walk, sophomore Bradie Fillmore capped off the five-run fifth with a bases-clearing three-run single. The Bears got some help from  a misplayed ball at third base that allowed Rood and Jackson to score.

Junior Kamalani Dung got the win, but she was chased out of the game after allowing a three-run homer to senior Heather Bowen in the top of the sixth.

Conley replaced Dung in the circle and shut down Utah’s hopes for a comeback, earning her fifth save of the season.

Game two

Nearly every Cal player contributed to this easy 7-1 win, Conley and freshman Lauren Espalin separated themselves as the stars of this matchup.

Conley pitched a seven-inning shutout to secure her first win in Pac-12 play this season, striking out seven while allowing no earned runs and only two hits. Utah’s lone run came on a throwing error in the first inning.

At the plate, Espalin propelled Cal’s offense with a run scored, two hits and four RBIs on the day. In the first inning, the freshman blasted a two-run double that gave the Bears a 2-1 lead and drove in two more with another double in the fifth.

Jackson, who had two hits as well, finished things off by recording a two-RBI double, pushing the lead to 7-1.

Game three

The final game of the series was yet another lock down performance by the Cal pitching staff, resulting in a 3-1 win.

Dung got her second win of the series, pitching 4.2 innings of one-run ball to improve to 17-3 this season.

Conley replaced Dung in the fifth inning and was lights out on her way to her second save of the series and sixth of the season.

The Cal bats capitalized on Utah’s poor defensive play yet again as a fielding error and passed ball resulted in Cal’s first two runs of the game.

Max Mennemeier covers softball. Contact him at [email protected]