BERKELEY -- With four ranked opponents on the docket this weekend, the Bears are ready for a challenging slate at the nation’s top tournament, the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. The action gets underway Friday at 12:30 p.m. against Texas A&M and continues Saturday with a twin bill vs. Notre Dame at noon and Baylor at 3 p.m. Cal finishes the weekend against Texas on Sunday morning at 9. All four teams earned a berth in the 2013 NCAA Softball Tournament, with Texas advancing as far as the Women’s College World Series, Texas A&M losing to eventual champion Oklahoma in Super Regionals, and Baylor and Notre Dame losing in their Regional brackets.
ALL BASES COVERED For complete coverage of this weekend’s games, follow @CalSoftball on Twitter for in-game updates, and access live stats via CalBears.com.
WHO TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND The Bears are batting a solid .321 as a team with freshman Alleah Laxamana atop the charts with a .462 batting average in five appearances. Sophomore Danielle Henderson leads the team with four homers and a .448 clip after starting all nine games at third base, and senior Victoria Jones owns a team-leading 11 RBI and is batting .423. Freshman Kylie Reed rounds out the quartet of Bears batting above .400 with a .405 average. Cal’s young pitching staff continues to search for its identity behind sophomore Nisa Ontiveros and freshman Katie Sutherland-Finch, who lead the team with a combined 48 innings pitched and 35 strikeouts. Ontiveros owns a 2.30 ERA with a 3-1 record while holding opponents to a .258 batting average. Sutherland-Finch is allowing 2.66 earned runs with an unblemished 2-0 record and .224 opponent batting average.
LAST TIME OUT The Bears went 2-3 at the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego, dropping games to San Diego State, Texas State and St. Mary’s but beating South Dakota and Cal State Fullerton as opponents outscored Cal 22-19. Still, Cal outhit opponents 42-39 and junior Danielle Henderson strung together an impressive showing at the plate, hitting all three of Cal’s home runs at the tourney. In total, Henderson was responsible for 11 of Cal’s 22 extra bases through the five games. Henderson finished the weekend with an impressive .438 batting clip (7-for-16), five runs and a team-leading 1.125 slugging percentage and eight RBI.
• All four of Cal’s opponents at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic are ranked in the top 25 in both the ASA/USA Softball poll and the NFCA poll.
• Cal is a combined 20-17 against its Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic opponents: Texas A&M (5-11), Texas (4-3), Baylor (7-2), Notre Dame (4-1)
• Baylor’s Lady Bears are the team the Golden Bears faced most recently, as Cal took a 3-0 win at the Hawaii Spring Fling last season. The Golden Bears also met both Texas A&M and Texas in Hawaii in 2012, while the team has not seen a challenge with the Fighting Irish since 2008.
SCOUTING NO. 12/16 TEXAS A&M No. 12/16 Texas A&M enters the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic 9-2, after sweeping five games in the UC Santa Barbara Gaucho Classic, defeating Sam Houston State on the road, and winning three-of-five in their own Aggie Classic this past weekend. As a whole, the Aggies are batting .348, paced by Nicole Morgan’s .457 average, four home runs, two doubles and 18 RBI. Three other Aggies are batting .400 or better, including April Ryan’s team-leading 13 runs scored. Katie Marks is a perfect 3-0 in the circle with a 2.13 ERA over 23.0 innings, striking out 11 and holding opponents to a .262 average.
SCOUTING NO. 24 NOTRE DAME The No. 24 Fighting Irish enter the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic 6-1, after finishing 3-1 at the Auburn Plainsman Invitational and sweeping three games at the Jacksonville University Tournament. As a whole, Notre Dame is batting .354, paced by Megan Sorlie’s .538 average. Emilee Koerner leads the Fighting Irish with four homers, nine runs scored, and 11 RBI. Allie Rhodes is a perfect 3-0 in the circle with a 0.50 ERA over 14.0 innings pitched, striking out 16 and holding batters to a .064 average.
SCOUTING NO. 15 BAYLOR The No. 15 Baylor Bears have started the season 8-2, after finishing the Sportco Kick-Off Classic 4-1 and claiming the Getterman Classic title with a 4-1 record. As a whole, the Bears own a .336 average, paced by Clare Hosack’s .478 average, four doubles, and nine RBI. Kaitly Thumann leads Baylor with nine runs scored, while Jorda Strickland has contributed three homers and 9 RBI. Whitney Canion has made six starts with 4-2 record and 1.73 ERA over 36.1 innings pitched, striking out 43 batters.
SCOUTING NO. 25 TEXAS The No. 25 Texas Longhorns have started the season 6-6, after finishing the Louisiana Classic 4-1, dropping their home opener to the UTSA Roadrunners, and finishing their own Texas Invitational 2-3. The Longhorns are batting .329 as a whole, paced by Stephanie Wong’s .500 average. Lindsey Stephens leads Texas with 4 homers, two doubles, 10 runs scored and 13 RBI. Gabby Smith has made four starts for the Longhorns with a 3-1 record and a 2.24 ERA. Over 25.0 innings, Smith has struck out 14 batters and held opponents to a .182 average. Tiarra Davis leads the Longhorns pitching staff with eight appearances (three starts), in which she has struck out 30 batters and held opponents to just a .163 average.
DUE UP Cal is set for five games next week, starting with its first midweek tilt of the season on Wednesday, Feb. 26 in Stockton to take on Pacific at 4 p.m. The Golden Bears will stay on the road and head to Riverside for the Mizuno Invitational featuring a pair of games vs. Loyola Chicago and games against Sacred Heart and UC Riverside.
IN THE POLLS After a 2-3 weekend at the Campbell/Cartier Classic, the Bears dropped out of the top 25 polls but were still receiving votes in both polls. The Bears are eighth in the Pac-12 with a .556 win percentage. Five of the nine teams remain undefeated – Stanford, Arizona State, UCLA, Washington and Arizona.
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