Save the Date

The spring sports teams are now past the midway mark of their seasons. Here are some key games left on their schedules.

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BASEBALL

It's a ways off, but circle May 21, 22 and 23 on your calendar.

That's the weekend that No. 1 UCLA visits Evans Diamond for a three-game series against the No. 21 Cal baseball team. And it could be a showdown that has crucial implications for the Pac-10 championship.

The Bears (20-10, 6-3 in the Pac-10) are currently tied for first in the conference with No. 3 Arizona State, half a game ahead of the Bruins. UCLA and Cal combine for a tantalizing matchup. The Bruins currently have a Pac-10-best 2.36 team ERA. The Bears have one of the better offenses in the conference, batting .328 as a squad.

Cal has also proven that it has a starting rotation that can potentially win championships. Justin Jones is fourth in strikeouts (56) in the conference, and tied for first in wins (seven in 10 decisions).

-Katie Dowd

RUGBY

The Cal rugby team enters postseason play as the second overall seed in its quest for a national championship. On the other side of the bracket sits top-seeded BYU, a painful reminder that right now, the defending champion Cougars are technically the pre-eminent collegiate rugby program.

The Bears were stunned in last year's championship by BYU, 25-22, and could very well meet them again this season-that is if they can win three games first. Cal flies out to Marietta, Ga., for the rounds of 16 and eight this weekend, where it will first face off with UCLA and, if it wins, play the winner of Penn State and LSU.

The Bears are expected to cruise through the first two games, which sets up potential matchups with San Diego State and either BYU or Utah at Stanford for the final four and championship games. With a senior-laden group of backs and the bad memories still fresh, Cal needs to get to No. 1 to make the dream come true.

-Gabriel Baumgaertner

SOFTBALL

The Pac-10 hasn't been kind to the No. 15 Cal softball team. A three-game series against ninth-ranked Stanford two weekends ago saw the Bears lose twice. This past weekend's trip to No. 21 Oregon put them on the wrong end of a sweep.

After starting off the preseason with just six losses, Cal now sits at the bottom of the conference at 1-5, tied with Oregon State.

Washington has had no such struggles. The top-ranked defending national champions-backed once again by Danielle Lawrie, the reigning national player of the year-are currently tied with the Ducks atop the standings with a 5-1 record. This past weekend, it swept No. 2 Arizona for the first time in program history.

In two weeks, the Bears will host the Huskies three times-games that will go toward proving to themselves that they have what it takes to return to the Women's College World Series.

-Jack Wang

M. TENNIS

When the No. 15 Cal men's tennis team hosts No. 7 Stanford on Saturday at 1 p.m., at the Hellman Tennis Complex, it will be more than just the average rivalry match.

For starters, if the Bears (12-6, 3-2 Pac-10) win the regular season finale, they have a chance to finish in a second place tie in the Pac-10. If they lose, the Cardinal (15-5, 4-1) could clinch a share of the championship.

Cal rallied to beat Stanford 4-3 back on Feb. 20 on the Farm, but has not swept the season series since the 2006-07 season.

But mostly, Cal wants to finish the regular season ranked in the top-16 in the country. That would enable the squad to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. The Bears are currently ranked No. 15; a win would almost assure them of hosting. A loss, on the other hand, would probably send them packing come tournament time.

-Jonathan Kuperberg

W. TENNIS

With only two games left on the regular season schedule for the Cal women's tennis team, the attention turns toward finishing strong and winning the conference.

The meeting on April 17 against arch-rival Stanford may be the toughest test and the biggest obstacle toward achieving that goal for the Bears.

The Cardinal currently hold first place in the standings with a 6-0 conference record and 17-1 overall mark.

Cal, along with UCLA and USC, is only one game behind. The Bears have a 17-4 overall mark.

Stanford got the better of the matchup on March 6, as they came into Hellman Tennis Complex and handed the Bears their worst loss of the year, winning 5-2.

Cal has been strong in doubles all season, but not against the Cardinal, as it lost on all three courts in the first matchup.

It marked the first and only time the Bears have lost on all three doubles courts this season.

The Bears would love nothing more to avenge the earlier loss and make a push for another conference title prior to the Pac-10 Championships.

-Jeff Carillo

W. POLO

February's narrow 10-7 loss at Stanford was the first of the season for the Cal women's water polo team after starting the year 9-0.

The No. 3 Bears (23-5, 4-2 in the MPSF) bring another nine-game winning streak to Avery Aquatic Center for this weekend's season-ending rematch with the No. 2 Cardinal (19-1, 4-0).

Streaks aside, Saturday's 6 p.m. conference showdown may be the final opportunity for the Bears' decorated senior class to earn a win over Stanford.

This year's installment of the Big Splash also holds major postseason implications.

Should UCLA fall to top-ranked USC earlier in that same day, Cal would be playing to lock up a number 3 seed in the upcoming MPSF tournament-the team's highest ever seed during head coach Rich Corso's tenure with the program.

A victory would also add to the team's resume for a potential NCAA at-large bid.

The MPSF tournament begins on Apr. 30 and runs until May 2.

-Ed Yevelev

W. GOLF

The Cal women's golf team has had a rough go of it this spring, but all of that can change next week.

Golf possesses a uniquely forgiving quality-a team can have an up-and-down season and still come away the conference champion.

With the bitter taste of a 13th-place finish at last weekend's PING/ASU Invitational still in their mouths, the Bears have the opportunity to almost immediately rewrite the story of their spring.

Starting on April 19, Cal travels to the Pac-10 Championship in Eugene, Ore., for the three-day tournament. Regardless of what came before, a win at this tournament would crown the Bears champions.

They've certainly got the talent to do it. In spite of a back injury incurred by Daniela Holmqvist, Cal still has a high caliber lineup.

German native Pia Halbig brings both poise and experience as a competitor in international competition in Europe.

Emily Childs, Joanne Lee and Diane Kwon also stack the Bears' card with talent.

-Katie Dowd

Tags: CAL WOMEN'S GOLF, CAL MEN'S TENNIS, CAL WOMEN'S TENNIS, CAL RUGBY, CAL WOMEN'S WATER POLO, CAL SOFTBALL, CAL BASEBALL


Contact the sports desk of The Daily Californian at [email protected]



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