Grand slams, collegiate debuts, cross-town rival redemption — this past weekend had it all.
Hoping to capitalize on the momentum from last Sunday’s electrifying come-from-behind, walk-off victory into the South Bay, the Bears brought their bats and were dominant on the mound, leaving the weekend with three wins and a loss.
In its 7-4 win over Cal Baptist on Friday afternoon, Cal picked up where it left off with two runs in the top of the first. Mikayla Coelho hit a leadoff single and eventually found third, after a wild pitch from Lancer pitcher Giana Lopez and groundout from Makena Smith. Lauren Espalin then put the ball in play to reach base on an error by Cal Baptist’s third baseman, bringing Coelho in to score and give Cal a 1-0 advantage. A two-out infield single courtesy of Kacey Zobac brought Espalin home, putting the Bears up 2-0.
Cal struck again in the top of the third. Smith singled up the middle to start the inning and the Bears eventually loaded the bases for second baseman Karlee Sparacino after Espalin was hit by a pitch, and Sona Halajian worked Lopez for a walk. A seventh inning hero in last week’s game against Saint Mary’s, Sparacino belted a grand slam over the right field fence to make it 6-0.
The Bears capitalized on another Lancer error for an insurance run in their final at-bats; Kennedy Thomas made it around the bases following a mishap by the Cal Baptist center fielder on her triple to left-center.
Though the Lancers were able to find a run in bottom of the fifth and plate three in the seventh, just two of those runs were earned as Cal’s Chloe Romero and Haylei Archer were able to hold on for the win. The right-handers struck out a collective nine Cal Baptist batters, each punch out sending a Lancer back to the dugout after a swing and a miss.
Saturday’s matchup against Cal Baptist ended with the same final scoreline and a similar scorecard, as the Bears notched another 7-4 victory fueled by four runs in the third. This time, however, the Lancers got on the board first, as speedy centerfielder Ashley McBay was able to steal home after singling to center and advancing to third on a walk and flyout to right. Cal Baptist tacked on another run in the second before Cal took control in the third to put themselves ahead for good.
The blue and gold’s offense was led by a 3-for-3 afternoon from Smith. After seeing her 22-game hit streak come to an end Friday night, the junior bounced back for her second three-hit game of the season, collecting three singles, a walk, and two RBIs.
Of the pair of contests against cross-rival Stanford, the Cardinal claimed the first victory Friday evening. Though the Bears saw a strong outing from Halajian on the mound and at the plate, with the righthander allowing two earned runs and two walks to go along with her seven strikeouts and RBI single, Cal fell just short of victory. A home run by first baseman Emily Schultz in the sixth proved to be the game winner as Stanford held on for the 3-2 win.
The Bears had the final word against the Cardinal, however, as the blue and gold ended up on top after Saturday afternoon’s 5-3 win behind a stingy first career start from pitcher Archer. The freshman allowed two earned runs and recorded three strikeouts, one of which got her out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the second.
“The bases were loaded but I knew my team had my back. They had had my back the whole game, nothing was going to change [then],” Archer said. “I just needed to help them out and do what I could so they could help me.”
Help Archer they did. At the plate, Cameron Kondo and Tatum Anzaldo hit consecutive RBI singles to give the Bears a 2-0 lead in the second after back-to-back one-baggers by Kennedy Thomas and Sophie Medellin to start the inning. Cal continued its scoring run in the third with a bases-loaded, line-drive infield single off the bat of Medellin to put the Bears up 4-0 and a sacrifice fly from Tatum Anzaldo to make the margin five. The Cardinal fought back with three runs of their own in later innings but could not undo Cal’s quick start to avoid defeat on its home dirt.
The game against Santa Clara scheduled for Sunday was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns within the Broncos’ program.
The Bears return to Stanford’s Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium for games against BYU and UC Santa Barbara on Thursday and Friday. Cal will host the Gauchos on Saturday and Nevada on Sunday at Levine-Fricke Field to round out the weekend.
“We were so fired up against Stanford,” Archer said. “I think if we can continue that next weekend and the rest of the season, we are going to be extremely successful.”
Allie Coyne covers softball. Contact her at [email protected].