Feb. 21, 2013
BERKELEY - With a 7-2 record and a No. 8 ranking to their name, the Golden Bears head to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs this weekend in search of wins against four competitive NCAA softball programs - Georgia Tech, Maryland, Illinois and Nebraska. All games will be played at the Big League Dreams Complex.
"We have four really great opponents to play this week, so we will be tested," said California head coach Diane Ninemire. "We're looking for improvements in every category."
First up in this weekend's tournament slate is Georgia Tech (8-3) at 3:30 p.m. PT Friday on the Just Softball Pawtucket field. A doubleheader on Saturday at the Schutt Fenway field pairs up California against Maryland (3-1) at 2:30 p.m. and then Illinois (5-5) at 5 p.m. The Golden Bears return to Schutt Fenway on Sunday for their final game of the weekend against Nebraska (9-1) at 11:30 a.m.
Though the Yellow Jackets have yet to be ranked, the team has received votes in all three of this season's NFCA Division I Top 25 polls. This weekend will be Georgia Tech's first road test after hosting two weekend tournaments at home.
Maryland's lone loss this season came against then-No. 14 Michigan. The team has only played three other games, with two wins over LIU Brooklyn and a win against Massachusetts.
The Illini enter the weekend tournament with a 5-5 record, losing each time they played a ranked team this season.
Nebraska holds its best 10-game start in program history with a 9-1 record. Similar to California, the Husker lineup also features several freshmen in starting roles, including freshman ace Emily Lockman, who tossed her first no-hitter last Saturday against Utah State. The team received one vote in this week's ESPN.com/USA Softball poll this week.
"We're going to take it one day at a time. We're working to get better every day," Ninemire said.
Cal joins 34 other programs competing in Palm Springs in the four-day tournament, including eight of the nine Pac-12 softball teams. A full tournament schedule, can be found at: www.palmspringssoftballclassic.com.
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