May 28, 2012
Thursday, May 31
2:30 p.m. CT - Game Two: Cal vs. LSU
ASA Hall of Fame Stadium - Oklahoma City
Series Record Versus the Tigers - 7-2
Last Meeting With LSU - W 14-3 in Five Innings (2/19/12)
Coverage: ESPN2, ESPN3, Live Chat, GameTracker
Just the Basics
The No. 1-seeded California softball team takes on LSU on Thursday, May 31 at 2:30 p.m. CT on the opening day of the 2012 Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. The winner of that game will play the victor of game one between Oklahoma and South Florida. The Golden Bears defeated No. 16-seeded Washington 5-0 and 2-0 to win the first-ever Berkeley Super Regional and stamp their ticket for Cal's 12th WCWS. All of the games in Oklahoma City will be covered on the ESPN network.
CalBears.com To Host Live Chat for All Games
For each of Cal's games in Oklahoma City, CalBears.com will provide a live chat for fans. In the chat - in which anyone can participate for free - the Bears' communications director Anna Oleson-Wheeler will provide in-game updates, commentary, inside knowledge and more. Fans can discuss the game with fellow Blues, ask questions and more. Following the games, the live chats will be archived on CalBears.com and can be re-read at any time.
Bear Quick Hits
Jamia Reid and Valerie Arioto pace the starters, both hitting .385
Arioto is slugging .962 with a team-high 23 homers, which is one shy of tying the Cal career record
Danielle Henderson is next in line in homers with 15, while Breana Kostreba has 13
Arioto leads the Bears in RBI with 60, Jace Williams is second (47), Danielle Henderson is third (45) and Kostreba is fourth (42)
Jolene Henderson (36-2, 1.10 ERA, 255.1 IP, 304 SO, .189 b/avg.) and Arioto (20-3, 1.32 ERA, 127.0 IP, .197 b/avg.) handle the pitching
Diane Ninemire earned her 1,100th career win on April 20 - making her the 12th coach in the history of collegiate softball and sixth in Division I ball to hit the 1,100-win mark
Cal won the Pac-12 title by posting its best-ever conference record in school history at 21-3/.875
Cal is ranked first in the country in RPI and No. 1 in both polls
With the win over UW on May 27, the Bears tied the season high for single-season for wins at 56, which was first achieved in 2002 by the NCAA Title winning team
Bear NCAA Tournament Quick Hits
Cal earned the No. 1 seed, went 4-1 to win the Berkeley Regional and 2-0 to win the Berkeley Super Regional
Frani Echavarria leads Cal, hitting .500 with an .850 slugging percentage and eight RBI
Eight Bears have homered - Echavarria, Britt Vonk, Valerie Arioto, Victoria Jones, Jace Williams, Breana Kostreba, Danielle Henderson and Cheyenne Cordes
Cal has outscored its competition 42-5 and outhit the opponents 55-31 (.304-.195)
Jolene Henderson has pitched all but 0.1 innings of the postseason, posting a 0.48 ERA in 43.2 innings of work
Cal in the Postseason - a History
This marks the 27th consecutive season the Bears are playing in the postseason
Cal has advanced to the regional championship game seven times in eight years since the super regional format was adopted in 2005
Prior to this year, the Bears had not lost a regional game since 2008
Last year, Cal won the Louisville Regional and then the Lexington Super Regional
The Lexington Super Regional title was the Bears' second-ever super regional title since the format was adopted
Cal's first super regional championship came in 2005 in three games at Baylor
The Bears are 67-31 in regional games and 6-10 in super regional play
Cal is 93-61 overall in the NCAA postseason and 19-20 in the WCWS
Cal made three consecutive WCWS title game appearances from 2002-04, winning it all in 2002
The 2002 NCAA national title was the first by any women's team at Cal
Cal has appeared in nine of the last 14 WCWS and 12 overall, not including three trips to the AIAW College World Series
Last year, Cal went 1-2 in Oklahoma City, losing 1-0 to Alabama and 5-2 to Florida but beating Oklahoma State 6-2
The Bears Versus the WCWS Field
Cal played ASU, LSU, Oregon and UT this year, posting a 7-2 record against them
The Bears went 2-1 against Arizona State this year in Pac-12 play, defeating the Sun Devils twice to win the Pac-12 title
Cal posted a 2-1 record at Oregon
In the first game of the season, then-No. 3/4 Cal beat then-No. 9/14 Tennessee 13-5
The then-No. 1/3 Bears bested then-No. 25 LSU 14-3 in five innings on Feb. 19
All-time in the NCAA Tournament, Cal is 0-2 against Alabama, 5-3 versus Arizona State, 1-1 against LSU, 3-1 against Oklahoma, 0-2 versus Oregon
Cal has never played South Florida
In their last meeting, the Bears lost to the Sooners 12-1 on Feb. 20, 2010
Coaches in Oklahoma City
Head coach Diane Ninemire has been a part of every single one of Cal's 12 trips to the Women's College World Series. Ninemire was head coach for 11 of those times and an assistant coach in 1986. Volunteer assistant coach Angie Jacobs was a student-athlete on the 1986 squad that went 2-2 in the 1986 WCWS in Omaha, Neb. Last year was the first trip to the WCWS - as either a student-athlete, a fan or coach - for assistant coach Tammy Lohmann. Assistant coach John Reeves has been on the coaching staff for the past 10 trips to the WCWS.
Earlier This Year Against LSU
With an impressive, six-run first inning, the No. 1/3 California softball team cruised to a 14-3 win against No. 24 LSU on Feb. 19 at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic. Cal got incredible hitting performances from Jace Williams, Breana Kostreba, Jolene Henderson and Frani Echavarria - all of whom homered with all but Henderson's jack coming in the top of the fifth. After the Tigers put three runs on the board in the bottom of the third, the Golden Bears tacked on two more runs in the fourth. Cal posted a lofty six runs in the top of the fifth to get the mercy victory. Williams led the way with five RBI while Kostreba knocked in four. Jolene Henderson pitched the five-inning victory, allowing three earned runs on six hits while fanning five. Mack suffered the loss after giving up six earned runs in 0.2 innings on six hits and one walk. Patterson pitched the final 4.1 innings, allowing eight earned runs on six hits and five walks.
Earlier This Year Against Tennessee
The highly touted, season-starting match-up between the No. 3/4 California softball team and No. 9/14 Tennessee proved to be as thrilling as collegiate softball fans thought it would be with the Golden Bears emerging victoriously with a 13-5 win. Valerie Arioto redshirted her true senior season last year after breaking her leg on the second day of practice, and came back with a vengeance in her very first at-bat by homering to center then notching another homer later in the game. Jace Williams and Danielle Henderson also chipped in homers. Arioto had a game-high four RBI while Williams and Henderson each had two. The game began as a see-saw battle with Tennessee earning a 3-1 lead only for Cal to even the scoreboard in the top of the second. Then, down by one at 4-3, the Bears unloaded with four runs in the third and three in the fourth to take an impressive 10-4 lead. Cal tacked on three more runs in the top of the seventh. Jolene Henderson pitched the complete-game victory, allowing five runs on nine hits while fanning five. The Bears worked the Tennessee duo of Ivy Renfroe and Cheyanne Tarango for 12 earned runs. Renfroe started and pitched the end of the game for a combined total of 6.1 innings, in which she gave up eight earned runs off 10 hits with nine strikeouts. Tarango pitched what turned out to be 0.2 innings - allowing four earn runs across the six batters she faced.
The 2012 Series Against ASU
In the opening game on May 10, Cal battled back from a two-run deficit to tie the game 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth against No. 2 Arizona State before senior Valerie Arioto unleashed a two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh to defeat the Sun Devils 4-2. The Sun Devils drove in their two runs - one in the fourth and one in the sixth - off eight hits to take a 2-0 lead. The No. 1 California softball team won the inaugural Pac-12 Championship by beating No. 2 Arizona State 5-0 on May 11. Danielle Henderson drove in the first two runs and then the fifth run while Elia Reid accounted for the third and fourth runs when she singled to left. Senior player of the year award candidate Valerie Arioto pitched the complete-game victory, shutting out the Sun Devils as she struck out 11. The Bears dropped the final Pac-12 game of the year 5-0 to Arizona State on May 12 though the Golden Bears had already won the Pac-12 title the day before. Deuces was the magical word for the Sun Devils for who scored two runs with two outs in the top of the second to take a 2-0 lead. ASU tacked on three runs in the top of the seventh on five hits and one Cal error.
The 2012 Series Against Oregon
Cal broke open a 1-1 stalemate against No. 14/18 Oregon with five two-out, unearned runs in the top of the fourth as the Golden Bears captured an 8-1 win over the Ducks on April 20. Cal out hit Oregon 7-4 with Frani Echavarria doubling, Jamia Reid tripling and Jace Williams doubling and homering. In the middle game, Cal suffered its third loss of the entire season, dropping a 1-0 decision to No. 14/18 Oregon at the Ducks' Howe Field. After Friday evening's high-scoring affair that ended in an 8-1 Cal victory, Saturday's game saw the Ducks score once in the sixth to eke out the one-run win over the Bears. In the series deciding game, Cal exploded offensively to blast by No. 14/18 Oregon by a mark of 10-0. With the six-inning mercy victory, the Golden Bears took the series from the Ducks 2-1 for their fourth consecutive Pac-12 series win. After Cal posted five runs in the top of the third, three homers in the top of the sixth prevented any chance of an Oregon comeback. With her 20th homer of the season, Valerie Arioto broke her own single-season record for home runs. Cal posted those 10 runs on 11 hits. Ashley Decker led the way with three RBI thanks to her two-run homer and another hit.
Last Time Against Alabama
In game one of the 2011 Women's College World Series, it was an absolute pitcher's duel between California's Jolene Henderson and Alabama's Kelsi Dunne, with the Crimson Tide emerging victorious, 1-0. A pair of singles and steals by Alabama in the bottom of the third plated the only run of the game for either team. Dunne (28-4) pitched six complete innings with just one hit - that went to Britt Vonk - to get the win. Jackie Traina pitched the seventh inning, getting two groundouts and a strikeout, for her third save of the year. Henderson (39-9) allowed one earned run on seven hits with one walk and nine strikeouts. The Elk Grove, Calif., native struck out the side to start the game. In the third, Alabama's Amanda Locke singled to short and was replaced by pinch runner Keima Davis at first. Two steals put Davis at third for Kaila Hunt, who laced a hit down the left-field line to plate the only run of the game.
Last Time Against Oklahoma
The then-No. 11/12 California softball team allowed six runs in Oklahoma's end of the fifth inning, and dropped the final decision, 12-1, on Feb. 20, 2010. The Sooners scored six runs off two home runs - a two RBI shot from Long and a four grand slam from Lindsey Vandever - in the top of the fifth to earn the mercy victory. Jolene Henderson started and pitched four innings with Marissa Drewrey closing out the game in the fifth. Valerie Arioto and Frani Echavarria each had a hit for the Bears while Lindsey Ziegenhirt earned a team-high two walks. For the Sooners, Rickets pitched the complete-game, allowed just two hits and one earned run.
Berkeley Super Regional Rundown
Cal defeated No. 16-seed Washington 5-0 and 2-0 to advance to the WCWS
It was the first Berkeley Super Regional in program history
The Bears swept the Huskies in Pac-12 play - 2-1, 5-3 and 6-4
Valerie Arioto, Jace Williams and Cheyenne Cordes all homered
Elia Reid paced Cal by hitting .500 in two at-bats while Arioto and Breana Kostreba led the starters by hitting .333
Jolene Henderson pitched 14.0 innings of scoreless ball, allowing seven hits and striking out 20 across the two games
The Bears outhit the Huskies 11-7 and shut them out on the board
Berkeley Super Regional Game One: Cal Def. UW 5-0
The No. 1-seeded California softball team defeated No. 16-seeded Washington 5-0 in the first game of the Berkeley Super Regional on Saturday evening in front of a sell-out crowd of 1,117 under the lights at Levine-Fricke Field. Valerie Arioto - who was intentionally walked seven times in the Berkeley Regional - hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the first. Jace Williams followed suit with a solo shot of her own, giving the Bears a 3-0 lead. Switching to the small game in the bottom of the fourth, the Bears tacked on two unearned runs to put the game out of reach. Jolene Henderson (35-2) pitched the seven-inning victory, fanning 11 Huskies. Kaitlin Inglesby (19-11) suffered the loss after allowing three earned runs on six hits and two walks.
Berkeley Super Regional Game Two: Cal Def. UW 2-0
With a two-run homer from Cheyenne Cordes homer that cleared the scoreboard in left field and a nine-strikeout, three-hit performance from Jolene Henderson, Cal beat Washington 2-0 to book a trip to Oklahoma City for the Golden Bears' 12th appearance in the Women's College World Series. After losing game one of the Berkeley Super Regional 5-0 on Saturday night, the Huskies came out firing on all cylinders in the bottom of the first as the home team on Cal's turf. Victoria Hayward led off with an eight-pitch walk, Nikia Williams singled to left, and Kimi Pohlman walked to load the bases with one out. Danielle Henderson made a great grab on a Hooch Fagaly liner to give the Bears two outs. On the run, Jamia Reid made a highlight-reel worthy sliding catch to end the inning, robbing Shawna Wright of what would have been a three-run hit. Jolene Henderson did not allow a ball out of the infield after that almost-fateful first inning. The Bears had not gotten a baserunner until the top of the fourth, when Cordes walked, and Breana Kostreba had Cal's first hit of the game with a solid single up the middle in the top of the fifth. Elia Reid took over for Kostreba at first, and with two outs, Cordes sent the fifth pitch of her at-bat over the scoreboard for a two-run homer.
Berkeley Regional Rundown
Hosting the first regional in Berkeley since 1993, the Bears went 4-1 to advance to supers
After beating Iona 8-0 in five innings to start the regional, Cal lost 3-2 to Arkansas but proceeded to beat Boston University 8-0 (six innings) to advance to the final day, when they beat Arkansas 10-2 in five innings and then 7-0 in the championship game
In Cal's five games in the Berkeley Regional, Frani Echavarria led Cal by hitting .660, slugging 1.067 with eight RBI and a .647 on-base percentage
Echavarria hit her first career grand slam in Cal's 10-2 win over the Razorbacks in an elimination game
Filling in as DP, Britt Vonk hit .529, slugged .765 with a .556 on-base percentage
Valerie Arioto only had six official at-bats for she was walked 13 times
Jolene Henderson pitched all but 0.1 of Cal's innings, amassing a 0.71 ERA
Overall, the Bears out hit their opponents .336-.216 and outscored them 35-5
The Bears played the first night home game in program history against Iona
Berkeley Regional Game Two: Cal Def. Iona 8-0
A pair of offensively lethal innings by No. 1-seeded California bookended May 18's game against Iona with the Golden Bears exacting an 8-0 mercy victory over the Gaels. A passed ball scored the first run for the Bears in the bottom of the first, and then a two-run shot by Breana Kostreba put the Bears up 3-0 before the first inning concluded. In the bottom of the fifth, Cal scored five runs on four hits, one Gael error, two walks and one hit batter to end the game early. Kostreba led the Bears with three RBI off her two hits. Frani Echavarria and Britt Vonk both tallied a pair of hits with Echavarria driving in the final run of the game. Jolene Henderson pitched a two-hitter, striking out seven in five innings of work.
Berkeley Regional Game Three: Arkansas Def. Cal 3-2
Arkansas jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, and Cal could not recover, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Razorbacks. On four hits - one of which was a solo homer - Arkansas built what would prove to be an insurmountable 3-0 lead. A delayed steal by Jamia Reid broke up the shutout in the bottom of the third. In the bottom of the fifth, Frani Echavarria hit her second double of the game, moved to third on a Reid groundout and then an error at first allowed Echavarria to score, cutting Arkansas' lead to one. Though Cal stranded just three through the first four innings, after the scoreboard read 3-2, Cal left six stranded on base.
Berkeley Regional Game Five: Cal Def. BU 8-0
Cal kept its postseason dreams alive, beating Boston University 8-0 in six innings on May 19 in an elimination game. Cal headed to the loser's bracket after dropping a 3-2 decision to Arkansas on Saturday afternoon. BU beat Iona 4-3 in 13 innings for the right to take on Cal in the elimination game. Jolene Henderson got the nod in the circle and was responsible for 11 of the 18 outs with a bevy of strikeouts. Until the bottom of the fifth, all of the defensive outs for the Bears were either a Henderson KO or a 5-3 groundout. Catcher Victoria Jones started the Bears off offensively with a towering shot to the bleachers in left field. After four intentional walks on the day - three of which came against Arkansas - BU threw to senior first baseman Valerie Arioto, who went two-for-two with two walks and an RBI. Also driving in runs were Jace Williams, Breana Kostreba, Cheyenne Cordes, Danielle Henderson and Frani Echavarria.
Berkeley Regional Game Six: Cal Def. Arkansas 10-2
Facing an early end to an already epic season, Cal beared down to defeat Arkansas 10-2 in five innings to force the "if necessary" game seven. Frani Echavarria was the offensive star for the Golden Bears, driving in six runs off four hits - one of which was a grand slam in the top of the fifth to put the Bears into mercy territory. Danielle Henderson hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Jace Williams was responsible for the other RBI of the day. Jolene Henderson pitched the five-inning game, striking out five and allowing two earned runs on six hits. Hope McLemore took the loss, moving her record to 2-1, suffering all 10 earned runs. Though leaving runners stranded proved problematic in the first two innings, in which the Bears left six on, Cal quickly recovered. The Bears scored 10 runs on 13 hits, six walks and one Razorback error.
Berkeley Regional Game Seven: Cal Def. Arkansas 7-0
With a trip to super regionals on the line, the No. 1 California softball team did what it's been doing all season - win. The Golden Bears defeated Arkansas, 7-0, on Sunday evening to capture the Berkeley Regional. Arkansas upset top-seeded Cal 3-2 on Saturday. The Bears eliminated BU 8-0 on Saturday night to keep their season alive. Cal run-ruled the Razorbacks 10-2 in five innings in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader, forcing the "if necessary" game seven. Jolene Henderson pitched back-to-back wins, improving to 34-2 in the circle. Britt Vonk tallied her first homer of the year and Ashley Decker drove in two runs of her own.
Intentionally Walk This Way
This season, senior Valerie Arioto accounts for all 16 of Cal's intentional base on balls. In two games - the 2-1 win over UW (March 30) and the 3-2 loss to Arkansas (May 19) - Arioto was intentionally walked three times. In the Berkeley Regional alone, Arioto had seven IBBs, with at least one coming in every game except the win against Iona. Arioto is second on Cal's career list in walks at 257 with Veronica Nelson holding the all-time record with 395.
Bears Match Program Best Wins
With a 56-5 record, Cal tied the current record for wins in a season, which was set in 2002, the year Cal won its first NCAA Championship. Should Cal win at least one game in Oklahoma City, they will set a new program best.
Hosting in Berkeley - a History
The Bears had not hosted postseason play since 1993, when Sacramento State and Long Beach State traveled to Berkeley. In that Cal Regional, Long Beach State beat Cal 2-1 to advance to the WCWS. The year before, the Bears hosted San Jose State and beat the Spartans 6-1 to earn a trip to Oklahoma City. The first and only other time the Bears have hosted postseason play was in 1990, when San Jose State and UNLV made the trek to Berkeley with the Running Rebels winning it all by beating Cal 2-1. Since the creation of super regionals in 2005, the Bears have never played supers at home.
Four Bears Named to Pacific Region First Team
For the first time in California softball history, four Golden Bears were named to the prestigious All-Pacific Region First Team, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced May 17. Senior utility Valerie Arioto, freshman third baseman Danielle Henderson, pitcher Jolene Henderson and left fielder Jamia Reid all made the first team. All four Bears were also named to All-Pac-12 teams. Those who land on the all-region first teams become eligible to become All-Americans. The 2012 NFCA Division I All-America teams will be announced at 2 p.m. PT, on Wednesday, May 30, on NFCA.org.
Bears Move Up in Career Record Standings
After starting the year third (157) in career runs, Valerie Arioto is currently first with 222. Not even on the top-five list prior to February, Jamia Reid is now second all-time in runs at 169 and first in hits at 296. Reid is also tied for second in triples with 15. Also not breaking the top-five barrier before this year, Arioto is now first in total bases (431) and second in career RBI with 186, in need of six RBI to take over first place (Haley Woods, 191). In just her second year, Britt Vonk sits atop the batting average board at .386 with Jamia Reid right behind her at .380. Though she is two homers shy of eclipsing Veronica Nelson in career homers, Arioto bested her in career slugging with a .663 percentage. This season, Frani Echavarria became the career leader in hit by pitch at 28. In pitching, Jolene Henderson is fourth in career wins (96), third in saves (8) and fifth in strikeouts (829).
Bears Break Records
With the regular season recently concluded and the season hopefully still far from over, Cal has already broken program records. The 409 runs scored this year are now the team's single-season high, besting the previous mark of 322, which was set in 2007. Similarly, the 363 RBI sets a team record, topping the old high of 286 RBI in 2010. The 81 homers blow the old mark of 55 (set in 2009) out of the water. The Bears are on track to get the highest fielding percentage - currently owning a .980 with the program high being .978, which occurred in 2005.
The Bears regularly start three freshmen in third baseman Danielle Henderson, shortstop Cheyenne Cordes and right fielder/designated player Breana Kostreba. In the NCAA Tournament alone, all three have driven in four runs apiece with each knocking out one homer. Overall, Henderson is third on the team in homers (15) and RBI (45) and has made just three errors in 60 starts. Cordes has played all 61 games at short, making six errors and rocking a .426 slugging percentage. Kostreba has consistently hit about the .300 mark, currently averaging .308 with 13 homers and 42 RBI.
The Bears boast two pairs of siblings on the team. Elia and Jamia Reid are twins while Jolene and Danielle Henderson are two years apart. Before each game, the sisters put tape on their forearms and write inspirational messages. For the Berkeley Super Regional, the four donned ribbons that said "Play With Honor."
USA Softball Invites Two Bears to Try Outs
Come June 10-12, Jolene Henderson and Lindsey Ziegenhirt will vie for the chance to don the red, white and blue at the 2012 USA Softball Women's National Team Selection Camp, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced. The 17 athletes selected to the USA Softball roster will compete in six different events in the United States and Canada. The remaining athletes who are not selected to the Women's National Team will make up the 2012 USA Softball Women's Elite National Team and will face the National Team in exhibition play.
Arioto, Henderson Lead Bears on Pac-12 Teams
With the inaugural Pac-12 Championship and best conference finish in program history in hand, eight Golden Bears skyrocketed themselves to the All-Pac-12 Teams. Valerie Arioto earned Player of the Year laurels and Jolene Henderson repeated as the Pitcher of the Year, and head coach Diane Ninemire is the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. Arioto, Henderson and Jamia Reid were all named to the All-Pac-12 First Team while Frani Echavarria, Danielle Henderson, Breana Kostreba and Jace Williams earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mentions. Further rounding out the Cal contingent with placement on the All-Freshman Team were Cheyenne Cordes, Danielle Henderson and Kostreba.
Bears Win Pac-12 in Dramatic Fashion
Coming into the final conference series of the 2012 season against No. 2 Sun Devils on May 10-12 in Berkeley, the Pac-12 title was up for grabs for the first team to win two. In the first game of the series, Cal battled back from a two-run deficit to tie the game 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth before Valerie Arioto unleashed a two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh to defeat the Sun Devils 4-2. The next day - donning pink jerseys in honor of the first-ever StrikeOut Cancer game in Berkeley - the Bears defeated ASU 5-0 to secure the championship. Danielle Henderson drove in the first two runs and then the fifth with Elia Reid accounted for the third and fourth runs when she singled to left. Senior player of the year award candidate Valerie Arioto pitched the complete-game victory, shutting out the Sun Devils as she struck out 11 of them.
Bears Enter Postseason as Undisputed No. 1
After capturing the Pac-12 title and the No. 1 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, the California softball team picked up every single first-place vote in both of the national polls. This is the fifth time the Bears are the undisputed top team in the ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings and the third go-around when they have garnered all 30 votes in the USA Today/NFCA poll. This week's rankings mark the eighth consecutive week Cal is No. 1in both polls and the 13th time this season that the Bears have been the top choice in at least one poll.
Inaugural Conference Winners
The California softball team won the first-ever Pac-10 title in 1987 and then the first-ever Pac-12 title in 2012. The two conference championships are the first two outright titles for the Bears. Cal tied for first in 2005. The .875 winning percentage this year is an all-time conference best for any team in Cal softball history.
Cal Tops RPI
In the latest edition of the RPI - released May 14 - the Bears continue to be first in the nation. Cal has topped the RPI since April 2 after starting the RPI season third. Alabama moved to second while Pac-12 rival Arizona State is now third. For yet another week, eight of the nine Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top 30 with Oregon ninth (down spot from last week), Arizona 11th (down one), UCLA 13th (down two spots), Washington 18th (down one spot), Stanford 19th (down one) and Oregon State 24th (down one). Utah is 71st, despite beating Stanford last week.
Recalling the 2002 National Championship
In 2002, the Bears owned a perfect record at the Fresno Regional - opening with a 10-inning 2-1 win over host Fresno State. Cal beat Cal State Fullerton twice to advance to its seventh Women's College World Series. The Bears opened things in Oklahoma City with a 4-2 win over home favorite Oklahoma. A 1-0 defeat of Florida State and a 3-0 win over Arizona State sent the Bears to the championship match over Arizona. It was the first time that the Bears had been in the title game, and no other Cal women's team had ever won an NCAA national championship. The game was a pitching duel between Cal's Jocelyn Forest and Zona's Jennie Finch, two of the best hurlers in the nation. Forest had a younger team behind her, notably less experienced and freshmen-laden compared to the defending national champion Wildcats. Additionally, Mike Candrea and his 'Cats had already won six NCAA championships in program history and had been to the title game 10 times. Candace Harper had the first RBI with a single up the middle in the seventh to give Cal a 1-0 lead, and the Bears never looked back - ultimately winning the game 6-0. For a complete feature on the 2002 national title, please see the clips packet.
Eight Pac-12 Teams Make Tourney
Eight of the nine teams in the Pac-12 earned NCAA Tournament bids, led by No. 1 overall seed Cal. The Pac-12 has eight teams in the postseason for the first time since 2007. California, Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA and Washington all hosted regionals while Oregon State and Stanford hit the road for regional play. Defending NCAA champion and No. 3 seed Arizona State won the Tempe Regional. No. 11 seed Oregon won its Eugene Regional. Despite earning the No. 12 seed, UCLA lost the Los Angeles Regional to Hofstra. No. 13 seeded Arizona won the Tucson Regional and the No. 16 Huskies won the Seattle Regional. Oregon State and Stanford were eliminated in regional play.
Highlighting Pac-12 Play
The Bears won the first-ever Pac-12 title
Cal has won each of the eight conference series in which it has played
The Bears swept five of the seven conference series
Cal opened Pac-12 play with a 3-0 sweep of then-No. 9 Stanford
The only three teams to steal wins over Cal were then-No. 13 Arizona (8-3, April 14), then-No. 14/17 Oregon (1-0, April 21) and then-No. 2 ASU (5-0, May 12)
The Conference coaches picked Cal to finish second in their preseason poll
Of Cal's 56 wins this year, 29 of them have been shutout victories. Nine of the shutouts have come during Pac-12 play. In their five losses, the Bears' opponents have shut out Cal in just two of the games. The Bears' 27 shutouts this season tie them for sixth on the all-time season best list. The current record for Cal shutouts in a season is 38, which occurred in 1992.
Cal has played either on the road or at a neutral site for 38 of its 59 games. Across their six nonconference tournaments - traveling to Tempe, Ariz.; Las Vegas, Cathedral City, Calif; Fullerton, Calif; Fresno, Calif.; and Honolulu - the Bears posted a perfect 23-0 neutral-site record. Including its 12 road Pac-12 games, Cal is 13-2 when playing on the road.
Home is a Haven
As if their road and neutral site record was not impressive enough, the Bears finished their home slate at 20-3, including games played at Levine-Fricke Field when they were the visiting team. The only three teams thus far to best the Bears at Levine-Fricke Field were then-No. 13 Arizona - which defeated Cal 8-3 on April 14 - and then-No. 2 Arizona State - which beat Cal 5-0 on May 12 - and Arkansas - which upset the Bears 3-2 on May 19.
Bears Honor Friends of Jaclyn Adoptee on April 30
For the third consecutive year, California softball's Friends of Jaclyn adoptee Bebe and her family made the trip to Levine-Fricke Field to take in a Golden Bear game, but the changes that have occurred in Bebe since her first game in 2010 and this year are nothing short of miraculous. Fatigued beyond belief by cancer treatments during her first Cal outing two years ago, Bebe's father Geoff had to throw out the first pitch while Bebe slept in his arms. Last year, Bebe threw out the first pitch by herself. Before the April 29 game, not only did Bebe throw out the first pitch, but she also enjoyed a warm-up dance session, gave the Bears a pre-game speech then signed autographs for anyone and everyone after the game.
Ninemire Nets 1,100th Career Win
Head coach Diane Ninemire hit yet another milestone - notching career win No. 1,100 thanks to the 8-1 victory over then-No. 14/18 Oregon on April 20, 2012. Entering the 2012 season with a career record of 1,059-509 in 24 complete years at the helm of the storied Golden Bear program, the Bears' epic success this year powered Ninemire to the necessary 41 wins to hit the next platform. As of April 22, 2012, only 12 coaches in the history of collegiate softball and only six in Division I ball - including Ninemire - had hit the 1,100 mark.
Arioto Breaks Homer Record
Valerie Arioto not only drove in three RBI across four games to power her top-ranked Bears to a Pac-12 series victory over No. 14/18 Oregon (April 20-22) and a 10-2 nonconference decision over Santa Clara (April 18), but she also broke her own single-season record for homers. She was previously tied - both in 2010 and 2011 - with Veronica Nelson for first place on the Cal program record for homers in a season at 19, but she blasted a shot in the Sunday game against Oregon to propel her to the top. After starting the season third on the career homers list, Arioto is now in second place with an astonishing 54 homers. She needs to hit the 55 mark to tie Nelson for first and 56 to own it outright.
Arioto Merits Tom Hansen Pac-12 Medal
After a storied career that is hopefully far from over, California softball utility Valerie Arioto earned herself one of the most coveted awards in the Pac-12 - the Tom Hansen Pac-12 Conference Medal - which is given to the top male and female senior student-athletes at each member institution. Arioto joined men's basketball senior guard Jorge Gutierrez to accept the award at the Academic Honors Luncheon on May 3. The determination is based on the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership.
Ziegenhirt Earns Golden Bear Award
At the May 3 Academic Honors Luncheon in Berkeley, junior catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt proudly represented the Cal softball team by earning the Golden Bear Achievement Award. The awards are presented to the student-athlete with the highest GPA on his or her respective team. Ziegenhirt is majoring in psychology and has an incredible 3.74 GPA.
Talk of the Polls
For each week this season, the Bears were recognized as one of the top-25 teams in the nation, being ranked in each of the national polls. Cal's highest ranking in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll was first - a mark the Bears achieved 13 times. The Bears were the unanimous choice for No. 1 in that poll five times this season. The Bears were also as high as No. 1 in the USA Today/NFCA poll - holding the top spot for eight weeks. Cal was the unquestionable No. 1 team in that poll thrice (week eight, April 3; week 13, May 8; week 14, May 15), and also received 29 of the possible 30 first-place votes three times. The Bears began the season ranked third in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and fourth in the USA Today/NFCA poll.
Cal Adds 704 Bleacher Seats to Levine-Fricke Field
Cal Athletics has installed 704 more seats at Levine-Fricke Field. With the addition of the new seats - which are in the outfield - crowd capacity at Levine-Fricke Field more than doubled.
Three Bears Make Player of the Year Top-25 List
Valerie Arioto, Jolene Henderson and Jamia Reid have the utmost honor of being named three of the 25 finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, the Amateur Softball Association announced April 11. This award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. The three Golden Bears had previously been named to the top-50 watch list, and Cal is just one of two schools with three student-athlete representatives.
Thanks to the 13-5 win over Tennessee to start the 2012 season, Cal has now won 33 of its year openers. In five of the past seven lid lifters, the Bears have scored 10+ runs.
Ninemire Utilizes Multiple Line-Ups
In each of the four games in the desert to start the season, head coach Diane Ninemire started a slightly shifted nine. Victoria Jones, Danielle Henderson, Lindsey Ziegenhirt and Taylor Vincent all saw time behind the dish. Jace Williams shifted between third and second, while Danielle Henderson played at first and third in addition to her catching time. In total, all 17 active players saw time on the field or in the batter's box.
Preseason Rankings Rate Cal Softball as No. 3/4
After finishing the 2011 campaign as the No. 5 team in the country according to both polls and the final Women's College World Series standings, Cal started 2012 as the third and fourth best team, according to the preseason rankings. The ESPN.com/USA Softball poll placed the Golden Bears at No. 3 while the USA Today/NFCA standings held Cal at No. 4. With the No. 3 laudation by the ESPN.com/USA Softball, the poll placed Cal two spots ahead of its final 2011 ranking, while the USA Today/NFCA rankings have the Bears one spot of their final ranking.
Pac-12 Softball Coaches Envision Cal to Finish Second
The Pac-12 coaches forecasted the Bears to finish second in the prestigious conference according to the preseason poll released Jan. 28. The Golden Bears received two first-place votes and 58 total points to take second in the preseason poll, marking the highest predicted finish since 2005. Just three points ahead of Cal, defending national champion Arizona State garnered six first-place votes to occupy the No. 1 spot in the annual poll. Arizona, which took third, rounded out the first-place votes with one. Last year, Cal was in a tie for fourth in the preseason poll only to take second, which was the highest conference finish for the Bears since they tied for first in 2005. In eight of the past 11 seasons, the Bears have finished higher than they were predicted to in the preseason poll. In 2002, the coaches foresaw Cal finishing in a tie for sixth, but not only did the Bears take fourth, they also went on to win the national title.
Bears Celebrate Holidays With Friends of Jaclyn Adoptee
Before departing Berkeley to spend the winter break with their families, the Bears spent time with important members of their Cal family - Bebe Wiggs and her family. In 2010, the Bears adopted Bebe, a local child with pediatric cancer, through the Friends of Jacyln Foundation. The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (FOJ) is a non-profit, charitable organization that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families. This past December, Cal joined the Wiggs family for a holiday celebration. Everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner at the newly opened Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance. Following the meal, the group headed to the softball squad's brand-new locker room for presents and a big surprise for Bebe. Prior to the dinner, the Bears and staff selected a locker that will be Bebe's for the duration. They filled it with presents for her and then gift wrapped the locker for Bebe.
USA Softball Lauds Cordes as Junior Athlete of the Year
Freshman Cheyenne Cordes joined an elite group of people when USA Softball and the Amateur Softball Association recognized her as the 2011 Athlete of the Year from the Junior Women's National Team program. Cordes helped lead the United States to the gold medal at the International Softball Federation Junior Women's World Championship, Dec. 6-17, in Cape Town, South Africa. She was the only member of the team to start in all 11 games in Cape Town and one of two athletes to play in all 11 games. While seeing time primarily at third, she also led the U.S. in hits (15), extra base hits (seven), RBI (12) and stolen bases (three).
ASA/USA Softball Names Arioto to National Squad
Senior Valerie Arioto earned herself a spot on the 2012 USA Softball Women's National Team, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced Jan. 11. Arioto joined 11 athletes in the selection. An additional five athletes will be named to the squad, which will compete at the International Softball Federation (ISF) Women's World Championship, following a 2012 USA Softball Women's National Team and USA Softball Women's Elite National Team Selection Camp in June. In her rookie season with the USA Softball Women's National Team, Arioto started in 24 of 26 games played. At the plate, she was 21-for-57 (.368), hitting a team-high eight doubles, two triples and four homeruns. She had 19 runs scored and 21 RBI. Arioto and her teammates who were named to the 2012 USA Softball Women's National Team helped Team USA win the gold medal at the 2011 World Cup of Softball in July in Oklahoma City and the 2011 Pan American Games in October in Guadalajara, Mexico.