A full force in Fullerton: Cal softball starts season 4-1

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Lisi Ludwig/Senior Staff

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Over the weekend, only one team with the moniker “Rams” emerged victorious — and no, it wasn’t Colorado State. 

In the Easton Classic, Cal softball edged out the Rams in a narrow 2-1 win and blew Cal State Fullerton, Dixie State and San Diego out of the water by a margin of four or more runs, but fell to Ole Miss in a 1-0 shutout. Playing five opponents in just three days is no easy task, but the Bears kept their focus steady in Fullerton to start the 2022 season off with a bang. 

Day one saw back-to-back battles less than three hours apart. At noon, the first pitch was underway against the Toreros, with Cal sophomore pitcher Haylei Archer anchoring the mound. San Diego began the matchup with an early 2-0 lead, prompting the Bears to swap out Archer for their freshman relief pitcher Anna Reimers, who’d allow just one run in over five innings thereafter. 

Meanwhile, the Bears quickly found their groove. Down by two runs, the blue and gold answered back with five of their own in the third inning, two in the fourth and three in the sixth –– a well-balanced attack that came from multiple players. Notably, sophomore Tatum Anzaldo went 3-3 at the plate, tallying up the same amount of runs individually that the Toreros put together as a nine-player unit. Following the decisive 10-3 victory, Cal carried the momentum past Dixie State to end the day 2-0. 

Right from the get-go, the Bears were hot. Recording eight runs in the first three innings, they dug a hole on the field that the Trailblazers couldn’t escape. Anzaldo led the team once again with two runs and a hit, compared to four hits and a dinger by Dixie State’s Kasey Crawford. The latter player’s efforts proved futile, however, as Cal’s pitchers Sona Halajian and Annabel Teperson kept their opponents at bay in six innings pitched. The final score posted was a five-run victory for the Bears, 12-7. 

Day two was a bit more challenging for Cal. Facing both Ole Miss and Cal State Fullerton, the Bears could only muster one victory and seven total runs — all of which came against only the host team. 

The Titans posed little threat in the early evening, as they were shut out by Archer in five of the seven innings played. Anzaldo, Makena Smith and Kacey Zobac all racked up two or more hits, and Alexis Bishop totaled four RBIs to give the Bears a 7-3 dub Saturday. 

However, Ole Miss threw the Bears off the beaten path by neutralizing every attempt at bat. The defensive duties were split up by pitchers Anna Borgen and Savannah Diedrich, whilst the offensive efforts were led by KK Esparza. By the end of the second inning, Esparza launched a deep ball out of the field to put the Rebels up 1-0 — the sole run of the ball game and Esparza’s first career home run. 

On the third and final day, Cal edged out its one and only opponent in Colorado State. Both teams’ offenses struggled throughout most of the game, which saw two extra innings. In the eighth and ninth innings, the Bears were able to outscore the Rams 2-1, thanks to the efforts of Smith, Olivia Silvestre and Amani Bradley’s stolen bases, game-winning bunts and runs. 

Wrapping up the weekend with a 4-1 overall record, Cal softball can now look forward to the upcoming Littlewood Classic in Arizona. There, it will play another slate of five opponents — Illinois State, Portland State, Minnesota, UTEP and St. Mary’s — in six games. Though it’s early in the season, the Bears’ success against a myriad of opponents bodes well for them before entering Pac-12 play. 

Ryan Chien is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @RyanChienMedia.