Arizona errors allow Bears to steal series-opening victory

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Before the season started, Jamia Reid laid out a few goals for her senior season. She wanted to break her own school record and steal 50 bases in a single season, and she wanted to steal home.

In Friday’s series opener against No. 13 Arizona, Jamia saw her twin sister Elia Reid accomplish one of those feats.

In the bottom of the sixth, Elia stood on third with the Bears holding only a one-run cushion over the Wildcats. Then Arizona pitcher Kenzie Fowler threw a wild pitch, and Reid darted home.

“I am so proud of her,” Jamia said. “She came in to be a base runner and she knew the role and was an important runner.”

Elia’s score would be the last of the game, and the No. 1 Bears came out on top 2-0 at Levine-Fricke field. Cal (38-1, 10-0 in the Pac-12) hosts Arizona (28-11, 7-6) for two more games this weekend, at 1 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

Before the series began, senior outfielder Frani Echavarria predicted that errors would be the decisive factor between the two defensively dominant teams. Her clairvoyance would be spot on, as the Bears scored both of their runs not off hits but Arizona errors.

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the sixth. Fowler walked Valerie Arioto to start the inning. Arioto then moved to third after a single from Jace Williams sent the ball back to Fowler, who then committed a throwing error trying to catch Arioto at second but overthrew into centerfield. Arioto advanced home on a passed ball that catcher Lini Koria was unable to control, and pinch runner Elia advanced to third on the play after she had already stolen second. Elia stole home on Fowler’s next wild pitch.

“Errors definitely came into play today,” Jamia said. “They out hit us, but when errors come in that definitely changes the game quickly.”

The Wildcats committed the only two errors on the day, both of which resulted in runs for the Bears. Arizona did outhit Cal 6-2, even though Cal pitcher Jolene Henderson struck out 10 Wildcats.

“We always need to close things out at the plate,” Jamia said. “We will face a new pitcher tomorrow, and we will need to perform better at the plate.”

Arizona is the third ranked opponent the Bears have faced in conference play. So far, Cal remains perfect in conference matchups, but Friday’s game may have been too close for comfort. Though the squad pulled out the win, the Bears were outperformend by the Wildcats offensively — a rare occurrence for arguably the nation’s most offensively dominant team.

“Nothing in the Pac-12 is easy, but we keep fighting,” Jamia said. “We always seem to fight back. Jolene was working hard on the mound and we knew we had to get it done.”