Bears sweep defending champ UCLA
Monday, May 2, 2011
Category: Sports > Spring > Softball
After a pair of blowout wins earlier in the weekend, the No. 9 Cal softball team was on the verge of a home sweep against defending national champion UCLA - but the Bruins would not go down without a fight in Sunday's rubber match at Levine-Fricke Field.
No. 11 UCLA (31-13, 7-8 in the Pac-10) broke a 0-0 deadlock in the top of the sixth inning when pinch runner Devon Lindvall came home on an error at shortstop.
But late in the game, the Bears' Jamia Reid secured the sweep.
The junior left fielder reached home in the bottom of the sixth on a double by third baseman Jace Williams. And with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Reid hit a walk-off single with the bases loaded to deliver a 2-1 victory.
Reid came to the rescue in what had been a difficult game for the Bears (34-9, 10-5).
"(Sunday's tilt) was a real character-building game because we could have easily folded, especially when (UCLA) scored the one run on that error," head coach Diane Ninemire said.
Unlike the two earlier games - a 7-2 win on Friday and a 9-1 mercy victory on Saturday - Cal struggled to manufacture runs against the Bruins. Sunday's contest got off to a rough start, as Reid got caught stealing at second, while Britt Vonk and Williams quickly recorded the next two outs in the first inning. Seven Bears batters struck out against UCLA pitcher Donna Kerr.
And on the defensive end, Vonk struggled with a pair of errors on Sunday - including the one at shortstop that gave the Bruins their only run.
"Every time we tried to do something it just didn't seem like it was working out," Ninemire said. "I was really happy with the way Jolene (Henderson) just kept going to business and throwing her pitches and the defense settled down."
A workhorse in the circle, Henderson fought through the knotted game to come out with her 30th win of the season. The sophomore threw all three weekend games, giving up only four runs. Her astounding 0.77 ERA is among the lowest in the nation.
Henderson's performance was key to helping Cal hang close on Sunday, as she struck out nine batters and did not allow a single earned run in the complete-game effort.
"I felt like Jolene really kept us in," Williams said. "She keeps us in every single game when she is on the mound."
The three-game sweep against the Bruins marked the end of the Cal's home season and final push for the rest of conference play.
"This is the type of game that you can expect to be playing in the postseason," Ninemire said of Sunday's contest. "I hope that this will be one of the things that we can draw from going down the stretch when we need to - to know and believe that we can come through when we need to."
Kelly Suckow covers softball.
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