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Golden Nuggets: Mikayla Cowling Could Be Picked in WNBA Draft Tonight, Dusty Baker Enjoys Being Baseball Dad

Zoe Conley honors Jackie Robinson with her softball uniform number of 42.

NCAA Womens Basketball: California at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

I sure hope having women’s sports as the headline and sub-headline doesn’t mean this article will get far less clicks... but that’s usually what happens. Prove me wrong everybody! (Then again, if they didn’t click this article they aren’t going to see this, now are they?) There’s plenty of revenue sport articles as well. Just didn’t find them headline worthy.

Football

  • Shortly after Jim Knowlton had his Press Conference, he spoke with the Cal Football team.
  • Congrats to Matt Anderson, J.D. Hinnant, Tony Mekari, Chas Peterson and Luke Rubenzer for making the Hampshire Honors Society, given to graduating (or turning pro) football players who earned a 3.2 GPA or better.

Basketball

  • Now for the headliner, the WNBA Draft is tonight and Mikayla Cowling (and multiple scouts) believe she will be selected, albeit in the later rounds.

Even a day ahead of Thursday’s WNBA Draft, there were still a variety of opinions about when — or even if — Cal’s Mikayla Cowling will be selected during the three 12-player rounds.

But few disagree that Cowling will work her way onto a roster and into a team’s rotation by the time the season begins next month.

“I think she has a good shot,” ESPN women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson said. “Her size is great. She’s got a big, strong body. She’s been an outstanding defender during her time at Cal. … She was moved around the floor at Cal, which showed her versatility and her ability to adapt.”

Baseball/Softball

  • From the Undefeated: Dusty Baker may not be managing in the major leagues anymore, but he’s loving life right now as he gets to watch his son Darren play for Cal. I won’t spoil it, but find out the names of some legendary MLB players who may wind up at Evans Diamond before Darren’s Cal career is over.

You want stats for the players? Oh, Baker can tell you those off the top of his head. His investment in Cal does not stop at his son; he’s taken a vested interest in each of the players on the team and is a crowd favorite at games. Spend one game sitting with Baker in the back row of the stands parallel to the first-base line and one can a learn a little bit of everything about each player on the team.

No. 10, Tanner Dodson, went to Darren Baker’s high school and is a great hitter, pitcher and outfielder, making him an intriguing prospect for the major league scouts. No. 20, Andrew Vaughn, can absolutely blast the ball — and he did so several times in the first two games of Cal’s series against UCLA on March 29-30.

No. 14, Jonah Davis, is an outstanding outfielder and has taken Darren Baker under his wing. No. 21, Jared Horn, is Baker’s favorite though. Horn is a fantastic pitcher and even better person, Baker explains, who around Thanksgiving last year lost his father, little brother, uncle and cousin after a drunken driver hit their car and caused it to flip.

Similar to the way Horn was surrounded by love and support after his family’s tragedy, Baker doesn’t question whether people would support his son in the same manner.

  • Zoe Conley wears 42 on her jersey and she explains why, plus other awesome facts in this great feature on the first black pitcher in Cal softball history...

“It’s nice to see that my role and what I want to be for college softball, pitching especially, is being noticed. It’s like, ‘Oh hey, you’re short, you’re black and you have an afro on the mound,’ people really like that. There are so many aspects to it that people notice that I didn’t realize they were going to at first.”

Being a visual outlier is something Conley accustomed herself to, but she also let it inspire her performances instead of questioning her belonging. Not only is Conley short, but she is just one of 10 black pitchers across all Power 5 Conferences (Pac-12, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and SEC) and just one of 2 in the Pac-12 along with Oregon State’s Nerissa Eason. The scarcity of black collegiate softball players, particularly pitchers, is something Conley is aware of. In fact, it is also why she wears baseball’s most recognizable, respected and ubiquitously retired number, 42.

”Not only was he a significant player in getting more black people and people of color into baseball but also into other sports,” Conley said about Robinson. “What I think is so special, though, was he managed to do what he had to do to further things for himself, but also the future of other colored players.

”It’s a conscious decision for me to wear the number; this means something,” said Conley, who initially wore number 24 for her birthday, which is May 24. But when she went to college the jersey wasn’t available, so she opted for 42 instead. The connection was perfect.

  • Andrew Vaughn was named to the Golden Spikes Midseason Watch List... and that was before he hit home run number 15 on Tuesday. The award is given to the best amateur baseball player every year.

Misc.

“It became clear during the search process that in Jim Knowlton, we found a special leader for Cal Athletics who is ready and able to guide this department at a crucial time,” said Cal women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb, one of two Cal head coaches to serve on the search committee along with head football coach Justin Wilcox. “The Berkeley campus, and Cal Athletics, are about excellence. I’m so excited to work with Jim as we elevate our department going forward. He is a collaborative leader with a keen mind and I know we’ll all benefit under his guidance.”

Before introducing Knowlton to Cal’s head coaches, Chancellor Carol Christ told them that some of Air Force’s coaches cried when they learned he was leaving.

”Some of them were tears of joy,” Knowlton joked.

  • Camryn Rogers is the Muscle Milk Student of the Week after setting the Big Meet and Cal record in the Hammer throw event.
  • Olivia Hauger is the Pac-12 Player of the Week in women’s tennis who racked up four wins (two in singles, two in doubles) last week.
  • We’ve had a lot of good news in this article, but here’s some alarming news regarding the Pac-12 Networks. Their drop in subscriber fees are so bad they currently rank below Fox Sports 2 and the World Fishing Network... but these numbers could be misleading.

GO BEARS!