As Pac-12 play continues, the Bears find themselves on the road once again.
The Cal softball team is headed to Salt Lake City, Utah, to take on the Utes in a three-game series. The No. 17 Bears (26-7, 4-5 Pac-12) will kick off the series against Utah (24-13, 2-7) on Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Dumke Family Softball Stadium.
The Bears are fresh off of their first Pac-12 series win, taking down Oregon State last weekend in a three-game series at home. Despite some offensive struggles from Cal last Sunday, the Bears are still comfortably sporting a .343 team batting average, high enough to rank fourth in the Pac-12.
“We just need to stay within ourselves — we weren’t so much trying to do too much, as it was just an off weekend (against Oregon State),” said senior Cheyenne Cordes. “We need to focus on everything, but we need to wake our bats up a little bit.”
The good news for the Bears is that they are very capable of waking up the bats — Cordes herself hit three home runs in one game in a 13-4 win against Sacramento State last Wednesday. Helping Cordes lead Cal’s offensive drive is freshman outfielder Jazmyn Jackson, who has been the Bears’ leadoff hitter for the majority of the season. Jackson has consistently delivered for the Bears. She currently leads the team with a .467 batting average, high enough to be ranked third in the conference so far.
While Jackson starts off the bats for Cal, senior redshirt infielder Britt Vonk is right behind with a .433 batting average. Vonk, usually hitting in the two spot, leads other offensive categories — she has a .566 on-base percentage, the highest on the team.
Cordes and senior infielder Danielle Henderson are also capable of delivering big hits for the Bears and have consistently been doing so — they record a .364 and .391 batting average, respectively. Cordes also leads the team in home runs with 10 on the season.
Challenging the Bears’ offense will be Utah’s pitching staff, whose 2.65 ERA is the third best in the conference. Utah freshman Miranda Viramontes and Katie Donovan led the way for the team’s sweep against Southern Utah this past weekend, and have a 2.69 and 2.55 ERA, respectively, this season.
The Utah pitching staff will be dueling against Cal’s sophomore pitchers Stephanie Trzcinski and Katie Sutherland-Finch, both of whom have been a large part of the Bears’ continuing dominance. Defensive reinforcement for the Cal pitching staff has been provided by Cal’s .971 fielding percentage, second in the Pac-12 only to the Utes, who record a .978.
Now the Bears are hoping to harness the positive momentum gained after claiming their first series win last weekend and gain another one against the Utes.
“Every team in the Pac is no joke,” Cordes said. “We’ve been playing really tough games and we don’t always get the outcome we want, but playing tough games is going to help a lot in the future (when post-season starts).”