Feb. 5, 1997
No. 8 Cal Hosts St. Mary's, Visits Pacific
THIS WEEK: St. Mary's Gaels (0-6) at California Golden Bears (3-1), Saturday, Feb. 8, 1 p.m., Strawberry Field
California Golden Bears at Pacific Tigers (0-0), Sunday, Feb. 9, 12 noon, Stockton, CA
Eighth-ranked Cal concludes its six-game homestand to open the 1997 season with a doubleheader against St. Mary's Saturday on Strawberry Field. The Bears then take to the road, visiting Pacific Sunday for a 12 noon twinbill. Cal is 23-0 all-time against St. Mary's, including 1-0 and 2-1 victories last year. The Bears also lead the series with Pacific, 43-26-1, with Cal winning twice last season (7-0 and 11-8) at the National Invitational Softball Tournament in Sunnyvale.
HEAD COACH DIANE NINEMIRE: Diane Ninemire, the winningest softball coach in Golden Bear history, is in her 10th year as head coach at Cal with a school and career record of 375-200. The 1991 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, she has led Cal to nine NCAA Tournament berths and a pair of College World Series appearances (1992, '96). Ninemire is assisted by John Reeves, who is in his fourth season, and Tonja Hadley, who is in her first.
BEARS TAKE 3 OF 4 IN OPENING WEEKEND: Cal began the 1997 season with a doubleheader sweep of Santa Clara Feb. 1, 7-0 and 2-1 (8 innings). In the opener, senior P Whitney Floyd (San Jose, CA) tossed a three-hitter and junior DP Jenny Ackley (Stockton, CA) drove home three runs with a double and a sacrifice fly. In the second game, sophomore P Holly Yost (Ripon, CA) allowed just an infield single, but it took Ackley's RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning to provide the winning margin. On Feb. 2, Cal suffered its first loss of the year, 6-3, to San Jose State. However, the Bears rebounded in the nightcap with a 5-4 win. Once again, Ackley came through in the clutch with a two-out, two-run hit in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift Cal to the victory.
ACKLEY OFF TO FAST START: Junior DP Jenny Ackley seems to have regained the form that saw her earn second team All-America honors as a freshman in 1995 (.353, 47 RBI). After a sub-par 1996 when she batted just .277 with 17 RBI, Ackley already has eight RBI on the season and she boasts a .583 batting average through four games (7-13). She had three RBI in Cal's opener against Santa Clara, then had game-winning RBIs in the second game against the Spartans and against San Jose State. For her career, Ackley has 72 RBI and needs just two more to move into a tie for fourth place on Cal's all-time list.
BEARS RANKED EIGHTH IN PRESEASON POLL: Cal is ranked eighth in the preseason USA Today/NFCA poll. Last year, the Bears finished the season sixth in the final rankings after not moving above 10th during the regular season. Five Pac-10 teams are rated in the preseason: No. 1 Arizona, No. 2 UCLA, No. 4 Washington, No. 8 Cal and No. 25 Arizona State.
BEAR NOTES: With a sacrifice fly against San Jose State Feb. 2, senior 1B Melanie McCart (Veneta, OR) drove in the 100th run of her career; she is second on Cal's all-time list behind Gillian Boxx (146 RBI) ... McCart also needs just one home run to tie Pam Reinoehl (1980-83) for the Cal career record with 19 ... Cal was picked fourth in the conference in a preseason vote of the Pac-10 coaches, behind Arizona, UCLA and Washington ... Cal returns 14 of 15 letterwinners from last year's team ... three freshmen have joined the team for 1997: IF Lisa Iancin (Covina, CA), IF Paige Bowie (Fresno, CA), OF Meredith Mollner (Salinas, CA) ... Cal's game at Washington April 19 will be televised live by Fox Sports Net (locally on Bay TV) ... two former Cal players -- Michele Granger and Gillian Boxx -- were members of the U.S. team that won a gold medal at the Olympics last summer, while former Cal pitcher Lisa Martinez played for the Puerto Rican Olympic team.