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Bears roll into inaugural Pac-12 Softball tournament, set to play Utah

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MAY 10, 2023

After rounding out its last series of the season against Arizona, Cal ends with a 33-18-1 record — its best since 2018.   

“Thirty wins were one of our goals at the beginning of the year, … just keep pushing through 30, not settling for just one goal,” said junior Tatum Anzaldo.

Securing two games on the road in their series against Arizona prompted the Bears to a 9-14-1 conference record, the best since their 2016 campaign, and Cal ultimately clinched the sixth seed in the Pac-12.

The Bears will now prepare for what will be the first-ever Pac-12 Softball Tournament. Fortunately for the Bears, they won’t need to pack their bags as the tournament is set to be hosted at Arizona’s Hillenbrand Stadium in Tucson, Arizona. 

The tournament will slate eight single-elimination games over four days, from May 10 to May 13.

The Bears open their tournament play on Thursday, May 11 against the third-ranked team in the Pac-12, the Utah Utes. Cal defeated Utah twice in their three-game season series earlier in the year with scores of 5-1 and 5-4. 

“Coach (Chelsea Spencer) really hammers in the fact that we want to be playing our best softball getting ready to go into the postseason, and I think that’s where we’re at right now,” Anzaldo said. “I’m just excited to play some of the best ball with some of the best players in the world.”

Anzaldo, a Southern California local and first baseman for the Bears, is a staple piece on both sides and shows the likes of fellow Southern California local and All-Star first baseman, Freddie Freeman. Anzaldo may not be as tall as the 6’5” major league All-Star, but her play is identical — a first baseman with great body control and glove around the bag, who also poses a major threat to getting on base.

The Utes also had themselves a 30-win season, compiling a 34-13 record, 15-9 in conference play. Moreover, the Utes look to use their quickness to their advantage as they lead the Pac-12 in stolen bases, allowing them to set up runners in scoring position — subsequently ranking them fourth in total runs scored.

Utah holds great all-around value, not having any glaring weaknesses. It ranks third in hits (422) while also having the least number of batters struck out (157). However, the blue and gold match up quite well as they have the fourth-most hits (419) and third-most runs (289) and top the rankings with home runs hit (67).

Anzaldo mentioned having the opportunity to play with “some of the best players in the world,” and her counterpart, Makena Smith, has been nothing short of excellent all season. They truly make for one of the more electric duos in the Pac-12 as Anzaldo brings the “swagger” and Smith brings the energy to the Bears’ diamond.

The duo was named to the Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Team this season and hauled expectations heading into the season. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that those expectations have been surpassed. 

Anzaldo managed to tie her season career-high in home runs, supported by a .388 batting average and a .465 on-base percentage, both of which set a new milestone for the junior. Smith’s season has been filled with accomplishments and glory. From breaking records to getting drafted, Smith will look to cap off her last year with the Bears with a Pac-12 championship.

However, Anzaldo still cares to motivate her team as much as she can. 

“Wanting to get on base for my teammates gives me motivation and honestly desperation to be on base for them because I know that being on base gives hitters more confidence and more excitement to want to be up there,” Anzaldo said. “It’s more of a team thing than just a me thing.”

Fans can watch the Bears’ championship journey begin Thursday at 10 a.m. at Hillenbrand Stadium or on the Pac-12 Network.

Contact Eric Hayrapetian at 


MAY 10, 2023