With only one week before the start of the playoffs, the Cal softball team (31-22-1,11-11-1 Pac-12) knew it was imperative to win the last series of the regular season against No.18 Arizona. The Bears planned to do just that by entering this series with tons of energy. But in the end, they failed to live up to expectations. Cal was only able to win the second matchup of a three-game series, being completely outscored by 15 total runs in those two losses.
The Wildcats came out swinging in game one, defeating the Bears in an 8-0 shutout. The story of the game was all about the fabulous pitching of Arizona’s redshirt junior Danielle O’Toole, striking out six batters and allowing no earned runs in five innings. Cal’s senior starting pitcher Nisa Ontiveros on the other hand had a rare bad day, allowing four earned runs through four innings.
And the offense wasn’t much better, only tallying two hits the entire day.
Luckily for the Bears, they were able to shake the loss off heading into Friday, picking up a 5-3 win in game two. Arizona struck first, driving in a run in the bottom of the first off a sacrifice fly from junior Katiyana Mauga.
But the Bears didn’t let the nightmare of the previous day repeat itself, taking a 2-1 lead the very next inning. This was all thanks to Cal’s junior designated hitter Alleah Laxamana, hitting a two-run home run over the right center wall to give her team the lead.
And the Bears didn’t take long to strike again, scoring three more runs in the top of the third. The offense began with sophomore Kobie Pettis, stepping to the plate with two on and two out and hitting a triple. This allowed both runners to score and put Pettis in scoring position. Junior Khala Taylor then stepped up herself, singling to center to give her team a 5-1 lead.
Ontiveros shook off her poor performance from the previous game and did what needed to be done to secure her team the victory. She pitched the entire seven innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs. The only real trouble of the day came in the bottom of the sixth, as Mauga brought the Wildcats within inches of a comeback after a two-run home run.
But Ontiveros never put her head down, as she regained focus to end the inning with a strikeout over Arizona’s freshman Hillary Edior. The Wildcats had no more fight in them left, falling to the Bears 5-3.
Cal was hoping its game two victory would provide the energy to finish the season finale out strong. But that was far from happening with the team being blown out in game three, 11-2.
With the regular season now over, all the Bears have in their way is the upcoming NCAA playoffs, a tournament Cal is itching to compete in. In their eyes, the playoffs are a whole new start — a chance to turn a so far uneventful season into something historic.
“This is the time of the season where everyone has to stay together, we need to keep working on the little things heading into this week and we’ll be good,” Pettis said.
Alex Quintana covers softball. Contact him at [email protected].