Personal Goals to Be Tested in Bears' Weekend Tournament

Weaker Competition Means Cal Can Focus On Refining Its Own Game in Fresno Tourney

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When asked about where the No. 11 Cal softball team currently stands halfway through preseason play, catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt chuckled.

"I think we have been through enough of a roller coaster, where we should flatten out by now," the sophomore said. "We have seen where we could go, now it is time to get there."

But with only two losses in 14 games so far, the term "roller coaster" does not seem to fit. Given the rarity of demanding competition the team has seen thus far, the players have been able to see success, despite the room for personal improvement.

"As a team, we evaluate ourselves at the end of the weekend," she said. "Sometimes, even if we win games 18-8 (as against IPFW last weekend), we can always build upon that and say that they shouldn't have scored eight runs."

It the team's hope that it will find consistent play at Bulldog Diamond this weekend during the Bayer CropScience Classic in Fresno, Calif.

In terms of a personal aspiration, Ziegenhirt said she would like to see consistency at the plate.

"I have been mentally struggling with my hitting, and just to relax at the plate would be my goal for the weekend," she said.

After finishing in second place on the team last year in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage and doubles, Ziegenhirt sits at sixth on the team this season with a .306 batting average.

But things can turn around quickly. Right fielder Elia Reid went into last weekend hitting .130. In the four games, she upped her stats, recording 10 RBI from two home runs and two triples. The performance brought her batting average up to .229 and earned her Pac-10 Player of the Week.

"I have been working with the coaches, working with my teammates and sister (Jamia), staying relaxed, having my rhythm and having my timing down," Reid said. "It is the team that is helping me stay encouraged and not get down."

This weekend's tilts are nothing to get down about either. The Bears open up the tournament with a doubleheader on Saturday against two teams they have never seen before: Bradley and Troy.

Saturday's tilt against Cal is Bradley's second versus a ranked opponent this year. The Braves buckled to then-No. 19 Texas A&M, 3-1, earlier this year. In terms of Pac-10 opponents, Bradley has also not fared well; it fell to Oregon State, 8-6, last month.

Next, the Bears square off against Troy (13-6) at 3 p.m.

Infielder Nikki Hollett will bring stiff offensive competition. She paces the squad with a .487 batting average and has 14 homers in 21 games.

On Sunday, Cal will see Drake (8-7) and tournament host Fresno State (8-4) in a doubleheader.

One of Drake pitcher Jenna DeLong's best games was her 8-0 no-hitter against Wisconsin-Green Bay last month. She currently ranks fourth on Drake's all-time strikeout list with 593.


Kelly Suckow covers softball. Contact her at [email protected]

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