March 2, 2004
Berkeley, Calif. -
THIS WEEK: Friday, Mar. 5 Portland State, Field 2, 12:00 p.m. Friday, Mar. 5 Cal State Fullerton, Field 1, 6:00 p.m. Saturday, Mar. 6 Cal State Northridge, Field 1, 12:00 noon Saturday, Mar. 6 Michigan State, Field 1, 2:00 p.m. Sunday, Mar. 7 UCSB, Field 2, 9 a.m.WHAT'S ON TAP: No. 3 California (17-2) brings the tournament's highest ranking to the Worth Softball Invitational, hosted by Cal State Fullerton, on March 5-7. Joining the Bears are No. 7 (tie) Stanford, No. 24 Cal State Fullerton and No. 25 Oregon State (USA Today/NFCA Top 25). Also among the nine-team field are Oklahoma State, UC Santa Barbara, Michigan State, Cal State Northridge and Portland State.
SCOUTING CAL'S OPPONENTS: Cal holds a 13-2 edge over Portland State, with the teams last meeting at the 2003 UNLV Tournament. In a 5-0 win, Kristina Thorson was two outs from a no-hitter in her first collegiate start. Cal State Fullerton owns the series advantage over Cal at 13-22. The teams met at last year's Worth Tournament - a 5-4 win for the Titans. Cal renews its rivalry with Cal State Northridge for the first time in over five years. The Bears hold the series edge at 9-8. Likewise, Cal has not played Michigan State since 1997 and holds a 2-1 series advantage. The Bears get a look at UCSB for the second time this season. With its 7-2 win at the UCSB Tournament Feb. 21, Cal improved its series record to 14-4 over the Gauchos.
2003 AT WORTH INVITATIONAL: Cal suffered three one-run losses to start the tournament, but rebounded in a big way in the final two games, with two shutouts. First the Bears knocked off Pacific, 7-0. Then against Minnesota, Kelly Anderson pitched her first career no-hitter, while Jessica Pamanian fueled the offense with a grand slam, for another 7-0 triumph.
BEARS BOUNCE BACK AFTER WIN STREAK SNAPPED: All good things must come to an end, and so it was with Cal's opening-season 15-game win streak. After winning its first two games against Florida Atlantic (4-1) and Ohio State (6-0) at the NFCA Classic, Cal suffered two defeats to No. 13 LSU (6-1) and No. 14 Nebraska (3-0). In the silver championship bracket, Cal went on to defeat Princeton (2-0) and No. 15 Texas (10-1) to claim the silver championship consolation title. After three and a half games of offensive frustration, the Golden Bears' bats exploded against the Longhorns, capped by Vicky Galindo's first career grand slam.
DRIVE 'EM IN: How important is hitting with runners in scoring position? It could mean the difference between winning and losing. In Cal's first two losses of the season, the Bears went 0-4 at the plate in those situations and scored a combined one run in the two games. Overall, Cal is hitting a healthy .310 (53-171) with runners in scoring position and has averaged 5.42 runs per game. And when those at bats count the most, with the bases loaded, the team is batting .444 (12-27).
GOING, GOING, GONE: Many suspected what sophomore catcher Haley Woods might do with a full season of play and she is getting her chance to prove it. Woods, who had her season cut short to 30 games because of a broken wrist last year, has already smashed five home runs this season, eclipsing the three she hit last season. This power surge is no fluke for California's clean-up hitter. Veronica Nelson holds four out of the the schools' top five power seasons, ranging from 19 to 9 home runs. As for the team as a whole, it has shown surprising power, hitting 13 round-trippers.
.400 CLUB: Nineteen games into the season, Kaleo Eldredge is the lone Golden Bear still hitting above the .400 plataeu. The left-handed hitting center fielder brings a .421 (24-57) batting average into the Worth Tournament. She also leads the team hitting .375 (9-24) with runners in scoring position. Only two Golden Bears have ever hit over .400 for a full season - Gillian Boxx (.466) in 1995 and Kendall Richards (.420) in 1994.
ACES WILD: Anderson and Thorson have formed one of the most dominant pitching duos in college softball this year. Anderson is 10-2 with a 1.06 ERA and has completed a team-high seven games. Thorson is 7-0 with a microscopic 0.35 ERA, tossing four shutouts in the process. Her 6.80 strikeouts per 7 innings is the stuff of dominance.