BERKELEY -- Cal faces another tough test this weekend as the ninth-ranked Arizona Wildcats head to Berkeley looking to upend the Bears on Levine-Fricke Field. First pitch for the opening game is set for Friday at 3 p.m., followed by games on Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at noon.
ALL BASES COVERED Friday’s and Sunday’s games in this weekend’s conference series will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks, with Krista Blunk and Tammy Blackburn on the call. For more coverage of the game, follow @CalSoftball on Twitter for in-game updates. Live stats will be available at CalBears.com
SCOUTING ARIZONA Arizona sits at or near the top of nearly every offensive category in both the Pac-12 and the NCAA, leading the nation in batting average (.356) and home runs (65). The Wildcats have three regular starters batting above .400 in Kelsey Rodriguez (.434), Kellie Fox (.423) and Hallie Wilson (.402), with another five batting .322 or better. Chelsea Goodacre (.327) ranks second in the nation for home runs with 15, and Arizona has hit nine grand slams in 2014, with five coming in the last 11 games. In the circle, Wildcat pitchers are holding opponents to a 1.94 ERA. Estela Pinon is 11-5 with a 1.97 ERA in 88.2 innings with 81 strikeouts, and Kenzie Fowler is 7-3 with a 2.01 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 59.1 innings.
LAST TIME OUT On Wednesday, Cal traveled to Moraga, Calif., where the Gaels handed the Bears their second loss to St. Mary’s this season in an 8-2 defeat. It was Cal’s fourth loss in six days after a 10-game winning streak came to an end against Arizona State. The Sun Devils swept the Bears for the second consecutive year. The then-No. 7/6 Sun Devils handed the Bears a 7-2 loss on Friday and a pair of run-rule losses Saturday and Sunday, 10-2 in six innings and 10-0 in five innings.
WHO TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND Consistency is the name of the game for the Bears right now, and no Bears have been as consistent at the plate as Cheyenne Cordes, Kylie Reed and Danielle Henderson. Cordes currently leads the team with a .431 average and 31 RBIs, topped off by nine homers and nine doubles. Henderson is slugging .728 with 10 long balls on the season, plus 29 RBI for a .379 batting average, and Reed leads the team in hits with 50 in 126 at bats and just two strikeouts. Cal’s pitching staff is again searching for some consistency against the big bats of the Pac-12, and Nisa Ontiveros leads the charge with a 3.61 ERA and 9-6 record in 83.1 innings. Stephanie Trzcinski (5-6), who led the team in ERA after two shutouts and a no-hitter entering last weekend’s ASU series, will seek to get her 3.81 ERA back on track. At 47 strikeouts, Trzcinski is just two shy of tying Katie Sutherland-Finch’s (4.75 ERA, 6-3 record) team-leading 49 Ks.
DUE UP Cal hosts Santa Clara on Tuesday, April 15 at 3 p.m. on Levine-Fricke Field before traveling to the Beaver State for the second time in less than a month. The Bears are hoping for better weather than in their previous jaunt to Oregon when the Bears take on the Ducks from Thursday, April 17 to Saturday, April 19.
JUNIORS JAMMIN’ This season, Cal’s starting core of juniors -- Cheyenne Cordes, Danielle Henderson and Breana Kostreba -- have combined for a whopping 45 of Cal’s 76 extra-base hits, or roughly 59 percent. Based on extra-base hits alone (not counting singles), the junior class is responsible for 21 percent of Cal’s total bases in 2014.
SENIORS EARN THEIR STARTS Prior to this season, Victoria Jones was the only Golden Bear to regularly start nearly every game in her four-year career. But 2014 has seen head coach Diane Ninemire lean heavily on her veterans, with each of the five seniors earning multiple starts this season. The most notable difference has been with LaRisa Jones, who started just five games prior to her senior season and has now started nearly every game in left field for the Bears. Alex Robben is also finding success. After tallying just five hits in her first two seasons with the Bears, she has already registered eight this season, including both her first and second career doubles.
THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER Freshman Stephanie Trzcinski, who just joined the Bears in January, is already turning heads for her pitching performances in the circle. Despite getting off to an 0-3 start, Trzcinski has since steadily improved and threw her first collegiate no-hitter against Princeton. It was the first California no-hitter since Jolene Henderson’s no-no against Valparaiso at the 2013 NCAA Ann Arbor Regional. Trzcinski also owns both of Cal’s shutout wins and leads the team in ERA.
UH OH, OCHO Henderson has become a household name to collegiate softball fans in the country, thanks in part to former Cal ace Jolene Henderson, the winningest pitcher in Golden Bear history. But also making waves in the program record books is little sis Danielle Henderson, who currently ranks fifth for career home runs with 37. She is just five long balls away from tying 2013 graduate and Team USA player Lindsey Ziegenhirt’s 42, and 18 away from tying home run leader Veronica Nelson.
CHEYENNE-ING STAR Leadoff batter Cheyenne Cordes has improved every single year for the Bears, and this year has been no different. Cordes currently leads the team in a myriad of categories, including batting average (.431), doubles (9) and runs scored (34). The junior held a team leading 14-game hit streak until Cal’s recent game against Pacific.
TWEET, LIKE, REPEAT Join the Bears in the social media realm for a behind-the-scenes look at the team all season long. Follow along with in-game scoring updates, exclusive photos, interviews and more at: Facebook: www.Facebook.com/CalSoftball Twitter: @CalSoftball Instagram: @CalSoftball YouTube: www.YouTube.com/CalSoftball