Cal’s schedule doesn’t get any easier as it matches with a set of two teams over .500 in the 21-12 Sacramento State Hornets and the 19-18 UNLV Rebels.
The Bears’ time in the top 25 was short-lived as a run differential of -17 led to a series sweep on the road by the No. 10 Washington Huskies.
The Pac-12 doesn’t host any favorable matchups as all but one team has reached the 20-win mark up to this point in the season. However, a three-game losing streak to a conference opponent dropped the Bears back down to the fifth seed in the Pac-12, sitting just under .500 at a 6-8-1 conference record.
The Bears roll back into action Tuesday on a quick turnaround week. Cal will face fellow Northern California team Sacramento State in a short one-game visit to Shea Stadium.
The Hornets have been flying through their schedule, emerging victorious in seven of their last eight outings. In those last eight games, the Hornets have pitched four shutouts, allowing 10 total runs, while managing to bring in 39 runs.
On the flip side, the Bears haven’t been able to surpass a two-game winning streak in over five weeks of action — the latest of which being the matchup against UC Davis.
Over their last 16 games, Cal has batted under .200 in four games but has been over .300 in just two. However, despite the recent struggles, Cal still sits at a very respectable 24-12-1 record on the season. Hoping to escape unscathed from a Hornets stinging, the Bears will try to regain confidence and get back to their winning ways.
Playing in a conference that currently holds five teams ranked in D1Softball.com’s top-25 list speaks volumes about the level of competition the Bears have faced compared to Sacramento State.
The Hornets play in the Big Sky Conference, home to zero top-25 teams and just one 20-win team, which happens to be Sacramento State. As a matter of fact, the Hornets are the only team in that conference to hold a winning record, the next closest being Portland State at 13-18.
A history of domination against Sacramento State, 19-3 since 2002, should not determine the outcome of the upcoming game. In softball, a team that hits a groove and has built momentum is a dangerous play, regardless of record and conference. Currently, both teams are sitting well above .500, and given that the Hornets have won two straight games against the Bears, it should be an exciting game between the two ball clubs.
Following the game against Sacramento State, Las Vegas will be waiting to host the last of a seven-game road trip for the Bears before heading back home to Levine-Fricke Field where they will face Santa Clara.
This will be Cal’s first matchup against the UNLV Rebels since 2015, when the blue and gold saw a decisive victory, 9-1.
The two teams do not face each other often, only seven games since 1999, so there is much to be desired from both sides. It’ll provide a refresher for Cal as the Bears look to get their legs back under them again before returning to Pac-12 play shortly thereafter.
This would mark Cal’s third matchup against a team from the Mountain West Conference. Early season wins against Utah State and Fresno State will now task Cal to go undefeated against the Mountain West.
With the second half of the season already well underway, these games against nonconference opponents will provide a lot of strides heading into the final three series against Pac-12 opponents — making a push to claim a top-three finish in the conference.