April 7, 2010
BERKELEY -Thanks to the No. 15/13 California softball team's 6-0 win over Sacramento State on Wednesday afternoon, Cal head coach Diane Ninemire achieved an impressive career milestone with her 1,000 career win. To get that No. 1,000, Ninemire had an ace on her side in freshman pitcher Jolene Henderson, who pitched a perfect game through the first six innings of play. In all, Henderson fanned six batters and allowed just one hit.
"It's a great feeling because what the 1,000 wins really represents is all the great players that have come through this program," Ninemire said. "Cal is a great place because everyone gets the best of both worlds - academically and athletically. There is no other place like this. I really embrace the opportunities that I've had over the course of my career here at Cal."
Ninemire is the ninth coach in the history of Division I softball to notch 1,000 wins. Already the winningest coach - male or female - in all of Cal history for any sport, Ninemire now has a career record of 1,000-485 and is in her 23rd year as the Bears' head coach. Ninemire has overseen countless players, including 25 All-America selections, 146 All-Pac-10 players, 44 academic All-Americans and 86 All-Region choices.
"I'm very appreciative of and thankful for all the players that chose Cal," Ninemire said. "I am thankful to have this happen at home for the fans and all the players that we can all share this special moment."
Ninemire won her first game at the helm of the Bears on Feb. 15, 1988, with a 2-0 decision over Pacific in only her second game as a head coach. All of her head coaching experience has been at Cal, where she has registered 22 winning seasons and 22 consecutive trips to the postseason. Ninemire also led Cal to a Women's College World Series title in 2002, which was the first NCAA championship for any women's team in Cal history.
"It's not really about me - it's about the Cal softball program," Ninemire noted of her 1,000th win. "A program that has won a 1,000 games under me and more than that overall - that says something about our tradition and the pride that we take on the field here at Cal. For me, it's more about the success of the program but I am thrilled and honored to have a day like today."
Valerie Arioto got the first out of the game when she cleanly fielded a ground ball hit right at her for an unassisted out. It was Vernae Sevilla's turn for a ground ball in the game's second at bat, which she threw to Arioto for the game's second out. Jamia Reid came in slightly in left field to field a pop up to end the inning.
In the bottom of the first, the first Cal batters - Jamia Reid and Shannon Thomas - were hit by pitches to get on base. Reid was thrown out stealing second, only the sixth time all season that the Pac-10 leader in steals has been caught. With Thomas on first, Arioto had a clean double down the left-field line to plate Thomas. On the throw to home, Arioto advanced to third and then came home to score when the throw went awry, giving Cal a 2-0 lead.
It was three up, three down in the top of the first for the Hornets with two 6-3s and a pop up to left.
To lead off the bottom of the third, Jamia Reid slapped the first pitch she saw from relief pitcher Shelby Voelz down the right-field line for a single. Shannon Thomas earned her team-leading 11th sacrifice hit of the season to move Reid to second. Arioto then walked - a category in which she leads the conference and is second in all of Cal history - to put runners at first and second. Reid and Arioto held steady while Lindsey Ziegenhirt, who was swinging for the fences, popped up to left.
With two away and after a long strike into foul territory in right field, Echavarria connected for a hit in right-center field, plating Thomas and advancing Arioto to second. Voelz got her first of two strikeouts in the game off the next batter - Taylor Kelly - to end the inning with Cal upping its lead to 3-0.
Henderson and the Cal defense again sent the Hornets down in order in the top of the fourth.
Vernae Sevilla earned a walk to begin the bottom of the fifth, and was replaced by Jayme Goodwin as a pinch runner. Jolene Henderson then singled down the left-field line to put two runners aboard with no outs. Jamia Reid connected on a ground ball to third, but the Hornets got the lead runner out in Goodwin with Reid reaching on the fielder's choice.
Shannon Thomas had a one-out single to load the bases when her hit went between the pitcher and shortstop into center field. With Henderson at third, Jamia Reid at second and Thomas at first, Valerie Arioto made contact with a ball that soared into the sky. It dropped in between second and right field for a hit, plating Henderson, Reid and Thomas. The three runs, which distanced Cal, 6-0, were the final of the inning and game.
Sac State registered its first and only hit of the game with first baseman Alyssa Nakken had a full-count hit to center field. After Nakken was tagged out while Kelli Frye reached on a fielder's choice, Henderson shut down the Hornets with a looking strike out and fielding a line drive hit right out her to end the game. In addition to the win being Ninemire's 1000th, it was Henderson's 13th as she improved to 13-2 overall.
The Bears continue play - Pac-10 play that is - on Friday in Eugene, Ore., for a three-game series against the Ducks. Cal is 70-34 against Oregon in the two team's history, with the last game ending in favor of the Bears, 1-0, on April 26, 2009.