FULLERTON, Calif. – A trio of upperclassmen led the way to another four-win tournament sweep for No. 7 California (15-2) by generating four homers in two games against Indiana and Wisconsin on Saturday at the Easton Invitational. Cal beat Indiana 9-1 (10-8) in five innings followed by a 5-3 victory against Wisconsin (12-3).
“We came out firing on all sides. We’re always confident on defense, but getting those timely hits have been really helpful,” senior captain Lindsey Ziegenhirt said.
Ziegenhirt and fellow senior captain Jolene Henderson hit back-to-back home runs in the Indiana game, and junior Victoria Jones produced a homer in each game. Together the trio combined for eight RBIs. Jones went 2-for-5for four RBIs, Ziegenhirt went 3-for-5 and Henderson went 1-for-7. The entire team scored 14 runs on 15 hits on Saturday.
“We know that no one person can go out there and win the game. We thrive on the energy we produce, and since that first weekend we know we have to come out with so much energy, passion and tenacity,” Henderson said. “Our defense and energy was up there so we rode that.”
Both Henderson (11-2) and freshman Nisa Ontiveros (3-0) earned a win on the mound. Ontiveros allowed just two hits and one run in her game versus Indiana, while walking only one batter and striking out two. Henderson pitched a full seven against Wisconsin, striking out seven with no walks and three runs on eight hits.
Against Indiana, both teams went scoreless in the first inning, but Cal entered the second and was fired up to score all nine of its runs in that inning. Indiana started the inning by giving up a base to Henderson on an error by the second baseman. Ziegenhirt followed with a single to the left side and Jones then homered to right center for three RBIs.
Next, freshman Jasmin Mejia walked and the Bears kept their bats going with a single from sophomore Cheyenne Cordes. A ground out to first base by junior Britt Vonk allowed Mejia and Cordes to move a base forward, then sophomore Breana Kostreba was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Cal scored two more runs from Mejia and Cordes on a single up the middle by Danielle Henderson.
With Kostreba and Danielle Henderson on base, Jolene Henderson stepped up to the plate and thumped one over the center field fence to tack on another three runs to give Cal an 8-0 lead. Immediately after, Ziegenhirt followed with a bomb of her own for back-to-back home runs for California. The Bears ended the top of the second with nine runs on six hits.
The Hoosiers scored their lone run in the bottom of the second when third baseman Amanda Wagner walked, reached third on a throwing error by Danielle Henderson, then came in on a double by Shelby Cogreve.
Cal was prepared for a challenge heading into their second game. Wisconsin entered with just two losses in 14 games, carried by Badger ace Cassandra Darrah’s 8-0 record. Wisconsin’s Darrah nearly pitched the full seven for the Badgers, fanning two batters, allowing three walks and five runs on seven hits.
The Golden Bears got their break at the top of the second, starting with a walk for Danielle Henderson. Ziegenhirt singled up the middle and Danielle Henderson reached second before the pair capitalized on a double from freshman Vanessa Alvarez that nearly cleared the fence. The score stayed at 2-0 until the top of the sixth as Jones hit her second home run of the day to add another run to Cal’s total.
“We hit a lot of live pitches in practice, and it’s helping us see the ball well,” Jones said. “Our pitching performance and defense are so great so it’s really important to string together some hits to win the game.”
The Badgers cut the lead at the bottom of the sixth, using a double from catcher Whitney Massey to bring in shortstop Stephanie Peace, who got on base with a fielder’s choice and in the same play advanced on a throwing error by Vonk.
With a two-run lead at the top of the seventh, the Bears added another two runs in. Freshman Khala Taylor used her speed to triple, staying on third as Vonk singled and subsequently stole second. A single by Kostreba to left field gave Taylor the perfect opening to score while Vonk advanced to third. Vonk used a sac fly from Danielle Henderson to get home. Wisconsin nearly tied it up in the bottom of the seventh with a two RBI single through the left side from Peace, but the Bears closed out the game 5-3.