A few days ago, Cal was riding a five-game winning streak after cruising past nonconference opponents Sacramento State and UNLV.
Following a series against their arch-rival, the Stanford Cardinal, the Bears leave Palo Alto winners of just one of three tightly-contested games.
“We were so excited for the series. It meant a lot just because it’s Stanford,” said pitcher Haylei Archer.
Cal lost the Friday opener 2-1. The game reached eight innings when Stanford won on a controversial, overturned call at the plate — ruling the Cardinal’s Aly Kaneshiro safe for a walk-off victory.
Tatum Anzaldo posted the lone RBI for the blue and gold, while Archer was given the loss. However, Archer’s efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed, considering she pitched a season-high 7.2 innings and threw more than 130 pitches.
Saturday’s game two went in the Bears’ favor, with a 3-2 victory over Stanford.
Cal’s Elon Butler carried the offense, earning three hits for two RBIs. The freshman from San Jose has turned a corner during Pac-12 play, producing 15 hits in her last 14 games.
Anna Reimers was also electric in the circle for the blue and gold, where she tossed a complete game, allowing only two runs. She improved to a team-best 9-2 on the season after her fourth consecutive win.
Reimers has made a real name for herself in Cal’s pitching rotation. Her ERA has decreased from 4.98 in 2022 to 2.81 in 2023, and she’s also allowed only five home runs this season, one fewer than she did in 15 fewer appearances last season.
The Bears can count on the sophomore pitcher to be reliable for future years.
Sunday’s matinee was the same score but favored the crimson and white. Makena Smith had an RBI in the effort, alongside hits from Anzaldo, Kennedy Thomas and Diamond Holland, but it wasn’t enough.
Archer had another excellent performance, but her 2-1 lead was lost after a pitching change in the sixth inning.
After Stanford earned some walks and a sacrifice fly to take the lead, Cal couldn’t pull off the comeback in the top half of the seventh.
Although Stanford won the series, the Bears should be optimistic about their play. The blue and gold competed well against the eighth-best team in the country, again proving that the team can hang with the best.
“They’re ranked, and we almost had them twice,” Archer said. “We deserve to be in the position we are in right now. So, there’s nothing to hang our heads about. Even though we didn’t win the series, we can achieve our goals and make a run in the postseason.”
Cal now sits at 30-14-1 and Stanford at 34-10. Although the teams have similar play styles and records, the Bears remained unranked for reasons only ranking officials understand.
However, the blue and gold reaching 30 wins is a milestone. The team has reached the mark for the first time since finishing 35-21 in 2018. To surpass the older Bears in 2023, Cal must finish the season at least 6-1.
The blue and gold can pull off the feat, considering it’s in the clear of ranked opponents to close the year: Saint Mary’s, Oregon and Arizona make up the team’s remaining foes.
Archer believes that Cal needs to stay focused to get the results it wants.
“Rebuilding this Cal softball program is our overarching goal,” Archer said.
She added that having “discipline and working hard, whether we win or we lose” is most crucial to a happy ending to the Bears’ season.