Cal Softball In Primetime
Suddenly, our Super Soft-Bears look very very mortal.
Cal gave up three runs to Arkansas in the first inning, and then the Bears. Could. Not. Hit. If not for an awesome steal of home plate by Jamia Reid and an error on a grounder, the Bears could've been blanked by the ninth best team in the SEC. And it's not like these Arkansas pitchers are anything great. Cal is struggling to make contact, and it costs them when they fall behind.
Valerie Arioto gave up two singles and a massive double before getting pulled. Arkansas added a home run (which they're good at) off of Jolene Henderson (who never gives up homers) before she locked down the rest of the game, but the damage was done. Arkansas allowed only five hits, walked Val three times,got two big catches from their outfielder to save Cal from tying or going ahead, and held on for a monumental upset.
It's a little disorienting to see Val get pulled from a game like that, so now we have to reorient to a far different paradigm--win or go home. The Bears have to beat the winner of Boston/Iona tonight. Then they must beat this same Arkansas team twice (as opposed to only needing one win tomorrow, which is now where the Razorbacks sit) tomorrow to advance to the Super-Regional.
To do that, even if Jolene and Valerie are able to shut down hitting, the bats need to come alive. Through two games, Cal has 11 hits (and to be fair, 11 walks), but they've also left 14 on base, and nine were stranded today. Four of those hits are from Frani Echavarria, who's currently hitting ninth (baffling, since she has the second best OBP on the team). If I were managing, I'd move her up into the heart of the order, move Cordes (hitless through this game, and not really a good batter) out of the sixth spot (Kostreba might have been pressing because she knew Cordes's bat was next up), get Victoria Jones's bat into the lineup somewhere (Lindsey Ziegenhirt is a lineup liability), and pray like hell that Jace Williams (who's been in a funk) breaks out of her hitting slump.
Time to get three wins.