Cal Bears (28-27, 5-18 in Pac-12) took a pivotal game against Arizona State last Saturday to secure a winning record for the regular season. Outside of one losing season in 2014 (right after Cal ace Jolene Henderson had graduated and Bears could not find a suitable pitching replacement), Diane Ninemire’s squad has made the NCAA postseason every other season.
While the requisite for postseason is a winning record, apparently the Pac-12 (traditional softball powerhouse that has had to share that title with the SEC in the past decade) has finally let the Bears down. Cal has a RPI of 64 after the results of this past Monday after their regular season has been completed, but most other teams have a conference championships to play. In the NCAA field of 64, half of those spots go to automatic qualifiers.
Golden Bears are on the bubble for a postseason berth in 2019. While the RPI is low - there are both teams ahead of the Bears with losing records and teams behind the Bears who may earn an automatic bid in the numerous conference championships next weekend. While not a part of the RPI formula, Cal has avoided being run-ruled more often in the 2019 season (just twice) than in some of the previous ones when they got a postseason berth. Cal almost pushed a lot of teams, such as then top ranked UCLA Bruins, to extra innings before falling. Then again, the committee may see this as parity in the Pac where the Bears’ 5-18 conference record just does not look that good.
The NCAA selection show for softball is Sunday night at 6pm PT on ESPN2.
Since this might be the last time that I write about Cal Softball this season (if this is indeed the season), let’s take a closer look at this season.
Senior Lindsay Rood concludes her Cal career with another very strong season that saw her in a tie as the co-hit leader in the entire country with 78. Rood had a batting average of 0.396, an on-base percentage of 0.437, and even some pop now with a slugging percentage of 0.594 thanks to 16 doubles, 4 triples, and 5 homeruns. On the basepath, Rood is a perfect 30 for 30 in theft.
Behind Rood, the next best Cal hitter was Lauren Espalin with a batting average of 0.346 and on base of 0.408. A late surge by freshman Makena Smith has her tied with Rood with 5 homers; Smith has a batting average of 0.315 to be the only other Cal regular batting above 0.300.
RF Mikayla Coelho had a sophomore slump season and even got dropped from the starting lineup for some games late in the season. Coehlo had led the team in homers and RBI last year but only managed a batting average of 0.262 although her 8 homers is again a team best.
On the mound, although both Zoe Conley and Kamalani Dung started their collegiate career elsewhere, both seniors really embodied the Golden Bear spirit in their Cal career. Although both lacked the great stuff, they are both tough competitors who battle hard no matter the score. Dung finished the year with an ERA of 2.32 while Conley finished the year with an ERA of 3.93.
Freshman pitcher Alexandra Perez flashed some brilliance with an ERA of 2.02 in just 45 Innings Pitched. We shall see if the two-way player can handle the full pitching load later in her college career.
Hopefully, we will be pleasantly surprised to hear Cal’s name in the NCAA field tonight. This Golden Bears team is certainly capable of putting a scare in whatever Regional host IF they are given a chance.
If not, it was another entertaining season of Cal Softball as they played their final home games at Levine-Fricke Field ahead of a much needed facility upgrade.