Softball ends weekend undefeated in Kamalani Dung’s Hawaii homecoming

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Cal softball had a perfect weekend at the Hawaii Spring Fling Tournament, outscoring its opponents 56-3 on the way to the team’s seventh straight run-rule victory and ninth straight win.

The long weekend started and ended in the same fashion, with 8-0 victories, and the latter win over Southern Illinois Edwardsville capped an emotional journey for senior pitcher Kamalani Dung, who was lauded off the mound after a one-hit and seven strikeout performance in her final collegiate game on home soil.

“It’s just been amazing pitching at home. I have so many family and friends who came out for the last time I’m playing at home collegiately. It’s a huge deal,” Dung said after concluding her homecoming just 30 miles away from her hometown of Waianae.

Cal set the tone for the tournament with a statement win over St. Bonaventure in the Bears’ Wednesday opener, highlighted by sophomore Karlee Sparacino’s three hits and freshman Makena Smith’s two RBIs. Freshman Alexandra Perez did nice work on both sides of the plate, earning her third win of the season while tallying a hit and an RBI on the day.

The 14-3 beatdown of Niagara the next evening was eclipsed by senior Lindsay Rood and sophomore Mikayla Coelho’s multirun homers during Thursday night’s convincing 14-0 win over Hawaii. Rood ended the weekend going 11 for 17 with six doubles, nine runs scored and three stolen bases after entering the weekend atop multiple Pac-12 offensive leaderboards.

“I kind of called this from the beginning of the year,” Dung said. “I said that if everyone on our team could buy in and start turning the wheels at the exact same time to work together as a unit, this team could be unstoppable this year.”

One of many highlights this weekend was the dominant no-hit performance by redshirt senior Zoe Conley in Cal’s second matchup against St. Bonaventure on Friday afternoon. She was able to make an entire team disappear over five innings, ending her best performance of her career with nine strikeouts.

With the team now sitting at 16-7, head coach Diane Ninemire has every reason to be pleased with her squad, especially given the high quality of opponents the Bears have faced so far this season.

“We had a magnificent week,” Ninemire said. “We came to play softball, and a lot of times when you’re in Hawaii, teams can lose focus with so many attractions. But we were focused, and it showed. The offense came alive, and I really thought our pitchers showed depth this week.”

The Bears will face Fairleigh Dickinson (4-11) in a Wednesday doubleheader before entering conference play against Utah on Friday. The Knights are currently on a four-game losing streak after a 2-4 loss to Pacific.

Cal will hope to maintain its good form going full speed ahead into one of the toughest conferences in the country. The Bears’ winless record against ranked opponents in Pac-12 play last season saw them finish seventh, with a 7-16 overall conference record.

“I think the Pac-12 is always a different beast,” Dung said. “It’s always one of the hardest conferences in the nation, and we know it’s going to be hard, but I think that we are ready for it.”

Ninemire and her squad will hope to make the postseason for a fifth straight season on the back of an improved overall performance from the team during the regular season. Not only has this winning streak provided a much-needed confidence boost for the Bears, but it has shown they are capable of beating the best teams in the country.

“We have a tough stretch coming up with conference play just around the corner, but this gives us some good momentum going in,” Ninemire said.

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