No. 1 Bears’ Hawaii road trip, perfect record besmirched by loss

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The No. 1 Cal softball team has finally lost.

After facing five quality opponents in the span of three days, the fatigue and competition finally got to the resilient Bears, forcing them to drop a game to Hawaii on Thursday, 3-1, in 10 innings.

After defeating No. 21 Texas A&M on Wednesday and No. 6 Texas early on Thursday, Cal remained undefeated. The loss to Hawaii snapped the Bears’ 23-game win streak.

The loss, bringing Cal to 23-1 on the season, did not dispirit the Bears. Two more games against Marist and Winthrop awaited them on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Over the weekend, the Bears took care of business, defeating Marist 1-0 and Winthrop 7-1 at the Hawaii Spring Fling in Honolulu.

Some residual effects seemed to linger into Friday’s game against Marist. The potent Bears offense, which has hit .352 on the year and averaged more than seven runs a game, was silenced by pitcher Melanie White.

White, a freshman from Highland Ranch, Colo., held Cal to one run in six innings of work. The lone run scored in the third inning on a Britt Vonk RBI single.

On the mound for the Bears was Valerie Arioto, the All-American first baseman who has compiled an 11-0 record this year. Arioto tossed four scoreless innings, holding the Red Foxes to three hits and striking out five. Jolene Henderson, the Pac-12 pitcher of the week, came in for the final three innings to earn the save and secure the win for the Bears.

Center fielder Frani Echavarria went 2-for-2, and designated hitter Vonk had an RBI single to lead the limited attack.

The offense awoke from its two-game slumber against Winthrop a day later, unleashing an offensive strike right from the start.

After Henderson tossed a scoreless frame in the top of the first, the Cal offense went right to work, scoring three runs immediately to put the Bears up 3-0 early. Cal tacked on another run in the fourth inning against pitcher Natalie Becker.

In the fifth, the Bears got all the insurance they would need, scoring three runs to make the score 7-0 and putting the game out of reach.

Coach Diane Ninemire inserted backup pitcher Arianna Erceg to complete the contest. Although Erceg struggled, allowing three hits and a run while walking three in two innings, she struck out three and eventually completed the game for Cal.

Freshman shortstop Cheyenne Cordes went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a home run, pacing the Bears’ offense. Rightfielder Breana Kostreba also tacked on two hits and two RBIs.

Henderson improved to 14-1 on the year, pitching five innings, allowing two hits and walking one while striking out five and forcing seven groundouts.

The Spring Fling concluded the Cal preseason schedule. After Tuesday’s home tilt against Princeton at 3 p.m., the Bears officially begin Pac-12 play with a three-game series in at Stanford.