After earning its 26th consecutive postseason berth, the softball team has embarked on a quest for the College World Series title. ESPN recently ran a story on Netherlands native Britt Vonk, who has had a phenomenal freshman year with Cal. She and the rest of the Bears face Jacksonville State on Friday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Now in her first college season half a world away from her hometown of Enschede, a city about 100 miles east of Amsterdam, Vonk was just 17 when she became the youngest member of the Dutch national team that competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. And just as she wasted little time making an impression on the international stage, going from a surprise inclusion on the Dutch team to the leadoff batter when the team took the field for its first game of the tournament in China, she didn't waste any time establishing herself as a potential All-American, so to speak.
As California travels to the Louisville regional as the No. 7 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, Vonk is hitting .414 with a .514 on-base percentage and 25 stolen bases as the full-time starter at shortstop.
"She has taken a very big responsibility, especially playing in the Pac-10, which is the best conference in the country for softball," said California junior third baseman Jace Williams. "She has really embraced her role and shown leadership. Offensively, she is so fast -- she just puts the bat on ball, does her job, makes the opposing defense work, and she really makes things happen for us."
Perhaps the only endeavor in which she has been less than entirely successful is making the Bears bilingual.
"We're always asking her to teach us words," Williams said. "We have cheers, like when we break between innings, we'll do some Dutch cheers. … It's just hard because their language, it doesn't come out naturally for us. They have some sounds that are really hard to pronounce. None of us can really make it sound right."
After the jump JO continues his post-spring practice reviews, Monty's team earns a spot in Wilner's preseason top-25, and men/women's crew prepare for postseason competition.
- Mel Kiper has released his first Big Board for the 2012 NFL Draft. Conspicuously absent is #1 punting prospect and anticipated #1 overall pick Bryan Anger.
- Jon Wilner comments on Tedford's decision to name Maynard the starter. His optimism for the Cal basketball team is well balanced by his pessimism towards the football team.
- JO reviews special teams. Genyk's unit still has field goal and coverage issues, but punting is in excellent shape.
- JO reviews the defensive backs. The Bears have quality depth at safety but may rely on incoming freshmen to fill out the two-deep at cornerback.
- CalBears.com preview's this weekend's National Championship Game between Cal and BYU. Cal will face its stiffest challenge of the year against the favored Cougars.
- The Daily Cal takes a look at some problem areas for the Bears as the season comes to an end. The Bears' offense must pick up if they hope to mount a run through the tourney.
- The Bears fell behind 2-0 early on but came roaring back to defeat UC Davis 8-3.
- The #1-ranked women's team was selected to the 2011 NCAA D-I Women's Rowing Championships. Sacramento-based Cal alums should head up to Lake Natoma next Saturday and Sunday to cheer on the Bears as they seek their first national title since 2006.
- The second-ranked men's team will send all five boats to the 2011 IRA Regatta to defend their 2010 National Championship.
- The Bears had a rough start during day one of the NCAA Championships. Cal sits at 19th (out of 24). At least we're ahead of Stanford (T20th).