Bears Drop First Decision of Year to No. 23 North Carolina

Photo: <b>Junior Melissa Drewrey</b> pitched a one-hit shutout for the Bears against Penn State in the final game of the weekend. Drewrey improved her record to 5-1 on the season.
Aditya Rohilla/File
Junior Melissa Drewrey pitched a one-hit shutout for the Bears against Penn State in the final game of the weekend. Drewrey improved her record to 5-1 on the season.

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Nikki Schrey was being waved on as she rounded third base, representing the game-tying run in the top of the sixth inning against the No. 23 North Carolina softball team.

But left fielder Kelli Wheeler preserved the Tar Heels' 4-3 lead by throwing a rope to catcher Brittany McKinney, who was waiting for Schrey as she came sliding into home.

The Tar Heels (8-2) sealed the deal in the top of the seventh at home in Chapel Hill, N.C., handing No. 9 Cal its first loss of the season at the Carolina Classic.

After crushing Wichita State, 8-0, on Friday morning, Cal (7-1) forced the issue early Saturday afternoon by jumping out to a 2-0 lead over North Carolina in the top of the first.

In the bottom half of the second frame, the Tar Heels loaded the bases against the Bears' Marissa Drewrey (5-1) and pinch hitter Stephanie Murad floated a screwball over the wall for the go-ahead grand slam, accounting for four of the five runs that Cal allowed all weekend.

Drewrey and Valerie Arioto (2-0) each had stellar performances in the weekend's other games. Drewrey was one out away from a no-hitter in the 4-0 victory over Penn State despite walking nine batters. And against George Washington, Arioto struck out 16 and walked none in a 5-1 victory.

But Cal coach Diane Ninemire was not swayed.

"(This season) we have been fortunate that our runs have covered up our (pitching) mistakes," Ninemire said. "Good teams will take advantage of nine walks."

Cal was less fortunate against North Carolina, as it left nine runners on base in the 4-3 loss.

"You wouldn't believe how fast the balls came screaming off of our bat heads," Ninemire said. "I don't think I've ever seen a team hit the ball as hard as we did (in the North Carolina game), but they were right at them."

The Bears' bats were screaming for most of the weekend, scoring 20 runs in four games.

The Reid twins continued their college softball honeymoon, as Elia finished the Classic batting .478 with 10 RBI and Jamia hit another two home runs to bring her total to five on the season.

The Reid twins account for 22 of Cal's 36 stolen bases, and Jamia adds on a .429 batting average with an astounding .964 slugging percentage.

The Bears have both ends of the age spectrum working at the plate, as senior Gina Leomiti is another reason for the increased offensive output with 11 RBI and a .304 average, including a two-run bomb against Wichita State.

The senior won't have to wait long to get another chance at improvement, as the Bears open at home against Santa Clara on Wednesday.

"We need to see better decisions at the plate," Leomiti said. "We can't swing at those bad pitches. We need to be able to come through with those timely hits when we need them most."


Contact Joseph Cannon at [email protected]

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