May 22, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - With Valerie Arioto crushing her 18th home run of the season in the top of the first, the No. 11-seeded California softball team defeated Kentucky, 1-0, on Saturday afternoon on the second day of the Columbus Regional. Freshman Jolene Henderson, fresh off a pitching a perfect game on Friday, earned the win.

The Golden Bears will play Sunday for a chance to advance to Super Regional. Cal will face either Kentucky, host Ohio State or Bucknell on Sunday depending on the afternoon games on Saturday.

After two pop ups - Jamia Reid and Shannon Thomas - began the top of the first, Arioto sent a pitch flying over the wall in center field, giving Cal an early 1-0 lead.

Kentucky made things interesting with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Left fielder Annie Rowlands singled singled up the middle and designated player Kara Dill walked. Freshman pitcher Jolene Henderson then struck out Kentucky's leadoff hitter in Molly Johnson for the final out of the game.

Frani Echavarria two catches in center field - one of which was a highlight-reel worthy diving catch - to help the Bears shut down the Wildcats with just one hit in the bottom of the first.

Kentucky got its second baserunner of the game when first baseman Samantha DeMartine walked on a very close ball four. DeMartine was replaced by Macy Allen as a pinch runner, and Allen advanced to second thanks to a sacrifice bunt from center fielder Megan Aull. The Bears got out of the inning unscathed thanks to a catch by Jamia Reid just fair of the left-field line and a 3U groundout by Arioto.

Taylor Kelly walked on a similar call to the DeMarine walk in the previous half-inning to start the third with the Bears still leading, 1-0. Kelly moved to second when Jamia Reid grounded out to the pitcher. But at second Kelly would remain when senior second baseman Shannon Thomas popped up to right, ending the inning.

After sending the 'Cats down in order in the bottom of the third, Cal left another Bear stranded at second in the fourth. Arioto walked, her 76th of the season, and moved to second thanks to a sacrifice groundout from Ziegenhirt. However, Williams flied out to left and Echavarria had a grounder to second for the final two outs of the top of the fourth.

Catcher Megan Yocke led off in the bottom of the fourth and connected for a grounder at Kelly. Kelly fielded it cleanly, but the throw to first went over Arioto's head, but Yocke had reached nonetheless with a hit. A bunt laid down inches in front of the plate by third baseman Brittany Cervantes advanced Yocke to second while Ziegenhirt made the successful throw to Thomas first for the out.

Henderson struck out DeMartine and Shannon Thomas made a catch in foul territory near first for the final out of the inning.

In the top of the fifth, Kentucky second baseman Natalie Smith robbed Sevilla of a hit when she made a leaping catch on a shot headed to right. Elia Reid registered Cal's second hit of the game with one to left, but she would be left on base with the Bears still holding the 1-0 advantage.

Smith was responsible for the Wildcats' third hit when she put one on the ground past a diving Kelly at short. Yocke then earned a one-out walk to give Kentucky two baserunners for the first time in the game.

A called third strike gave Henderson a KL and the Bears a second out. Thomas got under a pop up to end the sixth with that precious 1-0 lead still intact.