May 25, 2003
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - California (49-19) earned the right to defend its first ever national title after defeating top-seeded Arizona (56-7), 4-1, in an elimination game Sunday evening at the Women's College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. Kaleo Eldredge hit her first home run of the season and Veronica Nelson blasted her 13th of the year, a two-run shot, that proved to be the gamewinner.
The Bears, coming through the loser's bracket after a 1-0 loss to Texas Friday, forced the evening game after defeating the Wildcats, 2-1 in 12 innings, earlier in the day. Cal is bidding to become just the third team in the 22-year history of the World Series to come through the loser's bracket to win the title.
In addition, the Bears hope to become just the third school to repeat as national champions, a feat has been accomplished twice by both Arizona and UCLA. A second national title would put Cal in a prestigious group of just four teams to have at least two championships - UCLA (8), Arizona (6) and Texas A & M (2).
The Bears are now 3-4 all-time against Arizona in the World Series having won the last three meetings, including last year's national championship game. Today's two wins also were the first for the Bears against the Wildcats this season as Arizona took all three games during Pac-10 play.
After intentionally walking Nelson in her first two plate appearances, Arizona pitcher Alicia Hollowell decided to throw to her and Nelson promptly launched a 1-1 offering for her 13th home run of the season, a two-run shot to deep left centerfield. It was the 55th long ball of Nelson's career and her second of the World Series. In today's two games, Nelson was walked a total of seven times, six of which were intentional.
Eldredge got the Bears on the board first as she led off the second inning with a home run to left centerfield, her first of the season.
Arizona came right back, however, in the bottom of the inning. Lisha Ribellia hit a two-out double to deep centerfield to score Jackie Coburn who had reached on a fielder's choice.
A pair of singles and two fielder's choices put Arizona runners on first and third with two outs in the bottom of the third. But Courtney Fossatti got caught leaning off third base and was picked off by catcher Courtney Scott who threw to Vicky Galindo who did a great job of blocking the base.
Clinging to a 3-1 lead, Cal found itself in a jam in the bottom of the fifth inning. A base hit and an error put runners on first and second. But pitcher Kelly Anderson was able to get two groundouts from Courtney Fossatti and Lovie Jung, the second and third hitters in the lineup, to get out of the inning.
Kelly Anderson continues to be the workhorse for the Bears and shows no signs of slowing down. She threw all 19 innings today, allowing just two runs on nine hits. Through five World Series games, the sophomore has thrown 39.0 innings, giving up just seven runs, five earned, on 19 hits. She owns a World Series ERA of 0.90 and through nine postseason games has a 0.58 ERA.
Hollowell walked eight batters in each of the two games today, setting, and tying, the record for most bases on balls in a single World Series game. And after striking out 16 in today's first game, only three Bears fell victim in the nightcap.
Over its last 85 postseason innings dating to last season, Cal pitching has combined to allow just six earned runs (eight total) while the Bears have scored 47 runs during the same span.
Cal will face the winner of this evening's contest between second-seeded UCLA and third-seeded Texas. The national championship game is scheduled for Monday, May 26, 1:30 p.m. PDT and will be televised live on ESPN.
NCAA Softball Results at Hall of Fame Stadium Oklahoma City, Okla.
California 010 020 1 - 4 7 1 Arizona 010 000 0 - 1 4 0