Jan. 27, 2004
Berkeley, Calif. -
THIS WEEK: Saturday, Jan. 31 Sacramento State
Levine-Fricke Field, Berkeley, CA 12:00 p.m. (DH)
Sunday, Feb. 1 St. Mary's
Cottrell Field, Moraga, CA 10:00 a.m. (DH)
WHAT'S ON TAP: The California softball team begins its quest to return to the national championship game for a third consecutive year, when it hosts Sacramento State for a double header on Saturday, Jan. 31 at Levine-Fricke Field. The Bears will have their bags packed, however, as they quickly hit the road on Sunday, Feb. 1 to face Bay Area rival St. Mary's in another doubleheader.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS: Coming off a remarkable season, which saw the 49-20 (10-11 Pac-10) Golden Bears reach the College World Series for the fifth straight year, Cal returns eleven players from 2003 and welcome five newcomers. Anchoring the team's starting rotation for the second consecutive year, is junior Kelly Anderson. Anderson emerged last year as the durable ace of coach Diane Ninemire's staff. Anderson got the ball for 48 out of the 52 College World Series innings and didn't disappoint, posting a 0.88 ERA over that stretch. In the infield, College World Series All-Tournament selections Vicky Galindo and Chelsea Spencer bring talent and experience to the lineup. Galindo joined the Bears last season and terrorized the base paths, racking up 19 steals. She's also the team's returning hitter, with a .324 clip in 2003. Spencer has been a rock at shortstop in her two seasons in Berkeley, starting every game. Kaleo Eldridge and Lindsay James are two rising stars in Ninemire's outfield. Eldredige posted the most RBI's in 2003 of any returnee (30) and James was an All-Pac-10 selection in her first season. The Bears lost a lot of thump in their lineup this season, but they have always been able to rely on sound defense, smart base running and situational hitting to carry the day.
VERSUS SACRAMENTO STATE AND ST. MARY'S: Cal has never lost to either of its geographical rivals. The Bears are 3-0 all-time against Sacramento State. Last season, the teams played all three meetings, the last of which Cal won 4-1 in Berkeley. The Bears are a perfect 34-0 against St. Mary's. In 2003, Cal swept a doubleheader over the Gaels in Berkeley.
ROAD WARRIORS: For those looking forward to taking in a game in at Levine-Fricke Field, this Saturday's opening double header will be the last chance for some time. Bringing a new definition to the term "road warriors", Cal takes a two- month long road trip, before returning home for its Pac-10 opener Friday, Apr. 2 against Oregon. The Bears have accepted invitations to play in tournaments from as far as Columbus, Ga. to Honolulu, Hi. Last season, Cal posted a 33-16 record away from home.
IN THE POLLS: Cal begins the 2004 season exactly where they ended the 2003 season: ranked No. 2 in the country. ESPN.com/USA Softball released their preseason poll on Jan. 15 and only placed the defending national champion UCLA Bruins ahead of the Golden Bears. On Jan. 20, the Bears were selected third in the Pac-10 preseason poll. How can a team be picked second in the country but only third in its own conference? Only in the Pac-10, which features arguably the deepest league in the country. The NFCA preseason poll will be released Wednesday, Jan. 28.
NEW FACES: Cal adds one transfer and four freshmen this season. First baseman Gwen Arafiles (San Joaquin Delta CC/Stockton, CA), second baseman/outfielder Alex Sutton (Archbishop Mitty HS/ San Jose CA), cather Shannon Harper (Lincoln HS/ Stockton CA) and first baseman Alyssa Smoke (Cascade HS/Everett, WA) join the infield. And pitcher Sarah Adams (Half Moon Bay HS/Half Moon Bay, CA) becomes the third hurler on the roster.
COME OUT TO THE BALLPARK: Admission to California softball games is free, with the exception of weekend Pac-10 games. On these select dates, prices are $5 for adults and $3 for students and children.