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Golden Medals: Great starts for Cal Baseball and Cal Softball leading to start of Pac-12 play

In this week's Golden Medals, we take a closer look at the great out-of-conference starts by Cal Baseball and Softball. We also take another look at the individual and relay Pac-12 titles won by Cal Men's Swimming last week.

It's the Bears vs. the top 10 ranked Ducks this weekend at Evans Diamond!
It's the Bears vs. the top 10 ranked Ducks this weekend at Evans Diamond!
Cal Baseball Facebook

With the basketball regular season over, it also means that Pac-12 play is starting this weekend for Cal Baseball and Softball. Both of those squads have been off to great starts.

Cal Baseball (13-3)

21-3 and 13-6 are two football score-like victories earned by Cal Baseball just during this past 7 days alone. Bears complete a nice 3 game sweep of the visiting Chicago State by the scores of 21-3, 5-4 (thanks to clutch hitting by Brian Celsi), and 8-1. Bears then tag on a 13-6 midweek win on Wednesday over Pacific.

In short, Cal Baseball is on a nice roll entering Pac-12 play against Oregon tonight. Bears have won 8 straight now and 12 of the last 13. The 3 game series against the Ducks starts at Evans Diamond tonight at 7 pm. Pac-12 conference play also means that we will finally get full KALX coverage of the games. You can listen to the games online via the KALX website. They even have an app that allows fans to stream the broadcasts.

Let's hear from head coach David Esquer, one of the pitching ace (Saturday starter) Ryan Mason, and the reigning National Baseball Player of the Week Brian Celsi on this Oregon series:

In case you can't watch the video, Esquer and the players are crediting the early season success on Evans Diamond now being a true home field advantage with regards to the growing fanbase that has consistently show up to cheer the team on. With the exception of one non-conference game down at the Farm (won by the Bears), the Bears have built their great non-conference record on playing all home games.

The team also credit the great start to strong pitching and defense. Bears got a nice one-two punch with sophomore Daulton Jefferies on Fridays and junior Ryan Mason on Saturdays. Dylan Nelson has been lights out as the closer for the Bears, getting 14 K's in just 8 innings.

Offensively, the Bears' numbers are skewed by a few of these scoring outbursts. Bears have scored double digit runs in 5 games already this year, including 21 runs last Friday night. The team overall has a slash line (BA/OBP/SLG) of 0.318/0.403/0.471.

Certainly, the Bears have not played the toughest out-of-conference schedule this season. Nevertheless, baseball is a game where superior talent doesn't also turn into wins. During this win streak, the number of clutch hits and close games won by the Bears should give our guys a nice mental edge heading into the always tough conference play.

Outside of Utah (and a down year by Furd which we obviously don't mind that much), the entire Pac has started out quite well in 2015.

USC 0-0-0 0.000 15-2-0 0.882
OREGON ST. 0-0-0 0.000 14-3-0 0.824
CALIFORNIA 0-0-0 0.000 13-3-0 0.813
OREGON 0-0-0 0.000 13-4-0 0.765
ARIZONA 0-0-0 0.000 15-4-0 0.789
UCLA 0-0-0 0.000 12-4-0 0.750
WASHINGTON ST. 0-0-0 0.000 13-5-0 0.722
WASHINGTON 0-0-0 0.000 12-5-0 0.706
ARIZONA ST. 0-0-0 0.000 10-5-0 0.667
STANFORD 0-0-0 0.000 9-8-0 0.529
UTAH 0-0-0 0.000 4-11-0 0.267

While the hot Bears start have merely earn them votes in the NCBWA poll, Oregon is currently ranked 5th in the country (do expect their ranking to drop since they dropped two midweek games at USF). That green Nike money has turned a team that was reinstated not all that long ago into a perennial powerhouse. What this really means is, should the Bears take this series, we should see the Bears shot up the rankings next week.

Cal Softball (21-1)

Cal Softball has also been off to a very strong start. Unlike Cal Baseball, Softball had to compile their record while being on the road every weekend traveling around the West Coast (including a trip to Hawaii) to tournaments. Along the way, the Bears have also beaten a few then top 10 ranked teams, sometimes in very dramatic ways.

Cal Softball will host their home opener when No.18 Arizona comes to Berkeley, starting at 3 pm this afternoon.

PAC play starts tomorrow ⚾️ #lovethegame

A photo posted by Cheyenne Cordes (@cheycordes27) on

The more experience pitching staff lead by sophomores Katie Sutherland-Finch and Stephanie Trzcinski have proven to be up to the task in non-conference play. They now must show that their offseason improvements are real and they can handle the always very tough Pac-12 opponents.

Like Baseball, Cal Softball also currently sport an insane cumulative team slash line of 0.373/0.457/0.543. That's a pretty insanely high OBP (even for softball). Both Danielle Henderson and Cheyenne Cordes have 5 homers to lead the team.


Cal Men's Swimming and Diving

While the Bears fell short of a three-peat at the Pac-12 Championships last week (thanks to the format favoring teams with stronger diving like USC and Stanford AND the Bears had some issue with depth after a couple of swimmers have gotten sick and had to be scratched), the Bears claimed 5 individual titles and 2 relay titles. That's 7 swimming wins out of 18 swimming events.

  • 100 Back - sophomore Ryan Murphy defended his title
  • 200 Back - Murphy also defended this title
  • 100 Free - Seth Stubblefield
  • 400 IM - Josh Prenot
  • 200 Fly - Long Gutierrez
  • 200 Free Relay
  • 200 Medley Relay

The main focus of the squad on the year, is of course always the NCAA rather than the Pac-12 Championships. The Bears will race for the team title in two weeks in Iowa.

Cal Rugby (12-1)

Bears wrapped up their 3rd consecutive PAC Rugby conference title this past weekend with an easy 105-5 (#drop100) win at Oregon State where many youngster got some PT. Bears are back in the Bay Area this weekend for a local match at Santa Clara.

The regular season will conclude next weekend on the away leg of the World Cup bout against University of British Columbia.

Cal Women's Water Polo (14-4, 0-1 in MPSF)

Conference play started last weekend for No.4 Cal Bears. Bears drew the tough task of facing top ranked UCLA. While the Bears kept things close to the Baby Bears early in the match, the Bruins were able to pull away late to win 10-3.

On a three game slide (against the top 3 teams in the country in UCLA, USC, and Stanford), the Bears will look to stop that slide.

Bears will take on No.9 San Jose State this weekend in another MPSF match.

Cal Women's Gymnastics

In the double dual meet with the Cal Men, the Bears closed their regular season home schedule last weekend against UC Davis. Behind the raucous home crowd, the Bears scored a season high.

Freshman sensation Toni-Ann Williams had another perfect 10 on vault.

She earned yet another Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award.

The Bears visits Southern Utah this weekend to close out the regular season schedule. The Pac-12 Championship will be next weekend when the Bears look to build upon a program best 4th place finish from last year.

Cal Women's Tennis (9-2, 2-0 in Pac-12)

Conference play started with the expected ease for the Bears as they took care of the mountain schools last week in a pair of 7-0 victories. That 7-0 means that the Bears won at least 2 of 3 in doubles and swept every singles match.

Bears will actually take a break from conference play when they visit San Diego State and Pepperdine this weekend. Then  next weekend, the Bears will face off against the toughest leg of conference play when they visit the LA schools in defense of Cal's 1st regular season Pac-12 title earned in 2014.