No. 3 Cal softball upset by Florida, Kentucky, start season 2-2

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The Cal softball team is accustomed to winning. They aren’t accustomed to playing .500 ball.

Kicking off their 2013 season, the third-ranked Cal softball team traveled to Tempe, Ariz., for the Kajikawa Classic last weekend. The Bears went 2-2 overall, dropping games to Kentucky and No. 14 Florida.

“We need to learn from our losses and move on,” Cal coach Diane Ninemire said.

Opening up the tournament, Cal was surprisingly upset by unranked Kentucky in extra innings, 3-2. All-American Jolene Henderson pitched all nine innings for the Bears.

The Bears started hot when freshman centerfielder Jasmin Mejia singled home Breana Kostreba and Jordan Wallace.

Kentucky tied the game at two after scoring runs in innings four and six.

In extra innings, each team started off its half of the inning with a runner on second base, due to the international tiebreaker rule. In the top of the ninth, Kentucky’s Lauren Cumbess hit an RBI single to break the tie and provide the winning run, as the Bears were held scoreless in the bottom half of the ninth.

“We couldn’t come up with a run when we needed to,” said Ninemire. “So it’s kind of a heartbreaker. We should have won the game. We had opportunities to win the game. But that’s how it goes.”

Opportunities were plentiful against Cal State Northridge, as the Bears won by a score of 7-2. Junior second baseman Britt Vonk and junior catcher

Victoria Jones had two RBIs apiece, while Nisa Ontiveros made her pitching debut for Cal.

The freshman threw 5 2/3 strong innings to get the win.

“We don’t really look at the past,” Ontiveros said. “We focus on the now and not what happened earlier.”

Later that day, trouble struck the Bears against No. 14 Florida. Henderson uncharacteristically gave up seven runs. Although the Bears held a 3-2 lead through three innings due to RBIs by Cheyenne Cordes and Breana Kostreba, they were shut down the rest of the way, falling by a final score of 7-4.

“We came out great… but it seemed like every time we came back with runs, they came back with more runs,” Ninemire said. “It was a real battle.”

The loss also dropped Henderson’s season record to 0-2.

“I am pretty disappointed in myself,” Henderson said. “But these things are good to learn from, and its good to learn at the beginning of the season rather than at the end.”

Closing out the tournament against Indiana on Sunday, the Bears sent Henderson back to the mound.

Cal was able to pull away from the Hoosiers in the fourth, getting three runs on three hits. The Bears would go on to win 9-1, moving Cal to 2-2 on the season and giving Henderson her first win.

The best thing about the team right now is that we are a good hitting team,” said Ninemire. “We’re getting stronger and better every game.”

Sean Wagner-McGough covers softball. Contact him at [email protected].