Over the course of the past month, the Cal softball team has suffered the same fate to the point of redundancy: losing to nationally ranked teams because of an inability to manufacture more than a handful of runs.
After losing their status as a ranked team, falling just outside of the top 25, six points short of No. 25 BYU, the Bears headed into their three-game series against No. 4 Arizona desperate to correct a season that has quickly started to go off the rails.
Cal began this weekend’s action with a four-game winning streak, three of which came by way of a series sweep against rival Stanford. But the Wildcats snatched whatever positive energy the Bears may have possessed, holding Cal to only one run in all three games en route to a series sweep in Bear Territory.
The Bears suffered three losses by final scores of 7-0, 6-0, and 6-1, dropping to 21-11 on the season. Of more significance, Cal dropped its eighth game in eight opportunities against nationally ranked squads, and with the season approaching its halfway point, the Bears’ chances for a playoff push look bleaker and bleaker with every passing game.
Arizona’s sweep of Cal comes two weeks after No. 3 Oregon also swept the Bears, dismantling them both in the circle and the batter’s box. The Wildcats one-upped the Ducks in their rout of the Bears, limiting the Bears to 11 hits over 74 at-bats, good for a batting average of .149.
Senior Kylie Reed was Cal’s only offensive bright spot during the series, totaling three hits. Freshman Bradie Fillmore had the Bears’ lone RBI in the series, a single which drove in sophomore Krysten McCue in the final of three games.
Having scored a grand total of one run in the series, the Bears have now only mustered six runs and 33 hits in eight games against nationally ranked opponents, a horrid average of about 0.8 runs and 4.1 hits per game. In those games, the Bears scored one run or less in seven.
The Wildcats utilized only two pitchers the entire weekend, riding redshirt senior Danielle O’Toole for 14 innings, and seven innings from sophomore Taylor McQuillin. O’Toole shutout the Bears in the first game of the series while striking out eight, then proceeded to follow up her performance in the last game of the series with another three strikeouts. McQuillin struck out seven in a complete game shutout during the middle game.
Cal’s starting rotation wasn’t nearly as sharp, allowing a combined 14 earned runs in only eight innings of work. Redshirt sophomore Zoe Conley, who started the second and third games of the series, couldn’t duplicate her dominant performances against Stanford last weekend, surrendering nine earned runs and six walks while only striking out four batters.
Despite a shaky weekend overall for the Bear pitching staff, senior Katie Sutherland-Finch provided much needed stability in three appearances out of the bullpen, allowing only one earned run over 10.2 innings of relief, including a 4.2 inning outing with four strikeouts in the first game of the series.
Justice delos Santos covers softball. Contact him at [email protected]