RRR week: Rallies, runs, RBIs all necessary for Cal’s success

Photo of cal softball players congratulating each other
Theo Wyss-Flamm/Senior Staff

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As the end of the semester nears and final exams approach, Cal softball starts its last stretch of games and series to close out the season. Before playing three consecutive Pac-12 teams, the blue and gold first have a midweek review session against the Spartans at home. 

Let’s see if the Bears studied.

SJSU will trek an hour north to Levine-Fricke Field for the first time, although these teams have played each other before just twice. The last matchup between the Bears and the Spartans was in 2015 in Honolulu, which resulted in a 3-2 victory for Cal. In 2013, the two teams went head-to-head in Las Vegas, where SJSU got crushed 6-0 by a #9/8 ranked Cal softball team. 

Looking at 2022, each team approaches Wednesday’s game with similar records: Cal at 25-20-1 and SJSU at 20-23. Both teams lost their previous series, with the Bears losing two games and tying one to Miami and the Spartans getting swept in three games by Boise State.  

To further compare these teams, let’s look at how each one performed against similar schools. SJSU has lost to Stanford, UC Davis and University of the Pacific, while Cal has ended up victorious facing all three of these teams. The Bears lost to Sacramento State, whereas the Spartans won both games played against the Hornets. 

Even though the Bears should have the upper hand when comparing all of these elements, Cal softball needs to make sure to keep up its recent consistent hitting in order to put pressure on the opposing offense and defense. On the defensive side, the Bears must limit the free passes of walks and errors allowed since this has been the main contributing factor when they struggle. 

After Wednesday’s matchup at home, the Bears will fly to Arizona to face off against the Sun Devils in the scorching weather. This is not going to be an easy series for Cal as Arizona State is in second place in the Pac-12 softball standings. 

This season, ASU has put on a dominant display with a current record of 32-7. It just recently lost to Stanford after winning 20 consecutive games, dating all the way back to March 6. 

ASU’s powerhouse lineup is led by its top four: Alynah Torres (.383), Yannira Acuña (.436), Cydney Sanders (.429) and Jazmine Hill (.345). Each of these hitters has more than 40 hits on the season, as well as 10 or more home runs, which is good for a combined 145 RBIs produced by the top four in the lineup alone. 

However, Cal’s top four, consisting of Makena Smith (.418), Tatum Anzaldo (.404), Acacia Anders (.342) and Sona Halajian (.378), lead the charge with a combined 22 more hits than the opposing four. The long ball may be more frequent for the Sun Devils, but the Bears apply the on-base pressure: the key to their success. 

These two teams have plenty of history being conference competitors, playing a total of 55 games since 2001. In those matchups, Cal has won 22 of them, losing the most recent one in 2019 in a game where Smith homered and drove in two runs. Can Smith and Cal’s offense give the Sun Devil’s hell this upcoming weekend, or will the opponents continue to improve their impressive record? jo

Let’s see if the Bears can handle the heat: both the Tempe weather and the fierce Sun Devils.

Joshua Kamins covers softball. Contact him at [email protected].