Feb. 17, 2004
Berkeley, Calif. -
THIS WEEK: Friday, Feb. 20 Florida International 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20 UC Santa Barbara 7:00 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 Loyola Marymount 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 Cal Poly 2:00 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22 Kansas 9:00 a.m.
WHAT'S ON TAP: The second-ranked Golden Bears (11-0) look to continue their opening season run of stellar play at the UCSB Tournament this weekend in Santa Barbara. The three-day tourney will see Cal square off against five opponents, including host UCSB.
SCOUTING CAL'S OPPONENTS: Cal has only played FIU once, last season at the Nike Blue and Gold Invitational. Kelly Anderson pitched the Bears to a 5-1 win and a tournament sweep. The Golden Bears are a career 13-4 over UCSB. Cal went deep twice against the Gauchos in the two teams' lone meeting last season for a 6-2 victory. Cal has never lost to Loyola Marymount. Holding a 3-0 series edge, the last time the Bears met the Lions resulted in a 5-0 shutout win in 2000. Cal Poly is on the Golden Bears' tournament slate for the second consecutive week. Cal defeated the Mustangs 4-1 behind two Haley Woods' home runs last Sunday to improve its series edge to 17-5. Kansas meets up with the Cal for a tournament finale, having only beaten the Bears once in the schools' nine meetings. The teams last met in 2002, where Cal secured a 1-0 win.
2002 AT UCSB TOURNEY: Taking a one-year hiatus from "Softball by the Beach" in 2003, the Golden Bears return to Santa Barbara as the 2002 champions of the event. That year, Cal was again riding high with a six-game winning streak entering the event. Freshman Cassie Bobrow pitched a perfect game in the finale against Illinois (8-0) to complete the five-game sweep.
WOODS EXPLODES AT UNLV TOURNAMENT: Cal swept over the field in Las Vegas, taking all five games and outscoring its opponents by a margin of 40-3. In addition, Cal recorded wins over its first two ranked opponents - 5-1 over No. 14 LSU and 17-0 over No. 12 DePaul. Woods had a breakout tournament carrying the Bears offensively. The sophomore catcher hit .600 (9-15) with four home runs and 17 RBI. Overshadowed by the scoring outburst, was how dominant the Bears' pitching continues to be. Anderson won her three decisions, sporting a 1.12 ERA and Kristina Thorson continues to be virtually unhittable. The sophomore hurler won her two decisions and added her first save of the season, giving up no runs over 12 1/3 innings.
BEARS RUN RAMPANT OVER THE OPPOSITION: With several big senior bats departing after 2003, pundits knew this would be a different Cal team offensively. But did they realize how different? The 2004 Golden Bears are on pace to shatter the team stolen base record of 104 set in 1979. Cal has 27 thefts this season in 31 attempts - a remarkable 87% success rate. The 2003 squad stole a modest 40 bases last season. The major culprit is Vicky Galindo with nine steals, while Kaleo Eldridge and Lindsay James each have five apiece. The single-season record for steals, held by Keri Kropke (28 in 1992) may be in serious jeopardy as well.
ACES WILD: Anderson and Thorson have thus far formed one of the most dominant pitching duos in college softball this year. Anderson is 6-0 with a 0.71 ERA and has completed a team-high five games this season. But Anderson was expected to carry the pitching staff, as she did in last year's College World Series. Thorson has emerged to complement Anderson and give coach Diane Ninemire her choice of two aces. Thorson is 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA, tossing three shutouts. Opposing hitters are hitting .144 off her and her 7.78 strikeouts per 7 innings is the stuff of dominance.
SETTING THE TABLE: Hitting 1-2-3 in the order, Galindo (.488 OBP), James (.390 OBP) and Eldredge (.488 OBP) are getting on base early and often, enabling hitters like Woods to have plenty of RBI opportunities. The trio of table setters has also combined to hit .414 (48-116) thus far.