The Bears returned to Levine-Fricke Field for their last home series of the season, where they hosted the No. 14 Oregon Ducks.
The Ducks, who are now on a 13-game winning streak, rolled past the Bears to a series sweep — spoiling the bittersweet moments of Cal’s Senior Day. Despite suffering a series loss, the Bears were still a tough opponent for the Ducks.
The Bears had no issues getting on base, as they outhit the Ducks in game one, 9-8, but found struggles in bringing runners home — ultimately leaving nine runners on base compared to Oregon’s four.
“We hit well. It’s just that we didn’t really score runners when we needed to” said former Pac-12 freshman of the week Elon Butler. “We can come back with more energy and more fight.”
Butler has been a bright spot on the Bears all season, accumulating 37 hits, 8 home runs, 25 RBIs and a .314 on-base percentage, as she looks to fill the shoes that will be left by the outgoing seniors. Butler has also picked up some of the tendencies of her senior teammates, especially Makena Smith, as she has created a vocal presence on the infield.
“It’s more for the pitchers and it keeps me locked into the game too. I love being loud. I love being talkative,” Butler said. “I love hyping people up … it’s all part of me being a good teammate.”
Two games in, and the Bears have found themselves trailing 0-5 in both games. Though this Bears team has completed comebacks and executed walk-offs, accomplishing that against the likes of Oregon is a difficult task.
On Senior Day, the game saw nearly 900 people in attendance as families, friends and Cal fans came out to watch the Bears compete in their final home game of the season. Cal came with the energy that Butler mentioned, getting out to an early 3-0 lead.
Kacey Zobac started the tally for the Bears as her double to center field scored two runners. Shortly after, Smith sent a ball deep to left field for a solo home run, tying her career high of 13 in one season. Her final regular season home game was one for the books as Smith has cracked her name on the top five most home runs in Cal softball history, with 43.
Though no wins were accumulated this past weekend, the Bears saw the emergence of a young talent.
Freshman pitcher Ashanti McDade had her first crack at conference play this past weekend. McDade pitched a total of 4.2 innings and managed to strike three batters out, only allowing a .174 batting average in her limited time on the mound this season.
“I just prepare as much as I can during practices with Coach Freeman and just (do) my best to stay prepared for anything that comes my way,” McDade said.
The freshman looks to take on challenges and has put in the work to contribute to the team in her future with the blue and gold. Fans should look for more McDade appearances as the season rounds out and as she enters her sophomore campaign.
Cal now holds a 31-17-1 record and a 7-13-1 conference record as it enters its last three-game series of the season against the Arizona Wildcats. The competition within the Pac-12 has presented the Bears with some struggles, as five out of their eight opponents have been ranked within the top 25.
Given a 7-13-1 Pac-12 record, the Bears continue to find themselves at the sixth spot in the rankings with a possibility to drop even further given a series loss to the Wildcats. The Bears will return to action Friday as they look to finish their season on a strong note.