Cal Softball (17-1) continues to roll
In front of her family, Cal junior Kamalani Dung, a transfer from Fresno State, tossed a 12-strikeout gem for a 7-inning perfect game against UTEP (9-8). This is the first Cal perfect game since Jolene Henderson achieved this feat in a 5-inning mercy rule win back in 2010.
Dung continues the strong pitching effort from the Golden Bears so far this year. Both Dung and the reigning ace Zoe Conley have been great in the circle. The two pitchers have thrown every innings for the Bears thus far and combined for a 1.09 ERA with 138 strike outs in 116 innings to just 28 walks. With the changes to the postseason in the last decade, a team really needs two reliable workhorses to succeed in the postseason.
Even with Dung’s perfect game, Conley has been even better this year with an ERA of 0.91 to go with an 8-1 record and 4 saves. Most of the damage against Conley came in the lone loss for the Bears, a 5-1 setback against the 7th ranked Texas A&M last weekend from Palm Springs. Otherwise, the Bears have tossed 9 shutouts to go with 4 games where they have allowed just 1 runs.
In addition to the pitching, the Cal offense has been pretty consistent. The whole lineup slash a 0.328/0.403/0.489 line that’s recipe for 5.83 runs per game. Senior Kobie Pettis has been an on-base machine to lead the Bears with a 0.408/0.524/0.592 line, thanks to her team leading 11 walks. Freshman Mikayla Coelho leads the team with 4 homers and 18 RBI to go with a 0.393 average. Cal’s USA National Team member shortstop Jazmyn Jackson (0.344/0.397/0.426) just needs to be one of the cog in this Golden Bear offensive machine. While I can’t find the data, I do wonder how the predominantly lefty Cal lineup has fared this year against a left handed pitcher.
Bears are also aggressive on the basepath with 27 steals out of 33 chances. Lindsay Rood is a perfect 11 for 11 on the basepath. That is when she is not hitting extra base hits (5 doubles, 3 triples, 2 homers) for the Bears.
Looking at the remaining non-conference schedule, the Bears really don’t face anyone that great the rest of this weekend in Hawaii or next weekend in Fresno. Bears will then open the always hard Pac-12 play on March 16th from Oregon State. Bears will get amble chances then to prove if they are just a solid top 20 team playing weak opponents or a great team (top 8) capable of making it to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series. Nevertheless, it does appear that Cal Softball, the first Cal women’s program to win a team national championship, is back to at least top 16, which would be a favorite in a Regional, in 2018.
Quick Recaps of the games since last Friday:
From Palm Springs, CA
Cal 4, North Carolina 3
Bears opened the 2nd Palm Springs trip with a tough fought win. Dung gave up a three-run homer to the Tar Heels in the 2nd, but the Bears got that back to go-ahead for good when Bradie Fillmore hit a three-run bomb of her own in the 6th.
Cal 1, Texas A&M 5
The only blemish in the Cal Softball season came against the ranked Aggies (the only ranked opponent for the Bears so far this year). Bears had some chances against Texas A&M’s Maddie MacGrandle but left 8 on base. Conley went the whole game for the Bears, allowing a solo homer. Only 4 of the 5 runs against her were earned.
Cal 8, CSUN 0 (5 innings)
Bears scored in 3 of the 4 innings while Dung tossed a shutout in this easy win. Both Coehlo and Espalin have 3 RBI each.
Cal 3, Cal State Fullerton 0
Conley goes the distance in this first game of the day’s doubleheader for the Bears. Jackson hit her 1st homer of the year - a two-run shot.
Cal 6, Long Beach State 5
Bears won this one via a walkoff double down the line from Coehlo with two outs. Dung had struggled to spot Beach 3 runs, before Conley came in to calm things. Bears had their own big inning of 5 runs in the 3rd but Beach eventually tied the game in the top of 7th.
From Honolulu, Hawaii
Cal 5, Hawaii 0
Dung started this one with Conley getting the 2.2 inning save. Freshman Coehlo hit a homer during the 4 run Cal 5th.
Cal 4, UTEP 0
Dung’s perfect game was backed by 4 runs scored by the Bears in the first. The very first run was manufactured by the speed of Rood and Jackson on a double steal of home and 2nd.
Bears will conclude their Hawaii stay with games against James Madison (Friday), East Carolina (Saturday), and Longwood (Sunday).
Cal Baseball (5-2) looks to sustain hot hitting this weekend at the Frisco Classic
Similar to Cal Softball, one of the first test of the season for Cal Baseball will be against Texas A&M. Bears will play Baylor, Louisiana Tech, and Texas A&M at the Frisco Classic this weekend. The games are Friday at 1 pm PT, Saturday at 12 pm PT, and Sunday at 9 AM PT, respectively.
The games will be streamed on Facebook.
Getting ready for the Frisco Classic! pic.twitter.com/6k7cooZqVH— Frisco Classic (@FriscoClassic) February 26, 2018
Last weekend, the Golden Bears dominated the visiting CSU Bakersfield in a 4 game series. Bears won 17-6, 5-3, 23-2, and 13-2 against a team that clearly does not have the pitching depth.
Outfielder Jonah Davis won the Pac-12 Baseball Player of the Week honor for going 8 for 14 with 1 double, 1 triple, 2 home runs, 5 runs scored, and 12 RBI.
Even more impressively, Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn already has 5 home runs on the year. While the college record is 48 home runs by Pete Incaviglia (Oklahoma) in 1985 in 75 games (that’s a long postseason run), there are merely 20 cases of someone hitting 31 home runs on the year. Vaughn hit two homeruns down in San Diego and added two more in the opening game against CSUB. He hit one more in the 23 run Cal outburst but got walked 6 times in the final 3 games of the series. On the very young season, Vaughn has been impressively slashing a line of 0.542/0.676/1.208 to go with a team high 13 hits and 5 home runs. If he can continue that pace in the hot Texas weather this weekend, he will quickly be gaining some national attentions.
Along side Vaughn, Tyrus Greene (0.520 - a catcher hitting leadoff!) and Jonah Davis (0.423) are also hitting at an insane rate. Slightly more human, Korey Lee, Max Flower, and freshman Darren Baker are hitting above 0.320.
As a team, the Bears are currently hitting 0.361/0.450/0.563 to score 10.43 runs per game. While these small sample size numbers are clearly unsustainable, they are fun to look at anyhow.
Pitching-wise, the Bears have depended on sophomore RHP Jared Horn (3.60 ERA, solid 15 K’s in 10 IP but needs to go deeper into games), senior RHP Joey Matulovich (4.66 ERA with a couple of rough starts), senior LHP Matt Ladrech (3.27 ERA but gave up a team high 2 homeruns), and RHP Rogelio Reyes (1.00 ERA, 7 K’s in 9 IP).
This past weekend, Bears even debuted RHP Conor Neumann in relief. Neumann was a prolific goal scorer for Cal Men’s Water Polo who recently completed his 4 years of eligibility in the pool.
In the age of sport specialization its great to see an “athlete” succeed. Conor Neumann All American and National Champion @CalWaterPolo player goes back to his “1st sport” and makes the @CalBaseball team. 1st game line 1 IP 2 SO No runs. #GoBears #niceparka @mark2polo pic.twitter.com/uBPSJfds9E— CalCoachEverist (@CalCoachEverist) February 24, 2018
P.S. I will be back in Berkeley for a Cal alumni conference next weekend, which also means the chance to check out some Cal Baseball games (Cal Golden Bear will host the Brown Bears). I am looking forward to see the action in person, but will be mindful to not overweigh that one weekend of performances.