May 18, 2008
Fresno, Calif. - California advanced to its third ever NCAA Super Regional after a 7-6 deciding game seven victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs in nine innings in the Fresno Regional on Sunday evening at Bulldog Stadium. Cal (43-25) travels to Gainesville to take on the top-seeded Florida Gators (65-3), May 23-24. The NCAA went to a Super Regional format beginning in 2005.
The Golden Bears also advanced to Super Regionals in 2005 (Baylor) and 2006 (Oregon State). This will be Florida's second Super Regional appearance. The Gators toppled Central Florida, 10-0, in their Regional game seven played at the Pressly Softball Stadium on campus.
Cal's last Regional appearance in Fresno was in 2005, when it won four straight (after losing the first game) to advance to the Super Regional in Baylor. Cal took two of three from BU to advance to the World Series that year as well.
Just as she has done all postseason, Gina Leomiti came up with the big hit - this time a RBI single in the bottom of the first inning to score Valerie Arioto (who drew a walk) giving the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Leomiti really helped out the Bears in the home half of the second when she absolutely crushed the Morgan Mellow offering (a one-strike, two-out situation) for a grand slam over the left field wall, boosting the Cal lead to 5-0.
Fresno State did not lay down for the Bears and promptly put up two runs in the top of the third to slice into Cal's lead.
Lisamarie Coronado then planted an RBI single to right field in the top of the fourth to score another run for the Bulldogs, trimming the lead even more at 5-3.
Arioto added to Cal's lead (6-3) when she scored from third base on a wild pitch from Melloh.
The Bulldogs kept applying the pressure to the Bears in the top of the fifth and put two more runs on the board to trim the deficit to 6-5.
The drama continued in the top of the sixth when pinch runner Michelle Palazuelos scored from third base on wild pitch to knot the score at 6-6.
The score remained deadlocked at 6-6 in the ninth inning when Julie Meyer knocked the game-winning single down the left field line to plate Bernice Masaniai (who led off with a single) to send the Bears to Gainesville.
Arioto scored three runs in the nightcap to boost her season total to 54, second most for a single season in program history.
Marissa Drewrey tied both Holly Yost's single season games started record of 46 (a record that was established in 1997), and Kristina Thorson's appearances record of 53, set in 2006 (second most for a season).
Fresno State finishes the season at 54-13. The Bulldogs were the top seed in the Regional and the No. 16 national seed.