Cal softball hoping to show their worth in Mary Nutter Classic

Batter swings at ball.
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The Cal softball team’s two impressive wins against ranked opponents last weekend in Florida were sandwiched between lackluster, error-ridden and unfortunate losses. The team currently sits at 6-5 after a Wednesday win against Saint Mary’s, implying there is still plenty of work to be done but also a host of positives to grow from.

“These first two weeks have set us up for the rest of the season,” said head coach Diane Ninemire. “I’m really proud of this team and the fight and grit they’ve shown in this first stretch. It was not easy. We have some things to clean up, but we’re ready to grind.”

The Bears will be taking a trip down south to Palm Springs to face five teams in three days in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. They will face Duke on Friday at 12:30 p.m., then play No. 16-ranked Kentucky and New Mexico State back to back late Saturday afternoon. Cal will then close out the weekend Sunday with a midday doubleheader against Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton.

Careless mistakes once again hurt the Bears in their efforts a week ago, as they tallied nine errors over their five-game set, a trend the team will hope to wipe away with winnable matchups on the horizon. It will take a collective effort, however, with the pitchers looking to minimize easy walks and hits after giving up 26 runs in Florida.

Cal’s offense has continued to produce in the midst of this early season madness, scoring seven or more runs in four of the team’s five wins this season. Senior Lindsay Rood has been firing on all cylinders with a .484 batting average, 15 hits and 12 runs scored.

This weekend’s tournament, consisting of more than 25 teams and more than 50 games, will be livestreamed on flosoftball.com for those with a paid subscription.

 

Here’s a look at Cal’s upcoming opponents this weekend:

 

Duke

Probably Cal’s most evenly matched opponent this weekend, the Blue Devils similarly have started their season 5-5. They have been hot as of late, as they will be shooting for a third straight victory on the season. Freshman infielder Deja Davis has impressed as of late with a .364 batting average, 12 hits and five runs.

 

No. 16 Kentucky

The Wildcats have a tough weekend ahead of them, facing the Bears in between two other Pac-12 opponents in No. 5 Washington and No. 2 UCLA. Kentucky has the most losses (five) of any ranked team, but the team is eager to turn its narrow one-run losses to ranked opponents into convincing victories.

 

New Mexico State

Having played weaker competition leading up to this weekend, the Aggies’ 7-2 record should do little to intimidate the Bears in Palm Springs. But the Bears will need to keep an eye on Aggies senior Victoria Castro, who is leading her conference with a .600 batting average, 24 total bases and 14 runs scored.

 

Long Beach State

The Bears will enter their Sunday doubleheader with a steady amount of confidence as they face Long Beach State, which is 5-5 so far this season. Long Beach will face another Pac-12 opponent in No. 14 Arizona this weekend after a midweek win against Army.

 

Cal State Fullerton

The Titans are flying out of the gates so far this season with a 7-3 record and an impressive showing at the Hillenbrand Invitational last weekend. Fullerton will face No. 5 Washington and No. 4 Oklahoma this weekend before finishing the tournament against Cal.

Spencer Golanka covers softball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @sgolanka.