While many UC Berkeley students went home to relax during spring recess, the Bears hosted Arizona State and No. 24 Utah in two pivotal Pac-12 series.
Cal, initially lacking a conference series win, handled business to conclude the month of March. The blue and gold took two of three games against both the Sun Devils and Utes — playing like one of the Pac-12’s better programs.
The Bears began the week’s action versus ASU.
Cal edged out the Sun Devils by a score of 4-3 in Game 1, with Haylei Archer earning the complete game win to improve to 7-3. Elon Butler and Makena Smith had two RBIs apiece to carry the offense.
The following affair was a calm 2-0 Cal victory that saw Annabel Teperson dominate in the circle, pitching seven scoreless frames.
Teperson moved to 6-1 on the season (7-2 after the Utah series), a major improvement from her 2022 record of 2-4.
“Through experience, I’ve learned to better prepare, make adjustments and adapt to things throughout games,” Teperson said. “I know we’re only going to keep growing and I can’t wait for the rest of the season with this team.”
The Bay Area local’s development has aligned with the success of the Bears, as the two are better and more seasoned than last year.
Cal would drop the finale against ASU by a score of 4-3, but its momentum didn’t wane heading into the midweek.
After the matchup against the University of the Pacific was canceled due to muddy weather conditions, the blue and gold shifted their focus onto the Utes.
Facing their second top-25 opponent of the year, the Bears had a chance to put the nation on notice for a second time.
Behind the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week in Butler, Cal did just that — outscoring the red and black 11-8 throughout the three games and winning the series.
The Bears lost the opener 1-3 but responded with two wins by scores of 5-1 and 5-4.
Butler finished the weekend (literally, with a walk-off home run) boasting a .500 batting average, five RBIs and four hits.
“I just tried to do my best for the team and stay focused every single pitch,” Butler said. “I told myself to make adjustments and to keep things very simple,” when things rarely went south.
Butler has seven hits and seven RBIs over her last six games, and Cal has needed every bit of it to continue its strong stretch of play.
With 18 games remaining, the blue and gold pose the fifth of nine in the Pac-12 standings.
Although controlling the conference and winning championships are goals for Cal softball, the team should also pay attention to national rankings.
The blue and gold made D1Softball.com’s top-25 rankings for the first time since 2018. Given the Bears now have wins against two ranked opponents in No. 2 UCLA and No. 24 Utah and hold a record of 24-9-1, it was hard for voters to look the other way.
Cal heads to No. 10 Washington on Thursday, where the Bears will enter one of the harder stretches left on their schedule.
The blue and gold will only play one game in Berkeley (against Santa Clara) until April 26 versus Oregon.
However, the Bears are ready for the challenge.
“This team is very talented and we’re ready to take on the Pac-12,” Butler said.
In the middle of a down year for Cal Athletics, the softball program has been steadily elite.
As coaches are fired and hired, losses are abundant, athletes transfer and stands are nearly empty, the Bears on the diamond have been a consistent bright spot for the Cal faithful.