BERKELEY, Calif. – The California softball team swept Grand Canyon Thursday in a doubleheader at Levine-Fricke Field that saw the Bears win one game with a walk-off home run and another with a near-shutout. Cal beat Grand Canyon 5-4 in game one and followed with a strong 7-1 outing in game two to improve to 14-11 on the season.
Junior Breana Kostreba led the Bears to victory with her walk-off homer at the bottom of the seventh in game one, on top of three doubles between the two games for six extra bases. She finished the day 4-for-8 with two RBI. Fellow junior Cheyenne Cordes thrived in a 5-for-7 performance that included three runs, including a home run for two RBI, and counterpart Danielle Henderson also homered and drove in three runs to make it three long balls for the Bears on Thursday.
Cal looked to be in trouble in game one when the Antelopes went up 3-0 at the top of the second on an RBI single and a two-run home run, but the Bears slowly caught up using runs at the bottom of the second, fourth and fifth.
At the bottom of the second, senior Ashley Decker drew a leadoff walk and traversed the bases on a ground out by junior Mary Lee and a passed ball before senior LaRisa Jones keyed a single to give the Bears one run back. At the bottom of the fourth, Lee singled to left field to begin her trip on the diamond, moving each base until finally scoring on a fielding error by the Grand Canyon second baseman. At the top of the fifth, Kostreba ripped one of her three doubles of the day to right center before a pair of sacrifices involving a bunt from Decker and a sac fly from senior Jordan Wallace brought her home.
Things looked promising with a 3-3 tie entering the sixth inning, but Grand Canyon quickly regained the lead starting with a fielder’s choice for pitcher Stephanie Pesqueira followed by a double by Claire Zampini to make it 4-3, and Cal could not catch up at the bottom of the sixth.
No strangers to seventh-inning rallies after last Friday’s game at Stanford, the Bears came back to bat at the bottom of the seventh ready to fight. Senior Victoria Jones led the team off with a four-pitch walk before Kostreba went lights-out with a bomb to left field for the walk-off win.
Cal finished with nine hits and sophomore Nisa Ontiveros (8-5) claimed the win for 5.1 innings of work, allowing seven of Grand Canyon’s 10 hites while giving up only one run with two strikeouts and no walks. Freshman Katie Sutherland-Finch started the game, adding 1.2 innings to her record and giving up three hits and three runs, while Pesqueira (4-7) earned the loss for allowing three earned runs and four walks with three struck out.
In contrast to the first game, Cal’s second win in the doubleheader featured a dominating performance by both the offense, who outhit the Antelopes 9-6, and the Cal defense at the helm of Freshman Stephanie Trzcinski, who tossed a career-high seven strikeouts. Trzcinski gave up just one run – a zinger at the top of the seventh – and two free bases.
Cal’s balance offense scored runs in the first, third, fourth and sixth innings, starting things off right with a two-run home run from Henderson that also scored freshman Kylie Reed.
At the bottom of the third, Cordes led off with a single to left field and moved to third on a pair of ground balls before V. Jones singled to left field to bring her home.
Three runs came across for the Bears at the bottom of the fourth. Decker drew her second walk of the day, hustling to second on a wild pitch and then third on a sac bunt from sophomore Jasmin Mejia. Freshman Alleah Laxamana joined Decker on the diamond with a walk, and then stole second. A ground out by L. Jones allowed Decker to score and then the Bears added another two runs with a right-field long ball by Cordes, pushing the score to 6-0.
Cordes came up big again at the bottom of the sixth with a base hit up the middle to put her at first before Henderson ripped a double to center field and sent her home.
Cal is set for four more games this week, including another two against Grand Canyon, at the Santa Clara M.rriott Round Robin. The tournament begins Friday at 6 p.m. against Grand Canyon.
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