The Trees were chopped amid two Cal wins in the blue and gold’s three-game weekend series against No. 24 Stanford.
The rivals faced off in Berkeley this weekend, presenting the test of who will emerge as the superior softball program in the Bay Area. Though there was not a decisive sweep of either team, Cal proved dominant in two of the three games. The Bears started on top and slowly let their momentum slip from under them.
These games were important for Cal softball’s conference record. Prior to this weekend, the Bears only won a third of their games against other Pac-12 teams. Coming out from a tough weekend at Utah, Stanford acted as a fork in the road for Cal: Will the Bears continue to let other Pac-12 teams step all over them, or will they take the lead in the conference?
This weekend proved that Cal is not ready to give up on the season and fall victim to Pac-12 teams.
Thursday’s game commenced the action packed weekend with a slow first three innings. With sophomore Sona Halajian in the circle, Cal had set up the first game with its best army supporting the team. Halajian held Stanford to no runs in the first three innings and only fronted two runs on its end. She completed the game with a victory under her belt, but it would not have been a comfortable win without the Bears’ big bats.
When Stanford scored the first run of the series in the top of the fourth inning, Cal retaliated. With freshman Acacia Anders on base from a walk and a single from Halajian, the Bears started the winning roll. Junior Amani Bradley brought her loaded bat to the plate and hit Anders into home, scoring the first run for Cal of the game. Soon, the Bears were up 5-1, only allowing Stanford an additional run in the top of the fifth to finalize the score, 5-2.
This game prompted momentum and confidence for the next.
In a suspenseful 10 innings, Cal just barely quenched the win. Whether intended, the Bears kept their fans on their toes.
Sophomore pitcher Haylei Archer stepped up in the circle for the first inning, holding Stanford to zero while Cal jumped out of the dugout with pride, scoring two runs off the bat. While Stanford attempted to tie the game, it failed to make it a zero-sum game and only scored one run in the second inning. Cal managed to keep its margin comfortable, scoring another run in the second inning. But while the Bears were able to get ahead, Stanford bounced back in the sixth and seventh innings, tying Cal’s score.
The unexpected eighth and ninth innings were scoreless, a game of tug-of-war that no team seemed to win. However, Stanford pulled harder than Cal could manage in the 10th inning, scoring one run that would have left it victorious. However, this run lit a fire in the soul of Cal’s players.
In the bottom of the 10th, sophomore Alexis Bishop put herself on base with a single while another player sacrificed herself for the win with a hit-by-pitch. When powerhouse hitter Bradley stepped up to the plate, Stanford laid down its weapons. Bradley doubled, driving in the final runs and concluding the game with a 6-5 score.
The Bears fell victim to the Cardinal’s retribution. Though Anders homered in the first inning, her one run did light a spark for Cal to rally. Stanford owned the Levine-Fricke Field in the final game of the series, winning 5-1.
Though Cal lost its final game, the weekend record favored the Bears and proved that they are ready to conquer more competitors — conference or not.
Cal is looking forward to its Wednesday game against UC Davis. On the Levine-Fricke Field, the Bears and the Mustangs will face off at 3 p.m. PST.