Trailing Oregon State 1-0 in the top of the seventh, Cal pitcher Jolene Henderson (29-8) found herself in a jam with runners on second and third and only one man out. The All-American induced a slow comebacker to the mound, fielded it cleanly and fired a throw to first base for the out.
The inning wasn’t over, but Henderson’s day was.
Moments after throwing the ball to first base, Henderson grimaced and collapsed to the ground holding her left leg. In seconds, the crowd at Levine-Fricke field turned from raucous to dead silent.
As the All-American sat down, clutching her leg, the Cal infielders surrounded their star pitcher, along with the Cal training staff. After a few minutes, Henderson was carried off the field by two trainers.
Immediately following the game, Henderson was carted away from Levine-Fricke field.
“She’s down with the medical staff right now,” said Cal coach Diane Ninemire. “I have nothing to report because I don’t know.”
Although the specifics of the injury are unknown at this point, losing Henderson for an extended amount of time seriously dampens the Bears’ hopes of an NCAA championship. She has started 33 of the 44 games the Bears have played this season, appearing in all but four games for a total of 249.2 innings pitched.
“(It’s devastating) anytime you lose a player of her caliber on any team,” Ninemire said.
Adding insult to injury, the Bears also lost the game in a heartbreaking manner when they stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh. In the previous inning, Cal also left runners on first and second with no outs, when Lindsey Ziegenhirt, Danielle Henderson and Jolene Henderson all went down on consecutive strikeouts.
“This is a day where you kind of just beat yourself,” Ninemire said.
Although it fell 1-0 on Sunday, Cal (35-9, 9-6 Pac-12) beat Oregon State (27-17, 4-11 Pac-12) in the first two games of the series, 8-0 and 3-1, on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The first game was never close. The Bears jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning and led 6-0 after four innings.
In the bottom of the fifth, Cal put an end to the game via the mercy rule when Cheyenne Cordes jacked a two-run bomb to stretch the final margin to 8-0.
After initially missing out on two pitches right down the middle from Oregon State starter Tina Andreana, Cordes was all over the next fastball she saw.
“I watched two fatties, and I was thinking, ‘Well, I better do something now since I watched two fatties,’” Cordes said. “The pitch was a little high, but I just got my hands up and tomahawked it over the fence.”
The Bears utilized seven dominant innings from Henderson on Saturday to take the second game by a score of 3-1. Breana Kostreba and Victoria Jones each went yard for Cal, while Cordes added an RBI single.
Despite winning two of three, Ninemire was not pleased by the weekend’s results.
“In my mind, this was a weekend that we needed to win three,” Ninemire said. “Now we’ve really put our backs against the wall.”