To begin Pac-12 play, the 17-4 Bears hosted the 23-1, No. 2 UCLA Bruins in a three-game series for the ages.
Despite just winning one of three contests, the blue and gold snapped a decade-long losing streak to their Southern Californian rival in a rainy thriller.
The historic victory came Saturday, following a loss to the Bruins the day before.
Friday’s opener was, as the 4-0 Bruins’ win suggests, all UCLA.
The Bruins’ Brooke Yanez pitched a one-hitter through five innings to lead the way on the mound, while Megan Grant ruled the batter’s box with three hits and three RBIs. The Bears simply could not keep up with the nation’s second-best program and Cal’s Haylei Archer earned her second loss of the season.
Saturday was the more memorable day for softball in Berkeley.
The blue and gold run-ruled the Bruins, handing them their second loss on the year by a five-inning final score of 8-0.
UCLA, which had previously only lost to Oklahoma, the top-ranked softball team in the country, was played off the diamond.
The Bears were led by Tatum Anzaldo, who was perfect on the day with three hits in three at-bats. Serving as one of the blue and gold’s vocal leaders, Anzaldo understood the magnitude of the team’s historic victory.
“(That) sounds really cool when you say it out loud,” Anzaldo said of Cal’s first win against UCLA since 2013. “I think that’s what our whole season, our mantra has been about — taking what we want instead of thinking that things are gonna be handed to us. I’m pretty speechless right now, I’m not going to lie.”
She finished the game with two RBIs, hitting her first home run of the year in the process.
Makena Smith also got in on the action, breaking the game open with a two-run shot in the third inning to extend Cal’s lead from 3-0 to 5-0.
“I was just looking for a pitch to hit, I had two strikes on me,” said Smith. “I knew that she was gonna give me something eventually as long as I just battled.”
Smith, the lone senior for the Bears, has been called upon to deliver in many crucial situations throughout the season — and she has delivered virtually every time.
In addition to their hot bats, the blue and gold were propelled by an inspired outing from pitcher Sona Halajian. The junior tossed a complete-game shutout and could not have had her best performance of the year in more timely fashion for the Bears.
Halajian limited the Bruins to a mere four hits — a sensational figure considering UCLA averages roughly nine per game.
Cal’s win was the highlight of the weekend for Bears fans as the team proved that they can hang with the best softball programs in not only the Pac-12 but the country.
Sunday’s game was much more exciting for those invested in the Bruins. After a 90-minute rain delay, UCLA defeated the blue and gold 10-1, run-ruling the Bears in six innings to move to 25-2 on the year.
Archer had another rough time in the circle, giving up four runs in 1.1 innings. The Bruins’ Maya Brady put the conference on notice as she posted four RBIs, adding to her season total of 32. Yanez also continued her dominance, allowing just three hits en route to her ninth-straight win.
Although the blue and gold dropped two of three versus the Bruins, the team should be in high spirits. Many assumed UCLA wouldn’t break a sweat versus Cal, but the Bruins return to Los Angeles with their seven-game win streak snapped.
Now at 18-6, Cal will need to keep leaning on internal trust as they host Fresno State on Wednesday.
“We have a lot of energy to give. We’re a team that loves each other a lot, and we have camaraderie,” Smith said.