Feb. 3, 2004
Berkeley, Calif. -
THIS WEEK: Wednesday, Feb. 4., San Jose State
San Jose State Field, San Jose, CA 12:00 p.m. (DH)
WHAT'S ON TAP: The No. 2 ranked California softball team continues its early non-conference schedule, when it travels to San Jose State Wednesday, Feb. 4 for a double header. For the Spartans, this marks the second consecutive year that they are opening their season against Cal. The Bears return to San Jose on March 12 when they start competition in the NIST Tournament.
VERSUS SAN JOSE STATE: Cal holds a career 39-5 advantage over San Jose State. Last season the teams met twice, with the Golden Bears winning 3-1 on Jan. 31 and 9-0 on Feb. 1. Kelly Anderson got the win in the opener, pitching seven innings of three-hit ball.
AFTER FOUR GAMES...: Cal didn't wait very long to start filling up its stat sheet. The Bears collectively hit .383 against their first two opponents and posted an ERA of 0.78. Another glaring statistic, which may become a trend, is Cal's propensity to take extra bases. Diane Ninemire's squad swiped six bases in eight attempts, while limiting their opponents to one steal in seven attempts. Make no mistake, this lineup is fast and smart on the bases. Seven different players attempted steals over the first four games. Chelsea Spencer was the offensive catalyst last weekend. Looking extremely comfortable in the fifth spot, Spencer is hitting .571 with a team leading 6 RBI and 6 runs scored, including one opposite field bomb that left Levine-Fricke Stadium. Sophomore Kristina Thorson looked overpowering at times, striking out over a batter per inning (13 K / 11 IP), and combined with the steady Anderson, gives Ninemire a terrific twosome.
ROAD WARRIORS: With their season opening doubleheader in the rearview mirror, the Bears say goodbye to Levine-Fricke Field for the foreseeable future. Bringing a new definition to the term "road warriors", Cal will spend the majority of the next two months on the road - the Golden Bears only home date over that span is against Wisconsin on March 16 at 2 p.m. Cal kicks off the first of ten home Pac-10 dates 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, released on Jan. 28, picked the Golden Bears No. 3, behind Pac-10 rivals UCLA and Arizona.
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 welcomes five newcomers. Anchoring the team's starting rotation for the second consecutive year, is junior Anderson. Anderson emerged last year as the durable ace of coach 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 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.