After falling short in its valiant efforts this past weekend against No. 8 Stanford, Cal bounced back into the win column against the Saint Mary’s Gaels and will follow up with a three-game homestand against the No. 13 Oregon Ducks.
This past Wednesday, the Bears remained local as they traveled down the road to Cottrell Field to face Saint Mary’s. The game remained relatively uneventful as Cal ended up beating Saint Mary’s 1-0.
The win gave sophomore pitcher Annabel Teperson her 10th win of the season, ultimately becoming the first Bear to reach double digits this season. A full workload on the mound had Teperson throw for a near-perfect game. A walk and hit were all that the Gaels produced in seven full innings to prevent the sophomore pitcher from accomplishing every pitcher’s goal. Nonetheless, the Bears completed a shutout and will look to replicate more defensive games like this.
Cal’s one-run game would be its fifth occurrence by the team this season. In those five games, Cal holds a record of just 1-4 — an area of concern heading into the last six games of the season. Moreover, of those five games, four of them were decided by two runs or less.
To be able to compete with the likes of higher-ranked opponents, teams must be able to find ways to edge out the close games. Though low-scoring contests have been a struggle for the Bears, they have thrived in games decided by one score. A record of 8-4 in those matches is testament to how well the Bears have been competing this season.
Looking toward the weekend, Cal will prepare to defend Levine-Fricke Field once more in a three-game home series against the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks currently hold the fourth slot in the Pac-12 standings with a 31-11 record and an 11-7 conference record. The 31-14-1 Bears, on the other hand, have hovered around the sixth spot for weeks, now with a current 7-10-1 record against the Pac-12.
After six series against Pac-12 opponents, Cal is 2-3-1. Defeating Oregon will provide Cal with the opportunity to end the season with a winning series record, barring losses in the season finale against Arizona.
Nonetheless, Oregon is a feat in and of itself, as the team is playing its best softball. A winning streak of nine straight games gives the Ducks the longest streak of their season. In those nine games, the Ducks scored 70 runs, allowed 12, pitched four shutouts and had a run differential greater than 58 — a force to be reckoned with in the box and on the mound.
Despite the red-hot Ducks running through their opponents, the Bears have had major and pivotal improvements on the mound. The bullpen for the blue and gold has found its groove and has been on a late-season surge. In their last nine games, they have held a record of 7-2, yet, in neither of their two losses did they allow more than three runs.
The second half of the season has showcased a different strategy from head coach Chelsea Spencer, as there’s been less of a committee on the mound during games. The starters have been doing their jobs, keeping the games close and always seeming to adjust to the flow of the game.
It should be interesting to watch how Cal’s pitchers go at the batters of Oregon early. Fans should expect a more aggressive pitching style to set the tone for the series.
Cal fans will have the opportunity to support and cheer for their home team one last time at Levine-Fricke Field on Friday at 3 p.m. for the first game, and the series will wrap on Sunday at noon for the final game at home.