To close out their February schedule, the blue and gold return to Southern California to compete in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
In Cathedral City, Cal will face San Diego for the third time, currently holding a 2-10 record, in addition to Utah Valley with a 3-7 record, Cal Poly at 5-3, Iowa at 6-3 and Texas Tech at 10-2.
The Bears enter the weekend riding a four-game winning streak — largely because of contributions inside the batter’s box. Cal is third in the Pac-12 in runs scored with 79 and leads the conference in walks at 50. Impressively, the blue and gold also rank in the upper third in home runs, RBIs and doubles.
Although the offense has been dominant, the Bears’ pitching staff has also been stellar as of late. Cal has only allowed two runs in its last 21 innings pitched — a figure that eases the team on each side of the ball.
The blue and gold pitching staff is led by Haylei Archer. The junior has an ERA of 0.63 and an elite 4-0 record.
In regards to her mindset on the mound, she’s all business.
“I like to keep it simple … I’m just trying to attack the batter and get an out,” Archer said. “I know that if I produce any ground ball, fly ball, whatever it is, my team is behind me … just having trust is the biggest part of it all.”
Archer’s formula is working. She leads the team in strikeouts with 15 and has been a headache on the mound for opposing batters in every game.
Helping Archer and the pitching unit is first-year assistant coach Amber Freeman. The former head softball coach at Vanguard University brings high-level experience and has earned the trust of her players.
“She’s really good at preparing us,” said pitcher Anna Reimers. She added that Freeman provides “a pretty good scout, and calls pitches really, really well. So it kind of takes more pressure off the pitchers.”
Reimers, a sophomore, has been up and down to start the year but was electric in her last outing versus UC Davis, where she threw a complete game, allowing just one run en route to a blue and gold win.
The confidence and production on both offense and defense has been integral to Cal’s strong start to the season. So far, the Bears have defeated every opponent they’ve come across — a powerful sign that maturity and resilience are evident in the clubhouse.
Shortstop Tatum Anzaldo, named to the Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Team, spoke on the team’s level of confidence and the need to “build off the feeling of winning.” Cal has done just that, seeing as its nine wins were produced in the form of a five-game and four-game winning streak.
Anzaldo’s notion has surely spread throughout the locker room, considering that Reimers reiterated the message.
“I think we have a really good level of confidence … I feel like we work together really well and everyone, and everyone, especially on defense has a good trust in each other … we’ve kind of learned to grow from our mistakes.”
For third-year head coach and College World Series champion Chelsea Spencer, that’s exactly what you want to hear from your players.
The Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic will see the blue and gold in Southern California for the last time this season. After the tournament, the Bears will strictly play up north until March 17, when they head to Corvallis, Oregon to play the Beavers.
Softball in Berkeley is exactly what the doctor has ordered to boost the struggling Cal Athletics program. Cal fans just might be able to find refuge in a winning Cal softball program.