May 21, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - After a slight rain delay, the No. 11-seeded California softball team lived up to its billing with a 10-0 mercy win over Bucknell on Friday afternoon in the NCAA regional at Ohio State's Buckeye Field.

Freshman hurler Jolene Henderson threw the first perfect game of her Cal career, fanning 10 batters. Junior first baseman Valerie Arioto and sophomore outfielder Elia Reid each homered to power the Bears to their eight-run third inning.

The Bears, who improve to 42-17 overall, will face the winner of the Kentucky-Ohio State game on Saturday at Buckeye Field.

Although the rain only resulted in a 20-minute delay in the first pitch, it did alter the warm-up rituals of both teams. The Bears and Bison warmed up in a nearby indoor field to wait out the rain.

Henderson got center fielder Lauren Fry on a swinging strikeout after she issued first and second-pitch strikes. Third baseman Mary Pavlovich had a grounder hit directly at Valerie Arioto, who made the dig and ran to first to get the second out of the first. It was a looking strikeout from Henderson to left fielder Jane Messersmith to end the inning.

With the corners playing in, Jamia Reid connected for a dribbler that fell flat in front of the plate. Catcher Elyse Colmenero emerged from behind the plate but did not even attempt a throw to first, where Reid easily reached. Reid stole second and Thomas walked to put two runners on for Arioto.

The Bears put on the double steal and the throw to third from Colmenero went into left field, allowing Reid to come home and Thomas to move to second. Messersmith bobbled the back-up and Thomas advanced to third. A wild pitch brought Thomas home, giving Cal an early 2-0 lead.

In true Arioto fashion, the junior utility player walked - her 75th of the season - with no outs in the bottom of the first.

Ziegenhirt connected on a change-up pitch that went right to Pavlovich at third, who threw to Jessie Snyder at second, where Arioto was out. Snyder threw to Alison Ford at first to turn the double play, getting Ziegenhirt out and giving the Bison their first two outs of the inning. Third baseman Jace Williams swung on a change-up, this one going to Snyder at second, where she easily fielded it and threw to first for the final out.

In the top of the second, it was a looking strikeout for Frani Echavarria, a one-hopper to short from Vernae Sevilla and a 5-3 ground out from Kelly sent the Bears down in order.

Designated player Shelley McCormack led off the top of the third with a grounder to Jace Williams, who threw cross-diamond to Arioto at first for the first out. It was a called third strike on Snyder and

After the Bears struggled to read the pitching in the first and second, Elia Reid had a lead-off hit that went high and into no-man's land behind second base. Jamia Reid followed up with a stand-up double to left-center. With Elia Reid rounding second, Cal head coach Diane Ninemire waved her home, which Reid easily reached.

Shannon Thomas placed a hit in the hole between first and second, past a diving Snyder for a hit, moving Jamia Reid to third. Thomas stole second without so much of a tag at second in the midst of Arioto's at bat. Arioto creamed a pitch for a homer over the wall in left-center field, plating Reid and Thomas to further distance Cal, 6-0.

Ziegenhirt looked to follow suit with a shot to right-center, but Fry made a great catch at the warning track for the out. Williams registered her 13th double of the season and moved to second when Echavarria grounded out to short.

Sevilla wasted no time in swinging for the fences, sending one pitch for a long foul ball outside the fence in left field. She then connected for what was rule a base hit into right field. Sherry Finkel got glove on the ball but failed the make the catch, allowing Sevilla to reach with Cal's seventh hit of the game. Kelly walked to give Elia Reid two baserunners.

With those two runners and two outs, Elia Reid homered just over the film stand in center field, increasing Cal's lead to double digits at 10-0 in the top of the third. That prompted a Bucknell pitching change with Bridget Gates relieving MacLean. The pitching change had no effect on Jamia Reid, who slapped to short for a hit. Thomas went down on a called third strike to end the eight-run inning.

Fry sent a dribbler back to the circle, where Henderson nabbed it and threw to Arioto at first to begin the top of the fourth with her Bears winning, 10-0. Henderson struck out Pavlovich and Messersmith to face the minimum.

To start the top of the fifth, Cal made several defensive changes. Shannon Houston replaced Elia Reid, who moved to center, while Jordan Wallace came in at second and Sevilla went to third.