BERKELEY, Calif. -- California wraps up its 2014 regular-season road schedule at Pac-12 opponent Utah. All games will be held at Utah Softball Stadium with the series opener scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday. The Bears and Utes also meet Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m.
ALL BASES COVERED The entire series against Utah will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks with Krista Blunk and Teri Goldberg on the call. For more coverage of this weekend’s games, follow @CalSoftball on Twitter for in-game updates and view live stats at UtahUtes.com
SCOUTING UTAH The Utes are batting .306 overall and .264 in Pac-12 play, but like Cal have suffered through a relatively young pitching staff. On the overall offensive side, Kate Dickman has a .399 batting average plus 17 extra-base hits and 48 runs plus 36 RBI. Anissa Urtez (.325) has driven in 45 runs and scored 34 of her own with a team-leading six homers and 13 more extra-base hits. Kayce Nieto has an 11-11 record and 5.19 ERA in 33 appearances at pitcher for the Utes, while Sammy Cordova trails slightly behind with an 8-8 record but a 4.96 ERA in 31 appearances. Utah’s defense leads both the Pac-12 conference and the nation in double players per game, as the Utes have converted 40 double plays through 47 games.
LAST TIME OUT No. 2 UCLA swept Cal in Berkeley. The Bears got off to a rough start with an 11-1, run-rule loss to the Bruins but kept the remaining two games close. Cal lost 9-7 in the second game of a doubleheader, then lost 3-2 in a defensive battle during the Sunday finale.
WHO TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND After facing top 10-ranked opponents for four weekends in a row, Cal’s batting average has dropped off slightly to .293. Pacing her team in nearly every offensive category is Cheyenne Cordes. The junior’s resume is highlighted by a .420 batting average, 13 home runs and 13 doubles. Danielle Henderson, Kylie Reed and Breana Kostreba are all batting above .300 and join Cordes at the top of the order. Utah’s high altitude could easily benefit Cal’s powerful offense, with eight different players hitting home runs in 2014 so far. The Bears are relying heavily on Stephanie Trzcinski (8-11) in the circle. The freshman now leads the team with 99.1 innings pitched and 83 strikeouts. Nisa Ontiveros (9-8, 3.92 ERA), Katie Sutherland-Finch (6-4, 6.48 ERA) and Taylor Cotton (8.47 ERA, 12 appearances) all saw action last weekend against No. 2 UCLA.
DUE UP The Bears return home to host the Pac-12 finale against Washington. The series begins on Thursday, May 8 at 3 p.m. and continues through Saturday. After the series, Cal awaits its postseason fate. The 2014 NCAA Division I Softball Championship bracket will be announced Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 7 p.m. PT on ESPNU.
JUNIOR JUGGERNAUTS This season, Cal’s starting core of juniors -- Cheyenne Cordes, Danielle Henderson and Breana Kostreba -- have combined for a whopping 58 of Cal’s 97 extra-base hits, or roughly 60 percent. Based on extra-base hits alone (not counting singles), those three members of the junior class are responsible for 22 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 all three of Cal’s shutout wins with a career high of 11 strikeouts.
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 -- batting average (.420), runs (43), hits (58), doubles (13), home runs (13), RBI (37) and slugging percentage (.812). The junior also held a team leading 14-game hit streak.
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