BERKELEY -- The California softball squad heads back to the Beaver State for the second time in less than a month for a tangle with Oregon’s top-ranked Ducks. The Ducks are the unanimous No. 1 in both polls, receiving every single first place vote. The series begins Thursday at 4 p.m. and continues Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at noon.
ALL BASES COVERED The first two games of Cal’s series with Oregon will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks, with Ann Schatz and Amanda Freed 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 OREGON Oregon is batting a strong .344 as a team and is well-deserving of its No. 1 ranking, with nine players batting .300 or better. Leading the Ducks is Courtney Ceo with a .481 average and team-leading 65 hits. Alexa Paterson leads her team with 44 RBI, and Kailee Cuico is a major threat at the plate with 12 home runs and a .306 average. Despite the departure of Jessica Moore last season, the Ducks are still in good shape in the circle thanks to Cheridan Hawkins and her 1.39 ERA and 22-3 record with 210 strikeouts and only eight home runs allowed. Backing her up is Karissa Hovinga (2.05 ERA, 11-1) and Jasmine Smithson-Willett (2.85, 4-1). The Oregon pitching staff is holding batters to a .211 average.
LAST TIME OUT Cal took a much-needed win over Santa Clara at home, 4-3, rallying in the sixth inning to score three runs after falling behind 3-1. The Bears were also able to take one win from ninth-ranked Arizona in Berkeley last weekend, defeating the Wildcats 9-1 in six innings. Arizona won the series with a pair of 15-5 and 7-2 wins.
WHO TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND Nearly 40 games into the season, Cheyenne Cordes is still batting at a strong 400-plus mark with a .431 average in the leadoff spot and team-leading 11 doubles and 11 home runs. She tops the home run charts along with Danielle Henderson’s 11 homers. Henderson is batting .373 and is among the Pac-12 leaders for walks in 2014 with 34 to date. Kylie Reed has 53 hits and a .376 average with just five strikeouts. Cal’s pitching staff collectively owns a 4.49 ERA, with Nisa Ontiveros (3.70 ERA, 9-7, 89 innings), Stephanie Trzcinski (3.87 ERA, 7-7, 72.1 innings) and Katie Sutherland-Finch (5.37 ERA, 6-3, 74.1) all splitting nearly equal time in the circle.
DUE UP The Bears play their final non-conference opponent Wednesday when they host Sacramento State at 4:30 p.m. On Friday, Cal continues a four-game homestand by hosting UCLA at 3 p.m. The Bears and Bruins also meet at 1 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. Sunday’s game will be Cal’s annual Friends of Jaclyn/Bears for Bebe day in honor of adopted teammate Barbara “Bebe” Wiggs.
JUNIORS JAMMIN’ This season, Cal’s starting core of juniors -- Cheyenne Cordes, Danielle Henderson and Breana Kostreba -- have combined for a whopping 50 of Cal’s 84 extra-base hits, or roughly 60 percent. Based on extra-base hits alone (not counting singles), the junior class is responsible for 36 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 38. She is just four long balls away from tying 2013 graduate and Team USA player Lindsey Ziegenhirt’s 42, and 17 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 (11) and runs scored (39). 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