The Oregon State men’s basketball team may have upset a No. 4 seed to punch its ticket to the Sweet 16 on Sunday night, but OSU’s softball counterparts enjoyed a successful weekend too. Unfortunately for Cal, it can attest.
Though a strong performance on the mound from Haylei Archer and a fence-clearer off the bat from Karlee Sparacino were enough to take care of the Tigers at Pacific’s Bill Simoni Field on Wednesday afternoon, the Beavers halted the Bears’ momentum in Corvallis. The 2-0 victory marked Cal’s seventh win in eight contests, but Oregon State would end up taking three of four from the Bears behind precise pitching and powerful hitting.
In Friday’s first match of the series, the Cal offense that had erupted for a combined 49 hits just a week prior was held to none by Oregon State’s Mariah Mazon. Both Makena Smith and Sophie Medellin worked walks to keep Mazon from earning a perfect game, but the two free passes paled in comparison to the Beavers’ offensive stat line. Oregon State tagged Chloe Romero for two solo shots and a three-run homer en route to a 6-0 victory.
Eager for redemption Saturday afternoon, Cal jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Smith reached on an error, allowing Sona Halajian to belt a two-out, two-run roundtrip to give the Bears an early advantage. The pair of runs would be all Archer needed as she went the distance to improve to 5-0 on the year. The freshman recorded a season-high seven strikeouts while allowing just three hits and two walks.
In the second contest of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Beavers reclaimed their home dirt. Oregon State belted another trio of home runs, though this time Cal was able to put some runs up on the scoreboard. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the third, Halajian ripped a single up the middle, scoring pinch runner Amani Bradley to tie the duel at one. The Beavers responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-run single, then padded the advantage with their second solo shot of the game to go up 4-1 in the fourth. A brief rally in the fifth courtesy of Smith, Cameron Kondo, and Aleia Agbayani slimmed Oregon State’s lead to 4-2, but the Beavers tacked on two more in the latter half of the inning to put the game away for good.
Oregon State picked up where it left off in the series finale, collecting four runs in the bottom of the first after the Bears posted a run earlier in the frame. A long ball off the bat from Tatum Anzaldo cut Oregon State’s lead to one with three innings left to complete a comeback, but the Beavers held on for the 4-3 victory.
Pac-12 play will continue this weekend as Cal hosts No. 2 UCLA at Levine-Fricke Field for a four-game series starting Friday. Coming off a series sweep of No. 11 Arizona State, the red-hot Bruins now boast a 19-1 record — the Bruins’ sole loss was a 3-1 defeat to fourth-ranked Oregon. Nine of their wins have ended by mercy-rule.
Strong performances in the circle and clean defense will be a must against a UCLA lineup that includes eight players hitting over .350 and is averaging 7.75 runs per game. One the mound, the defending Women’s College World Series champion have been equally dominant, its pitchers having posted a collective 1.09 ERA on the season through Sunday.
The saying goes that to be the best, you have to beat the best — and presumably, the second best. Cal will have several opportunities to do so this weekend.
Allie Coyne covers softball. Contact her at [email protected].