Cal softball notches comeback win vs. UC Davis

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Star Wars fans know that Anakin Skywalker turned to the dark side after being lured by Emperor Palpatine. While young, talented and creative, Skywalker’s biggest weakness was his lack of patience. It was this flaw in his personality that was exploited by the Emperor, leading to uncontrollable frustration and, ultimately, his transition from good to evil. Had he been more patient with his teachers and not chosen the quick and easy path to power, Skywalker would have stayed on track to possibly becoming one of the Jedi Council’s most prized members.

Patience can be put to test outside of one of cinema’s most popular film series. Life is full of instances in which patience can pay off, including the world of sports. When the Cal softball team (27-16) fell behind 3-0 to Northern California foe UC Davis (18-27) early Wednesday evening, it didn’t panic or start swinging for the fences. It helped that redshirt sophomore ace Zoe Conley was the one toeing the rubber, but the offense fell back on a patient approach at the plate to instigate its thrilling comeback 6-4 win.

Expected to easily handle an Aggies team that had won just two of its past 10 games, the Bears came out and did anything but that in the opening frame. A passed ball and an error allowed their opponents to score 3 quick runs on just one hit. The Cal lineup was threatened in the top of the inning after junior Jazmyn Jackson was hit by a pitch, and junior cleanup hitter Kobie Pettis walked to put runners at the corners, but she came away empty-handed.

Rather than waste any time, the Bears began their comeback in the second inning by displaying — what else — patience at the plate. For a team whose middle of the lineup has struggled to get on base, Cal executed that seemingly difficult task as seniors Khala Taylor and Annie Aldrete walked to lead off the second. Two batters later, sophomore Krysten McCue, who received a rare start in center field, laid down a bunt single that got the Bears on the board. The offense would later cut the deficit down to just 1 run after Jackson picked up her team-leading 29th RBI.

The theme of patience didn’t end there. Aldrete, who began the day with just five drawn walks on the year, led the Bears with three free passes, one of which came in the midst of a four-run third inning that put Cal ahead for good. Like the two-run second inning, a perfectly executed bunt, this time from freshman Bradie Fillmore, sparked a series of events that fell Cal’s way, including Pettis escaping a run-down to score the Bears’ go-ahead run. While it may have been easier for Cal to knock one out of the park, Aldrete’s patience and well-placed bunt sparked the offense to a six-run outing.

After a rough start, Conley settled down to silence UC Davis’ bats, making only one mistake the rest of the way, giving up a solo shot by junior Ashley Lotoszynski that cut the lead to 6-4. It wasn’t the prettiest outing of Conley’s career, coming in at 121 pitches, but given ample run support by a patient lineup, it was enough to end the Bears’ regular season nonconference schedule on a high note.

Josh Yuen covers softball. Contact him at [email protected].