End of April downed, hope for May rebound: Cal aims to finish strong against Arizona, UCLA

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Theo Wyss-Flamm/Senior Staff

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Arizona’s return to Berkeley for a three-game series means there will be entertaining softball played at Levine-Fricke Field this weekend. With far more than 100 games played between these two teams, Cal is looking to break the Wildcats’ seven consecutive series wins against it — a streak that dates back to April 2014.

With their last 10 matchups, the Wildcats stand at 9-1, performing in commanding fashion in this collection of games. The only game in the last few years that the Bears managed to win against Arizona was a 1-0 walk-off victory in extra innings in 2019.

Cal does have the edge this time around with home-field advantage — an aspect that gives it the upper hand as the team is already batting last due to the Wildcats’ history of performing worse against the Bears when they’re at home.

In present times, Arizona has shown similar signs of dominance leading up to this series. Outfielder Paige Dimler earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors, and infielder Allie Skaggs earned her second consecutive Player of the Week recognition. The explosive offensive numbers included a .563 batting average and four home runs for Dimler, and a .400 average and three home runs for Skaggs.

These sluggers are just two of the many assets that make up the Wildcats’ lineup and contribute to their 31-16 season record. Other offensive threats include on-base player Jasmine Perezchica and power hitter Carlie Scupin.

For the home team, the blue and gold have lost their last three games, even though recently they have done a great job of scoring first and putting pressure on their opponents. The team will need to count on the spark plugs of Makena Smith, Tatum Anzaldo and Acacia Anders to continue this force at the top of the lineup.

On the pitching side, Cal’s Haylei Archer, Sona Halajian and Annabel Teperson have struggled as of late, contributing to the team’s current losing streak. The moderate offensive support from Cal’s lineup in the last couple of weeks has proved to be insufficient support for the pitching staff. This much-needed improvement will be a key component to success against Arizona this weekend.

When comparing some teams that both the Bears and Wildcats have matched up with this season, a better sense of how these two teams will compete is unveiled. Against Fresno State, both programs have two victories, although Arizona conceded five runs to the Bulldogs in comparison to Cal’s shutout softball.

Against Pac-12 teams Oregon and Oregon State, some considerable differences become evident. Against Oregon, the Wildcats took the series win 2-1, scoring double-digit runs in both their victories. In comparison, the Bears ended with two losses in three games against the Ducks, only scoring double digits in their one win. Against Oregon State, Arizona walked away with one victory in the series, while Cal got swept and shutout in the three games.

The Bears and the Wildcats both have a 6-12 record against Pac-12 competition, making this matchup even more intriguing as the season approaches its conclusion. Arizona has the momentum of a six-game win streak, but Cal’s offense is expected to ignite against a formidable opponent.

These are the predictions for this series: With Smith’s pattern of hitting a home run every few games, a long ball awaits in this series. Cal’s slugger Halajian finds herself in the midst of a home-run drought, so a competitive opponent like the Wildcats will force her to regain her footing and find the power stroke. If the Bears score early, put pressure on Arizona throughout the game and limit the damage, a series victory is in the near future.

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