While many dedicated fans of Cal Softball know about Bebe, Sports Illustrated is spreading the story to a much broader audience.
An important member of the California softball team was absent when the Golden Bears faced Washington for a berth in the College World Series last weekend in Berkeley. Barbara Wiggs, better known as Bebe to her friends—which is to say, to everyone who's ever met her—had a previous engagement at Disneyland, but her teammates didn't hold it against her. Bebe is only five years old, and besides, the Bears feel that she's with them even when she's not.
Last Friday, the day before the opener of the best-of-three series, Bebe was on the phone with assistant coach Tammy Lohmann, giving her a pep talk to pass on to the players. She wanted them to stay strong and be sure not to get discouraged even if something somehow went wrong (which wasn't likely, considering that Cal, the top-ranked team in the nation, entered the series with a 54--5 record). The Bears took the words of their honorary teammate seriously because Bebe has a 50-year-old's wisdom in her five-year-old soul. "When she talks about strength and about not giving up, it carries more meaning," says pitcher Jolene Henderson. "If there's anyone who knows what it takes to keep fighting, it's her."
Bebe's fight is against a rare form of brain cancer. When she was two, doctors discovered a tumor that occupied more than 25% of the space inside her skull. More than 17 hours of surgery could not remove all of the growth, and she has since endured 18 months of chemotherapy and radiation as well as the accompanying nausea, hair loss, mouth and throat sores and loss of appetite. Twice during the last three years Bebe's parents, Geoff and Nancy, were told that the outlook was hopeless. "They said we shouldn't worry about long-term treatment because there wasn't going to be a long term," says Geoff, an attorney from Half Moon Bay, Calif., "but I'm stubborn, I guess."
So is Bebe. What's left of the mass hasn't grown; her soft dark hair has come back; and as her strength has returned she has made the Bears stronger, which is funny because they thought it was their job to support her. Bebe, who loves popcorn, the color pink and Disney princesses, is "an insanely positive child," her father says. She has become a de facto assistant coach in charge of attitude, cheering in the stands when she's not on the field pumping up the players. "I hope we've given her half the inspiration she's given us," says coach Diane Ninemire. The Bears, who wear Bebe's initials on their batting helmets, have given her a locker in their clubhouse, complete with a pint-sized recliner, and last Saturday some of the players tapped the chair for good luck before taking the field.
After the jump softball takes down LSU, men's golf mounts a furious rally in the NCAA Championships, and men's crew starts off strong at the IRA Championships.
- Tosh Lupoi self-reported a secondary recruiting violation. His recruiting was limited during the past six weeks of spring evaluation.
- Uncle Ted looks ahead to who will be the Pac-12's 3000-yard passers this season. As he was a 2990-yard passer last season, Zach Maynard is an obvious candidate.
- Trajuan Briggs has decided to transfer to New Mexico.
- Jeff Tedford posts a picture of the Cal video office, where he was watching today's Cal softball game among other things.
- Cal came back from a 2-0 deficit to post a 5-3 win over LSU. The Bears next play ASO Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts and Oklahoma tomorrow evening.
- A missed connection in Houston kept several members of the team from getting to Oklahoma City until 2:30am on Wednesday. Coach Ninemire, Jolene Henderson, Jamia Reid, Frani Echavarria, and Elia Reid were among the sleep-deprived Bears.
- Faraudo breaks down the Bears' WCWS bracket. The Bears open against the terrific pitching of LSU and will face the explosive offense of Oklahoma or the excellent pitching of South Florida.
- Faraudo has more on the solid pitching the Bears will face throughout the weekend.
- Valerie Arioto and Jolene Henderson were named to the National Fast Pitch Coaches Association All-America first team and Jamia Reid earned a spot on the second team.
- Tony Renda was named to the first team All-Pac-12 for the third consecutive year. Mitch Delfino and Matt Flemer were honorable mentions.
- The Bears got off to a rough start at the NCAA Championships and were 15th after day one. Cal moved up to a tied for 8th after day two. The Bears have climbed as high as 4th in this afternoon's events. The top eight teams after Thursday's round will advance to match play.
- In anticipation of this weekend's 7s tournament, Cal rugby alum Andrew Lindsay is rallying Cal fans from New York to attend the weekend events in Philly. The events will be broadcast on NBC at 11am PT on Saturday and Sunday.