BERKELEY, Calif. – Senior second baseman Jace Williams strode to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs as No. 1 California trailed No. 3 Washington 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday at Levine-Fricke Field.
Facing UW hurler Kaitlin Inglesby, who had given up just one hit prior to the seventh inning and had not lost a game all year, Williams worked to a 2-2 count before roping the ball fair down the left-field line. On contact, Frani Echavarria came home from third to score the game-tying run. Jamia Reid rounded third and sprinted for home, racing the throw from left. Reid slid into the dish around the tag, scoring the game-winning run.
With the 2-1 win in hand, the Bears literally jumped for joy, crowding around home plate to celebrate.
“I knew that Inglesby would have to give a good pitch to hit because the bases were loaded, so I knew I would at least see three good pitches,” Williams said. “I was just trying to hit the ball hard.”
The win improved Cal to 31-1 overall and 4-0 in the Pac-12 Conference. The Bears halted the Huskies’ 19-game winning streak, which dated back to Feb. 26.
Before the seventh inning — in which the Bears worked Inglesby for three hits — Cal’s contact had been inadvertently directed right at Husky gloves.
Washington struck in the top of the third with Inglesby putting up her own run support by singling through the right side, scoring Victoria Hayward. The bottom of the fourth was particularly frustrating for Cal as the Bears tallied their first hit of the game, but left the bases loaded.
“We were fighting the whole game,” Williams said. “Anything that could go wrong did go wrong for us. It’s good that we kept our heads up and kept fighting instead of giving up, which we could have done early. We didn’t let the uncontrollables control us.”
Echavarria got the bottom of the seventh rally going with a well-timed double to center.
“I kind of struggled today at the plate,” Echavarria said. “I wasn’t getting my hands out. We were down by 1-0, and Jo was hanging in there the whole game. I just came out there thinking that one pitch, that’s all it takes. I didn’t want to make it bigger than what it is, but to take one good swing and get good contact and go from there. I knew everyone had been working hard this whole week and we really needed that win.”
With Jamia Reid followed with a single through the right side and went to second on a delayed steal. Valerie Arioto drew her third intentional walk of the game to load the bases for Williams, and the rest is history.
Inglesby suffered her first loss of the season, dropping the 6.2-inning decision to fall to 16-1.
Henderson pitched the seven-inning victory, allowing nine hits but keeping her ERA low with no earned runs. The junior right-hander struck out nine, seven of which came in the final three innings of the game. Henderson now stands at 17-1.
“I don’t think today was my best performance,” Henderson said. “But my team picked me up really well. They were getting bat on the ball and making plays behind me. It wasn’t the kind of day that I want but we’ll keep getting better.”