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Cal Softball takes on No.8 Washington needing a 3 game sweep to make the postseason

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Tough 3 game swept at Utah have greatly diminished the Bears' chance to make the post season. Bears have one last shot at continuing the long 20+ year streak of making the postseason as well as avoiding a losing season for the 1st time in a long time, if they can sweep the visiting No.8 Washington Huskies.

Must win series starts now for Cal Softball
Must win series starts now for Cal Softball
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Cal vs. No. 8 Washington (Levine-Fricke Field | Berkeley, Calif.)
Day Date Time (PT) Broadcast
Thursday May 8 3 PM Pac-12 Networks
Friday May 9 3:30 PM Pac-12 Networks
Saturday May 10 11:30 AM Pac-12 Networks
Live Stats:
Game Info: NotesTwitter (@CalSoftball)Instagram (@CalSoftball)

UPDATE: The following was written prior to Thursday's game.

With a record of 23-26, the Golden Bears NEED TO WIN their 3 remaining games, a 3 game homestand against No.8 Washington, starting this afternoon, to be post season eligible. Should the Bears be able to achieve this, they should be able to grab one of the 64 spots for the NCAA Softball postseason just based on the boost in RPI from sweeping the No.8 team in the country alone.

Shaky pitching has been the Bears' main problem all season long, after the graduation of Jolene Henderson. While she was pressed into action late last year after an injury to Jolene Henderson, sophomore Nisa Ontiveros again looked overmatched (but a lot less so) against many of the top teams in the Pac-12 (which also is synonymous for all of NCAA). Nevertheless, she still lead the Bears in ERA for the season with an even 4.00 (thanks in part for her being the Bears' starter for the season, against the weaker preconference foes) in 92.2 innings.

With the season winding down, let's take a closer look at the team ahead of what appears to be the final 3 games of the season.

Best newcomers:

Bears brought in a trio of freshmen pitchers in an attempt to fill the large void left by Jolene Henderson's graduation. The leading pitcher for the Bears in inning this year is Austrian freshman Stephanie Trzcinski. Trzcinski emerged as the Bears' ace for the tough conference season and consequently lead the team in losses with 13 (she has an 8-13 record overall). She tossed a no-hitter for the Bears against a non-conference opponent and currently has an ERA of 4.71 in a team high 107.0 innings. I would expect Trzcinski to be the starter for all 3 games this week, especially if the Bears are winning and postseason hope is still alive.

Katie Sutherland-Finch is another freshman arm for the Bears. She is a part of the 3 headed pitching staff for the Bears, with a close 3rd of 89.0 innings pitched, despite a rough ERA of 6.37.

Taylor Cotton has appeared in 12 games (1 start) for the Bears. Her 19 innings pitched and 8.47 ERA means that she is the lowest in the Cal pitching totem pole this year.

Infielder Kylie Reed is easily the newcomer of the year for the Bears. The current starting 2nd baseman, who played some short stop as well when Cordes couldn't play the field, is hitting a robust 0.351 for the season, good for 3rd best on the team. A prototypical slapper, her OBP is merely 0.363 and her slugging percentage is also just 0.391. Nevertheless, she can hopefully develop those aspects of her game in her Cal career.

Team MVP:

Junior SS Cheyenne Cordes lead the team in just about every offensive categories. The former US Jr National Team player is hitting 0.416 with a team best 13 homers and 40 RBIs OUT OF THE LEADOFF SPOT.

Honorable mention: The younger Henderson sister who is also a junior, Danielle is playing a solid 3rd base for the Bears. She has accumulated 12 homers with 37 RBIs  while hitting a team 2nd best 0.356.

Outlook for next year:

Even should the Bears sweep these next three games, they would likely be bounced in the NCAA Softball regional action. A No.2 ranked recruiting class of 5 standouts is coming to Berkeley in the fall, however, lead by a potential pitching savior in Kristin Cullen, the 37th best recruit in the country.

The best part of the lineup in juniors Cordes, Henderson, and Breana Kostreaba will also be back. Bears will miss senior catcher Victoria Jones, who has been solid all year long, but enough experience will be back to hopefully bring the Bears back to become national title contender again.