A three-game series against Pac-12 opponent Washington presents the Bears an opportunity to enter the top half of the conference standings, as they currently sit at fifth.
Cal started its Pac-12 season slate by losing its series to No. 3 UCLA and then tying Oregon State. Thereafter, Cal was the victor of back-to-back conference series matchups against Arizona State and No. 22 Utah.
This performance was a massive team accomplishment — for the first time since 2018, Cal has entered a national poll ranking, as it holds the 25th spot in d1softball.com’s rankings.
After taking down the second-ranked team in the Pac-12 in Utah, the Bears reached a 24-9-1 season record, 6-5-1 in Pac-12 play. Now 34 games into the season, the blue and gold are still yet to reach double-digit losses, a mark that was reached 30 games into last year’s campaign.
Before it takes a brief Pac-12 intermission, Cal must face another immediate challenge against the third-ranked Pac-12 team, Washington.
A series against No. 13 Washington may be just what Cal needs to appear in ESPN’s top 25 rankings this season. A series win will make it three straight for the blue and gold.
It is also worth noting that the Huskies will be the third top-25 team that the Bears have faced this season. Cal made noise as it claimed a win against both of its previous top-25 matchups.
The 26-8 Huskies dropped their last series, losing two of their three games against Arizona State, but they have maintained a strong 6-1 record at Husky Softball Stadium, where the Bears will be visiting.
Despite the Huskies’ success in defending their home field all season, the Bears have also thrived on the road, managing a record of 6-2-1.
A history of struggles has the Bears trailing 26-34 in their head-to-head matchups since 2000 against the Huskies. In March 2022, Cal finished on top 6-5, snapping a five-year, 13-game losing streak to the Huskies that began in 2017.
The blue and gold will look to continue their recent home run surge from this week’s Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Week, Elon Butler, and team home run leader, Makena Smith.In just 12 games against Pac-12 opponents, the Bears have hit 15 home runs, with two from Butler and four from Smith.
Smith has been highlighted throughout the entirety of the season, as the senior is on pace to record career-high numbers in all major hitting categories. She is two home runs, 21 hits, four runs and 10 RBIs shy of tying her career highs, all of which were set last season.
Smith’s 11 home runs tie her for second place in the Pac-12 for most home runs, trailing by just three to the first place spot.
Washington will be keen to neutralize Smith, and it is led by pitcher Ruby Meylan, who is second in the Pac-12 in strikeouts and holds an ERA of 1.76 on the season.
Cal will enter this matchup with slightly more momentum, winning four of its last six games, while Washington is coming off back-to-back losses to Arizona State, an opponent that Cal beat twice.
Both teams know how to bring runners home and have been neck-and-neck all season on the offensive side. But the Huskies have shown that they are the better defensive team, allowing fewer home runs, fewer hits, fewer runs, a lower ERA and more strikeouts.
Look for a low-scoring, defensive battle between the two teams for the upcoming three-game series.