May 12, 2005
BERKELEY - A single by right fielder Alex Sutton to score pinch runner Jessica Vernaglia in the bottom of the seventh gave California softball head coach Diane Ninemire her 800th career victory and the No. 2 Bears a dramatic, 1-0, win against No. 3 Arizona Thursday at Levine-Fricke Field.
Cal (45-10 overall, 12-7) had the chance to secure the game an inning prior to Sutton's single up the middle. With no outs and freshman Erika Racklin pinch running for catcher Haley Woods at first base, center fielder Kaleo Eldredge grounded a ball to Wildcat shortstop Kristie Fox.
Fox flipped the ball to second baseman Callista Balko in an attempt to get Racklin, but the throw sailed wide. Racklin advanced to third but Eldredge was caught in a rundown trying to take second. With Eldredge hung up, Racklin broke for home. The throw to Arizona catcher Jackie Coburn was online and Coburn sealed Racklin off the plate. Wildcats starter Leslie Wolfe (3-2) retired the next two hitters to end the Cal threat.
In the top of the seventh, Cal starter Kelly Anderson (24-6) walked Arizona right fielder Adrienne Acton and center fielder Caitlin Lowe to load the bases. Anderson, however, forced left fielder Autumn Champion to pop up, giving the Bears a chance to win the game in the bottom of the inning.
"We talked to the girls about this being a championship game," said Ninemire, the 20th Division I head coach to reach the 800-win plateau. "It was a complete pitcher's duel. Kelly tossed a great game and we got the defense to work behind her."
In the top of the first, the Wildcats loaded the bases with one out before Anderson got third baseman Jen Martinez to line out and first baseman Crystal Farley to ground out. Lowe had singled to lead off the game but following that base hit, Anderson no-hit the Wildcats for four and one-third innings.
Cal collected six hits off of Wolfe with designated player Emily Friedman going 2-for-3.
In her 18 years, Ninemire (800-379) has amassed more victories than any coach in California athletics history and has never suffered a losing season. She has led the Bears to six consecutive Women's College World Series appearances, winning the national championship in 2002. Under Ninemire, Cal has reached the postseason every year and won at least 35 games. Her first victory came Feb. 15, 1988, a 2-0 victory against Pacific.
The Bears, who remain mathematically alive for the Pac-10 title, host Arizona State Friday at 1 p.m. before the regular-season finale against the Sun Devils on Saturday.
Cal is expected to receive its 20th-consecutive NCAA Tournament berth when the 2005 field is announced May 15.
Arizona 000 000 0 - 0 3 2 California 000 000 1 - 1 6 1 Wolfe and Coburn; Anderson and Woods W - Anderson (24-6); L - Wolfe (3-2) Records: Cal: 45-10 (12-7 Pac-10) UA: 37-10 (11-8 Pac-10)