May 5, 1997
No. 23 Cal Ends Regular Season in Oregon, Awaits NCAA Tournament Bid
THIS WEEK: California (31-23, 10-13) at Oregon State (28-27-1, 5-14), Saturday, May 10, 1 p.m., Corvallis, OR California at Oregon (19-32-1, 4-16), Sunday, May 11, 1 p.m., Eugene, OR
No. 23 California concludes the 1997 regular season with a pair of doubleheaders at Oregon State and Oregon this weekend. Earlier this year, the Bears swept the Beavers on Strawberry Field by scores of 3-0 and 10-0 to increase their series lead to 43-12. Cal and Oregon split their pair in Berkeley with the Bears taking the first game, 3-0, and the Ducks winning game two, 13-8. Overall, Cal owns a 39-21 series advantage.
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 403-222. 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.
LAST WEEK: Cal went 2-2, splitting with both Stanford (1-0 in 8 innings, 1-2) and sixth-ranked Washington (3-5, 6-5). At Stanford April 30, the Bears pounded out 16 hits in the two games, but could only push across two runs in two games as a result of going just 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position. In the opener, P Holly Yost tossed a four-hitter and struck out six. 2B Lisa Iancin provided the game-winning RBI with a single in the top of the eighth inning. Against Washington May 4, Cal nearly rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the seventh inning, scoring twice, but leaving two runners on base when the game ended. In the second game, C Megumi Takasaki gave the Bears a 5-3 lead with her third homer of the year, a two-run shot in the fourth inning. After the Huskies tied the score, Cal loaded the bases in the seventh inning, and Yost's single brought home RF Kirsten Drake with the winning run.
BEARS AWAIT WORD FROM NCAA: Bids to the 32-team NCAA Tournament will be announced Sunday, May 11 at 6 p.m. PT. The Bears, who advanced to the College World Series last year, are hoping for their 12 consecutive invitation to the postseason playoffs. However, Cal is squarely on the bubble this year and will not know its fate until the field is revealed.
NINEMIRE WINS 400TH: Cal head coach Diane Ninemire won the 400th game of her career with the Bears 2-0 victory in game one over New Mexico State April 27. Now in her 10th season as head coach at Cal, Ninemire has a career record of 403-222. For active coaches with 10 years or less experience, Ninemire has more wins than any other head coach in NCAA Division I.
BEARS NEED ONE WIN FOR UPPER-DIVISION FINISH: Cal needs just one more victory to clinch fourth place in the Pac-10. Entering the final week of the season, the Bears are 10-13, just ahead of fifth-place and 14th-ranked Arizona State, which is 9-17. Below is a look at the Pac-10 standings through May 4 (national rankings as of April 29 are in parentheses).
McCART RE-WRITES CAL RECORD BOOK: Senior 1B Melanie McCart, who is batting a career-best and team-high .327 this season, has broken four Cal offensive records in 1997: single-season and career home runs and single-season and career RBI. McCart slugged her 10th homer of the year against Arizona April 26 to push her ahead of her mark of nine home runs set last year. For her career, McCart's 28 round-trippers are nearly 10 more than second-place Pam Reinoehl had. As for RBI, McCart has 53 this year and her career total of 152 edges out four-time All-American Gillian Boxx on Cal's all-time last. In addition, McCart has tied Boxx's career mark with 44 doubles and broken the school record with 1,430 career putouts.
OUCH, THAT HURTS: Cal has set one of its least popular team records this year as the Bears have broken the school mark for most times hit by a pitch with 28. The old mark was 22 times hit in both 1978 and '89. Cal had its most painful weekend April 5-6 when Bear batters were hit 12 times by Oregon and Oregon State pitchers, including five times in one game against the Ducks. Individually, P Holly Yost leads the way, being hit eight times. The sophomore has been hit 11 times in her career, tying her with Marielle Vaughn (1989) for the Cal career record. On the flip side, Cal pitchers have also set a school record, plunking 18 opposing batters.
FOUR BEARS OUT WITH INJURIES: Cal has played almost the entire season without four key members of the team who are out with injuries. The most significant is to senior P Whitney Floyd, a two-time All-American who is out with knee injury. Floyd was 2-2 with a 1.56 ERA this year before she was sidelined in early February. Also a two-time first team All-Pac-10 choice, she has a career record of 61-38, including a 22-13 mark with a 1.40 ERA in '96. In addition, junior UT Valerie Nicklas is out for the year with a pair of concussions, and sophomore 3B Carlyn Rojas (shoulder surgery) and freshman SS Paige Bowie (hand surgery) will miss the entire season, too. All four players are expected to apply for medical hardships waivers after the season to gain an addition year of eligibility.
YOST SHOWS ALL-AROUND ABILITY: Sophomore Holly Yost, who has taken over the vast majority of Cal's pitching duties with Whitney Floyd out of the lineup, is showing off her all-around skills this season. As a pitcher, Yost is 24-18 with a 2.74 ERA, 169 strikeouts and 11 shutouts. She has wins over Top 25 teams UCLA, Oklahoma State, Washington, Utah and Arizona State (twice). The Pac-10 leader in innings with 263.3, Yost has pitched in 48 of Cal's 54 games this season, tying Michele Granger's school record for appearances. At the plate, Yost is batting .326 with three homers and 21 RBI. This past weekend, she had the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift Cal over No. 6 Washington, 6-5.
McCART ADDS PITCHING TO HER REPERTOIRE: With P Whitney Floyd out for the year, senior 1B Melanie McCart has become Cal's second pitcher this season. So far, she has appeared in 18 games (70.0 innings) with 10 starts and is 5-3 with a 3.70 ERA. McCart shut out Michigan State, 4-0, on March 21 at the Capital Classic in Sacramento. She also has wins over New Mexico, Illinois State, Creighton and Hawaii. McCart did not pitch last year, but she did appear in one game as a freshman and four games a sophomore, all in relief and compiling a 2.40 ERA in 11.7 innings.
OLYMPIANS HONORED AT STRAWBERRY FIELD: Prior to Cal's May 4 doubleheader with Washington, Cal honored three of its former softball players who participated in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta: P Michele Granger, C Gillian Boxx and P Lisa Martinez. Both Granger and Boxx helped the United States to the gold medal, while Martinez was a member of the Puerto Rican squad.
THEFT RATE RISES IN '97: Through Cal's 54 games this year, the Bears have stolen 45 bases in 60 attempts. Although that total may not be high by Pac-10 standards, it is the most stolen bases for Cal since the team stole 49 in 1993. Freshman 2B Lisa Iancin leads the way with nine steals in 13 attempts, while C Megumi Takasaki and OF Karen Bonini have seven steals each.
DRAKE AT THIRD POSITION IN THREE YEARS: Junior OF Kirsten Drake is playing her third position in three seasons with the Bears. As a freshman, Drake started at shortstop, batting .292 in 59 games. Last year, she again began at short before moving over to second base midway through the season. This year, Drake has played in 49 of 50 games in right field and leads all outfielders with six assists. At the plate, Drake is batting .273 and has a team-best 22 sacrifice bunts.