Feb. 24, 2013
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - It was a gritty defensive battle between No. 8 California (11-2) and Nebraska (11-4), but the Golden Bears produced the only run of the game to scrape out a win Sunday at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs.
Together the teams tallied just six hits and left four runners on base each. Though Cal produced only four hits, the Bears capitalized on their biggest hit of the day - a double from freshman Vanessa Alvarez - to score the only run of the game. The score came at the bottom of the third, when Alvarez hit a leadoff double and came around the bases on fly outs by freshman Khala Taylor and sophomore Cheyenne Cordes.
"Our team is answering to pressure situations. These close games are making us tougher and building our confidence so when we're in close games we're not panicking. Instead, we're getting the key out, key play or key hit when we need to so we can sustain a victory," said California head coach Diane Ninemire.
The real battle took place between pitchers. Nebraska freshman ace Emily Lockman, who tossed her first no-hitter against Utah State last weekend, rendered the Bears hitless nearly half of the game as Cal went three-up, three-down in three innings. Senior Jolene Henderson was even more effective, pitching one-two-three in four innings while striking out five batters for her fifth shutout of the season. Henderson is now throwing with 1.19 ERA for the season.
"Jolene threw a great game. She kept the batters off balance and shut the game down with a big out with a runner at third and a full count with two outs," Ninemire said. "Those are the plays this team needs to see. We're going to have tight games and need to know that we can come through defensively with those types of plays."
The Golden Bears finished the weekend with four wins added to their record to bring the team's win total to 11. The team recorded 17 runs off of 30 hits while limiting opponents to a .141 batting average with just two runs and 13 hits.
"Our chemistry is starting to come together well as a team. We're gelling and starting to understand what the game is asking us to do," Ninemire said.
The Bears continue life on the road with four games packed into two days at the Demarini Invitational in Fullerton. California will face Northwestern (9 a.m.) and Cal Poly (1:30 p.m.) on Friday, followed by Indiana (9 a.m.) and Wisconsin (11:15 a.m.) on Saturday.
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