Bears drop the Thursday decision to fall one game below 0.500 at 23-24 with 5 games left on the regular season. To continue the long streak of reaching the NCAA postseason, the Bears need to finish above 0.500. Salt Lake City is known for the ball flying further in the thin air, yet the Bears were shutout on Thursday.
|Cal vs. Utah (Utah Softball Stadium | Salt Lake City, Utah)|
|Thursday||May 1||6 PM||Pac-12 Networks|
|Friday||May 2||5 PM||Pac-12 Networks|
|Saturday||May 3||5 PM||Pac-12 Networks|
The Bears fought hard last week against No.2 UCLA but found themselves falling just short in all 3 games. What could be a moral victory is that the Bears closed gap in each consecutive days, from a run-rule loss to 2 run loss to a 1 run loss. The Golden Bears' record now sits at 23-23 and it would need to be above 0.500 for the team to be eligible for the postseason.
With just two more series left (at Utah this week follow by vs. Washington at home next week), the Bears need to win these series to get some momentum before the NCAA.
pac-12 softball STANDINGS
While both Utah and Washington have better conference record than the Bears, they are teams that the Bears can beat.
About Utah (From the CalBears.com Gamenote):
The Utes are batting .306 overall and .264 in Pac-12 play, but like Cal have suffered through a relatively young pitching staff. On the overall offensive side, Kate Dickman has a .399 batting average plus 17 extra-base hits and 48 runs plus 36 RBI. Anissa Urtez (.325) has driven in 45 runs and scored 34 of her own with a team-leading six homers and 13 more extra-base hits. Kayce Nieto has an 11-11 record and 5.19 ERA in 33 appearances at pitcher for the Utes, while Sammy Cordova trails slightly behind with an 8-8 record but a 4.96 ERA in 31 appearances. Utah’s defense leads both the Pac-12 conference and the nation in double players per game, as the Utes have converted 40 double plays through 47 games.
In many ways, the Utes and the Bears are alike this season (except for the Bears having the better softball history). Balls are expected to fly further in the thin air of Salt Lake City (where Cal Rugby will play BYU on Saturday for the Rugby championship, by the way) and it will be up to Cal's own young pitching staff to keep the Utes in check.
For the Bears:
After facing top 10-ranked opponents for four weekends in a row, Cal’s batting average has dropped off slightly to .293. Pacing her team in nearly every offensive category is Cheyenne Cordes. The junior’s resume is highlighted by a .420 batting average, 13 home runs and 13 doubles. Danielle Henderson, Kylie Reed and Breana Kostreba are all batting above .300 and join Cordes at the top of the order. Utah’s high altitude could easily benefit Cal’s powerful offense, with eight different players hitting home runs in 2014 so far. The Bears are relying heavily on Stephanie Trzcinski (8-11) in the circle. The freshman now leads the team with 99.1 innings pitched and 83 strikeouts. Nisa Ontiveros (9-8, 3.92 ERA), Katie Sutherland-Finch (6-4, 6.48 ERA) and Taylor Cotton (8.47 ERA, 12 appearances) all saw action last weekend against No. 2 UCLA.
If the Bears want to continue their long consecutive NCAA berth streak, they cannot afford to have a letdown this week. By the RPI, the Bears (at 50) is way better than the Utes (at 75). Here is to hoping that the RPI is a decent predictor of who will win.