Although the chilliness of Berkeley’s fall weather endorses layers upon layers of sweaters and a steady supply of hot chocolate rather than softball’s warm springtime spirit, as long as the sun shines down on the Bay Area, there is a ballgame to be played.
The Cal softball team will get in a bit of offseason work this upcoming weekend, embodying Ernie Banks’s memorable “Let’s play two” attitude with a doubleheader against Cal Poly. The Bears will host both games at Levine-Fricke Field on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., respectively. Cal split its two-game season series against the Mustangs last season, winning the first game 5-3 but dropping the second 5-0.
The Bears are coming off a solid overall season last year, posting a 33-24-1 record but would like to see an improvement in their conference play, in which they finished 9-11-1. They were also only modest in defending their home field, posing a 19-16-1 record when playing in Berkeley.
Cal was in the upper echelon of pitching in the Pac-12 last season, ranking No. 4 with a 2.98 ERA and 306 strikeouts, while No. 5 in opponent batting average at .263, much due in part to the fireworks from now-departed Nisa Ontiveros. Cal will need to figure out a way to replace their former workhorse, who posted a 2.05 ERA while logging 167 innings.
The Bears will also need to make significant strides as a team at the plate. As a whole, Cal ranked No. 6 in team batting average in 2015. They also ranked No. 8 in both in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, posting a team slash line of .301/.366/.403.
Luckily, the Bears have a solid core that can pave the way offensively. Last season, senior Kylie Reed ranked No. 4 in the Pac-12 with a .403 batting average. Reed also racked up the second most hits in the league with 75, trailing only teammate junior Jazmyn Jackson, who led the Pac-12 with 82 while ranking No. 11 in batting average at .380.
Sophomore Lindsay Rood haunted pitchers in her own right, ranking No. 16 in batting average, No. 6 in on-base percentage and No. 4 in walks, all while leading the Pac-12 in stolen bases with 22. Jackson had 13 steals of her own, good enough for a tie for third place.
The Bears hope the two games this weekend will be a step in the right direction for the fast-approaching spring season.
Contact Justice delos Santos at [email protected]