May 30, 2004
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - It took two games to get there, but the Bears were able to secure their third-consecutive appearance in the Women's College World Series national championship game Sunday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium with a 4-1 win over LSU in the day's second game against the Tigers. California fell to LSU, 4-1, in the first of what would become two semifinal games between the Bears and Tigers earlier in the afternoon.
LSU snapped a 14-game winning streak by Cal extending back to a May 1 win at ASU, 6-0, and a six-game winning streak in this postseason. Senior P Kristin Schmidt (38-6) threw 122 pitches against the Bears in the win for LSU (including the Tigers' earlier game Sunday against Florida State, a 2-1 win, Schmidt had thrown 237 pitches Sunday heading into her second game against Cal). Forcing a second semifinal game constitutes the Tigers' best showing in WCWS play all-time. Schmidt threw 122 pitches in her second game against the Bears for a one-day total of 359. Freshman P Emily Turner came in to relieve Schmidt in the top of the seventh.
California will play for the NCAA Division I Softball national championship on Monday, May 31, at 7 p.m. CT in an ESPN televised contest with the UCLA Bruins. Cal is 1-2 versus UCLA this season and 15-65 all-time against the Bruins including a 1-2 mark in the postseason. UCLA will be the home team for Monday's championship. Cal and UCLA faced off in the championship game last year, with the Bruins winning 1-0 in nine innings.
CAL VERSUS LSU - THE SERIES: California had never before matched up against LSU in the postseason and didn't have much luck in the first of what would become two semifinal games Sunday in the WCWS. Cal jumped out to an early 1-0 lead but never scored again, losing 4-1. It was only the fifth loss in this years' WCWS for a team scoring first. But Cal reversed fortunes in Game 2, recapturing the lead after LSU scored first in that match. Teams scoring first are now 7-6 in the 2004 WCWS. California improved to 5-2 all-time against the Tigers and 2-2 this season. Junior P Kelly Anderson picked up the win for Cal in the second game while sophomore P Kristina Thorson took the loss in the first game. The Bears first defeated the Tigers on Valentine's Day (2/14), 5-1, at the UNLV Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev. LSU then even things up with a 6-1 win 14 days later (2/28) at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Anderson took both the win and the loss in those two meetings.
UPDATED CAL RECORDS: California improves to 18-15 in the WCWS and is now 11-3 over the past three WCWS (2002-2004). The Bears are 61-41 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
THIRD CONSECUTIVE WCWS TITLE GAME SET FOR BEARS: California is set to make its third consecutive appearance in the Women's College World Series title game this year. California enters the national championship game with a 2004 WCWS record of 3-1 and a postseason record of 7-1. In 2002, the Bears won three-straight to advance to the national championship game, defeating Arizona, 6-0, for the first NCAA Championship in program history. It was also the first NCAA Championship for any women's sport at Cal. Last year, the Bears advanced through the loser's bracket following a second-round loss to Texas, arriving in the final game 4-1, taking UCLA to nine innings before the Bruins were able to end it, 1-0.
GOLDEN BEARS PITCHING REPORT (GAME 1): Sophomore P Kristina Thorson started against LSU Sunday, making her sixth start of the postseason and third of the WCWS. Trouble would find Thorson in the form of a two-run LSU double in the top of the third and lead to a California pitching change after 2.2 innings. Coming on in relief for the second WCWS game in a row, junior P Kelly Anderson quickly forced a Tiger groundout to end the third. Anderson went on to retire five straight before giving up two singles in the fifth. Thorson (28-4) would take the loss in the first game against LSU, her first loss of the postseason as well as her first loss since a 3-1 drop to UCLA on April 25.
GOLDEN BEARS PITCHING REPORT (GAME 2): Junior P Kelly Anderson (25-8) continued in the circle for California, starting the second game against LSU, her first start in the WCWS, having relieved sophomore P Kristina Thorson twice earlier in the tournament. Anderson turned in a gritty performance against the Tigers, allowing just four hits and one run over seven innings and under immense pressure to advance the Bears into the WCWS title game. She improved her season record against LSU to 2-1 this season with the win.
GALINDO CONTINUES TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE AT THE PLATE: With her single through the left side to leadoff the first inning against LSU in Game 1, junior 3B Vicky Galindo extended her hitting streak out to 11 games. She did it again to leadoff the second game against LSU, again through the left side, extending the hitting streak out to 12 games. Another interesting note on Galindo's WCWS hitting... She has recorded a hit as the first inning leadoff batter for the Bears in three of four WCWS games (two singles and a double), having only been stopped by Oklahoma. Galindo has also been showing a propensity to hit the long ball this postseason, going yard once in regional play against Maine, once at the WCWS against Oklahoma and nearly a third against LSU in the third inning of the first game (it was caught over the wall and brought back in for the second out of the frame). There was another close call in the fifth of Game 1 when Galindo sent a foul ball over the right field fence just about five yards off the white foul pole.
JAMES DEMONSTRATES FOOT SPEED AGAINST LSU: Sophomore LF Lindsay James has been laying down expertly placed bunt singles all postseason long, not to mention the season. James used that precision bat handling to record five hits in Sunday's two games (two in Game 1 and three in Game 2). None may have been bigger than her slash bunt single in front of the plate with two outs in the top of the fifth. That started a four-run rally for the Bears to retake the lead against LSU in Game 2, 4-1. Sophomore C Haley Woods followed with a single to right field that sent the speedy James into third with time to spare. Junior CF Kaleo Eldredge then drew a walk to load the bases before junior 2B Jessica Pamanian, with a 3-2 count and two outs, drew a ball four from senior P Kristin Schmidt to walk in James, tying the game 1-1. Junior SS Chelsea Spencer seized on the moment, singling in Woods, followed by a left field single from freshman RF Alex Sutton to score Eldredge and Pamanian. It was Sutton's first hit of the WCWS and certainly one of the most important for the Bears.
HOME RUNS DON'T PHASE THORSON: Sophomore P Kristina Thorson gave up her 12th home run of the season in the top of the second inning (Game 1) when freshman LF Leslie Klein went over the right field wall (Klein's 14th of the year, a new LSU season record). It was the second home run Thorson has surrender this postseason and only the 11th game in which a batter took her yard. Cal is 6-5 in games that Thorson allowed a home run against her. Against LSU Sunday afternoon (Game 1), Thorson responded by retiring the next three batters she faced to end the inning, including one strike out. Unfortunately, trouble found Thorson again with two outs in the third, resulting in a California pitching change.
ELDREDGE HAS AN EYE FOR LSU PITCHING: Junior CF Kaleo Eldredge had a great first game against LSU, batting 3-for-3 with one RBI, singling through the left and right sides and up the middle and advanced to third, second and first bases following those at-bats. Unfortunately for Eldredge, the second game was not so kind to her at the plate, as she failed to gather a hit in that match although she did record Cal's third run of the four-run fifth inning (she reached base on a walk).
QUICK NOTES AND OTHER WCWS MUSINGS:
* LSU dropped to 5-4 all-time in WCWS play with the elimination loss to the Bears.
* California's four runs were made possible by a trio of Bears that entered the game with only three hits and two RBIs combined. Freshman RF Alex Sutton was 0-for-8 entering tonight's final game but delivered three hits and two RBIs in Cal's win. Junior SS Chelsea Spencer was 0-for-7 entering the game but came through with an RBI single. Also, junior 2B Jessica Pamanian, who was 3-for-9 with two RBIs entering the contest, registered two hits tonight and drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game.
* LSU senior ace Kristin Schmidt continued her stellar pitching in this year's tournament with four more strikeouts against Cal in the nightcap. She leads all pitchers in the WCWS with 44 strikeouts. This season against Cal, Schmidt posted a 2-2 record and fanned 21 batters. Freshman P Emily Turner relieved Schmidt with two outs in the seventh inning, marking the only time that an LSU pitcher was on the mound besides Schmidt in the WCWS.
* Junior 3B Vicky Galindo extended her hitting streak to 12 games after she singled in the first inning. She went 4-for-7 over two games tonight and drew a walk. Galindo is now 7-for-14 with an RBI in four WCWS games.
* Sunday's loss for LSU marked the first time this season that the Tigers scored first and lost (they were 45-0).
* Sunday's second meeting of the day between LSU and California was just the sixth "if necessary" game in the history of the WCWS since the championship format originated in 1994. Teams that forced the "if necessary" game are now 3-3 in those contests.
* Since 1991 (the first year of an all Pac-10 WCWS final), 11 of the last 14 championship games have featured two Pac-10 teams. In the history of the WCWS, there have only been two years (1983 and 1986) that a Pac-10 team was not represented in the championship game.
* The announced attendance of Sunday's Cal versus LSU session was 5,276.
- Go Bears!!! -