In the midst of playing seven games in eight days, the Cal softball team finally looked human on Wednesday afternoon.
After winning the first two games of a three-game series against the No. 19 Arizona Wildcats, the No. 5 Bears were dominated throughout all seven innings in the final game at Hillenbrand Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Bears swept the doubleheader on Tuesday, winning 6-2 and 5-1, but fell 7-3 on Wednesday.
The series’ results moves Cal’s overall record to 29-4 overall and 5-1 in Pac-12 play.
“While in the short term losing a game sucks, in the long term, it’s not about how many games you won or lost,” senior catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt said. “It’s about where you end up at the end of the season.”
On Tuesday, Cal relied heavily on the longball, as it went yard six times over the course of their two victories. Jolene Henderson provided two of those home runs and pitched two complete games. Fellow senior Lindsey Ziegenhirt also accounted for two home runs as she pushed her home run total to 14.
As the team leader in home runs, Ziegenhirt’s bombs didn’t come as a surprise.
“I was just working to hit my pitch, and she threw it there,” Ziegenhirt said. “There wasn’t anything special about those at-bats, just that I put a good bat on the ball.”
The first two games featured vintage performances from Henderson, as she gave up only three runs over the span of both games.
The final game of the series didn’t start off as planned for Henderson as she allowed the first three batters to reach base. Henderson looked visibly frustrated at the calls from the home-plate umpire and continuously fell behind in the counts. Faced with a bases-loaded situation, she surrendered three runs by the time she could shut the door on the first inning.
“I did pretty terrible,” Henderson said. “I definitely didn’t give our team good odds to win the game.”
The Bears squandered their own bases-loaded opportunity in the top of the second inning when Khala Taylor went down swinging and Cheyenne Cordes flew out to shallow right field to end the inning.
The Bears missed out on plenty of opportunities to get back into the game while Henderson uncharacteristically gave up six runs in six innings. Henderson’s performance was her worst since the third game of the season back on Feb. 9 against No. 3 Florida, when Henderson was charged with seven runs in a losing effort.
“We’re getting people on base and we got hits, but we’re just not getting those timely hits,” Ziegenhirt said. “Leaving people on base is never a good statistic to have, but it’s one that we can fix with a little bit of luck and little bit of better timing.”
The going won’t get any easier for Cal. The Bears return home to take on No. 10 Oregon on Saturday. While fatigue is undoubtedly a factor, Ziegenhirt refused to blame the loss to Arizona or any future losses on the Bears’ busy schedule.
“I can’t say that I wasn’t tired, but I can’t say that our energy should have been low just because we played two games the day before,” Ziegenhirt said. “I mean, this is what we train for all season. Fatigue really shouldn’t be an issue at this point.”