Bears follow Ninemire's lead into capital

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Last year's game against Sacramento State was a milestone for Cal softball coach Diane Ninemire.

On April 7, 2010, the 6-0 victory over the Hornets marked her 1,000th win with the Bears. She became the ninth coach in the history of Division I softball to do so.

"I think Coach reached a great milestone last year, proving that she knows what she is doing and is successful," catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt said. "Keeping the winning tradition is an official thing to do."

Ninemire, now in her 24th season with Cal, is undoubtedly looking for another victory over the team in today's midweek matchup at 3 p.m.

The No. 9 Bears (22-6, 1-2 in the Pac-10) face off against Sacramento State in a nonconference tilt at Shea Stadium in Sacramento, Calif.

Given its 21-5 road record tallied this season, Cal should not be threatened by the trip away from the familiar confines of Levine-Fricke Field.

The Bears are also confident coming off Sunday's win over No. 3 Arizona State.

Sacramento State's .251 batting average is not in the same ballpark as Sun Devils' .389, which leads the nation.

Despite the discrepancy in talent, the Hornets (8-15) still have some standout players that are causing a buzz.

In the past three games, catcher Molly Smith has logged two runs, a homer and an RBI. Ever since she recorded two hits against Pacific almost a month ago, the sophomore has improved her batting average .221 points. It currently stands at .304.

Third baseman Emily McCormick rides into today's game on a five-game hitting streak, batting .375 over that span. She has two runs, two RBI and one home run over the five games.

However, a consistent starting lineup is something Sacramento State lacks.

Junior first basman Alyssa Nakken and freshman second baseman Devin Caldwell are the only two players that have started all 22 games this season.

In comparison, Cal has a strong starting front that has only been impacted by the occasional injury. Most of the players in the lineup have started all 28 of the Bears' contests, including Ziegenhirt, center fielder Frani Echavarria and shortstop Britt Vonk.

The lack of a stability among the starters may have contributed to the Hornets' four losses in their past five tilts. The squad is also 3-4 at home this season and is 0-4 against ranked opponents thus far. Other than then-No. 9 UCLA, Cal will be the highest-ranked team Sacramento State has seen this year.

"I think every team has good talent, which is why they were recruited to play college softball," Ziegenhirt said. "Coach Angie (Jacobs) said, 'It doesn't matter who the other team is, you are playing yourself every game.'"

Tags: CAL SOFTBALL, DIANE NINEMIRE, JOLENE HENDERSON, LINDSEY ZIEGENHIRT


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



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