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Cal softball prepares for return to diamond at Easton Classic

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FEBRUARY 09, 2023

In what’s been a fascinating year for sports in Berkeley, Feb. 10 marks the awakening of the hibernating Cal softball team.

The Bears return to action this weekend after 270-plus days since the 2022 season to compete in the Easton Classic in both Fullerton and Los Angeles. The last season-opening stretch saw Cal go 4-1 with steady victories over Dixie State, Cal State Fullerton, San Diego and Colorado State, along with a 1-0 loss to Ole Miss.

The Bears, who finished last season with a record of 28-27-1, will take on San Diego, Loyola Marymount, Cal State Fullerton and Utah State across six games in the 2023 edition of the tournament.

The blue and gold have a chance to make an opening statement with quality road wins, as all four of their opponents notched over 20 victories this past season — with LMU and CSUF each winning an impressive 37 games.

It’s safe to say Cal has its work cut out in Southern California.

In recent years, Cal has generally fared well outside of the Pac-12 — with 20-11-1 and 14-9 non-conference records in 2022 and 2021, respectively. However, Cal’s main problems arise within the conference, where the Bears have been relegated to the bottom third of the Pac-12 since 2016. A minor positive, if viewed as such, is that Cal has split the last ten matchups with its rival Stanford.

The blue and gold will have to take advantage of their early-season games before conference play begins in March.

Cal, boasting two Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Team members, will rely heavily on Tatum Anzaldo (IF) and Makena Smith (C) to lead the way with their electric bats. The upperclassmen duo of Smith and Anzaldo hold the two-highest team batting averages, at .412 and .383, respectively. Also noteworthy, Smith is the only senior on the team and a dual-sport athlete. She earned a Pac-12 Goalie of the Week nod in 2021 when she stopped seven shots in Cal women’s soccer’s match versus Santa Clara.

Besides intimidating opposing pitchers, Smith and Anzaldo are also readily available, starting in all of their appearances in 2022.

Entering her third season, former Cal softball player Chelsea Spencer will direct the team from the dugout. Spencer started 277 games at shortstop as a Bear and was a part of four consecutive Women’s College World Series runs — crowned champion in 2002.

In addition to an impressive athletic record, Spencer also holds a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, having graduated in 2006.

Although the program is coming off a year only slightly above .500, Cal is a team built on great maturity between the bases. With 15 of 25 rostered players being upperclassmen, it’s fair to say that the blue and gold should be more comfortable than they were last season.

Direct beneficiaries of the team’s experience are the first-year players. There are five on the team this season, and they’ll have the opportunity to pick the brains of those familiar with the ropes. Experience and depth are both vital components of softball, and the blue and gold are healthy in that department.

A storied institution craves only the best, which is championships. But the Bears must play the season one game at a time. While Cal has struggled in years late, a new season always allows for new beginnings. Led by their storied coach and admirable upperclassmen, the blue and gold should be in for an exciting season.

Cal can set the tone for the year Friday against San Diego.

Contact Joaquin Ruiz at 


FEBRUARY 09, 2023