No. 13 Cal edges No. 17 Oregon
BERKELEY -- The Ducks may have outhit the Bears 8-7, but No. 13 California outscored No. 17 Oregon 2-0 on Saturday afternoon on yet another gorgeous sunny day at Levine-Fricke Field. What started out as a pitcher's duel, turned into a defensive battle once Cal got on the board with a two-run double by Frani Echavarria in the third inning.
With the win, Cal moves to 27-8 overall and to .500 in the Pac-10 Conference at 4-4 while Oregon drops to 30-10 and 2-6 in the Pac-10. No matter the outcome of Sunday's game, the Bears have notched their first Pac-10 Conference series victory.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, Britt Vonk at second, Jace Williams stationed at first at two outs, Frani Echavarria doubled to the wall in right center. The hit - her first double of the year - scored Vonk and Williams to establish a key 2-0 lead.
"Today we went over our strengths, our weakness and what the pitcher was throwing us," Echavarria said. "She was consistently throwing inside to the lefties so I made the adjustment and tried to get a good hit for my team to score some runs."
While Williams was crossing home, Echavarria went for third base, but was thrown out. Right fielder Christie Nieto hit the cutoff in second baseman Kaylan Howard, who threw to Courtney Ceo at third to get the third out of the third. No fear base running is a hallmark of Echavarria ball and her thoughts rounding second for third echo this.
"I knew she was going to throw, but I like to be a little bit more aggressive," Echavarria said. "I tried to take three to get into scoring position for my team. It just didn't go my way."
On the other side of the diamond, Jolene Henderson paved the way to the Bears' win. The sophomore hurler shutout the Ducks, striking out seven and giving up seven hits. During the first three innings, Oregon ended its at bats on looking strikeouts, stranding three in the first and two in the second. Though that was not apparent by talking to Henderson after the game.
"I wasn't pitching my best," Henderson lamented. "I hate giving up walks. Luckily, I have my teammates behind me on defensive and in the batter's box to back me up. Oregon's coach is smart and the Ducks are a difficult team to beat. There are no cakewalk games in the Pac-10."
Sam Skillingstad started and pitched three complete before Brittany Rumfelt relieved her in the fourth. Skillingstad allowed two earned runs off four hits and two walks, striking out two. Rumfelt held the Bears scoreless but not hitless, allowing two but fanning five.
To get on base in the third, Vonk popped it up into no man's - or no Duck's - land in shallow right center field for a single. She then moved to second thanks to a walk by Williams.
Vonk, along with Ashley Decker and Oregon's Ceo and Kailee Cuico all had a game-high two hits. Echavarria earned the right to the RBI. Cassandra Vega gained some pressure situation batting, for she pinch hit for Victoria Jones in the sixth.
The series with the Ducks continues Sunday with first pitch slated for noon. Sunday is also Albany Berkeley Girls Softball League day. After the game, kids can run the bases and get post-game autographs.