Henderson's dominant weekend helps Bears sweep visiting Ducks

Photo: Cal pitcher Arianna Erceg threw four innings on Sunday, giving up two earned runs.
Michael Gethers/Photo
Cal pitcher Arianna Erceg threw four innings on Sunday, giving up two earned runs.

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No matter how many pitchers Oregon softball coach Mike White threw into the circle, the No. 17 Ducks could not stop No. 13 Cal from sweeping the three-game series this weekend - especially considering who was on the rubber for the Bears.

Sophomore Jolene Henderson threw two complete game wins and four innings of relief, not allowing a single run in 18 innings of weekend work.

Cal (28-8, 5-4 in the Pac-10) blanked the Ducks, 5-0, on Friday and 2-0 on Saturday. On Sunday, Oregon (30-11, 2-7) notched two runs in the first inning - off Bears starter Arianna Erceg - only to be overtaken in a 5-2 decision.

"We knew coming against Cal, Jolene Henderson is a good pitcher and she is tough to score runs on," White said. "Arianna Erceg is not bad, she has only given up three runs all year ... Our pitchers kind of kept us in the games, we just didn't score any runs."

Unlike the Bears' reliance on Henderson, all four of the Ducks' pitchers made appearances in the circle this weekend at Levine-Fricke Field.

Sophomore Jessica Moore started off the series on Friday but gave up five runs (three earned) in three innings. Senior Brittany Rumfelt and junior Samantha Skillingstad combined for three innings of scoreless relief, but the damage had already been done.

Skillingstad started Saturday's contest. She gave up the only two runs of the game and earned the loss. Junior Mikayala Endicott faced two batters on Sunday, walking one and hitting the other. The disappointing performance forced White to pull her in favor of Skillingstad.

"I thought our hitters did a great job of adjusting to all of his four pitchers, especially (Moore)," Cal coach Diane Ninemire said. "I am pleased that we were able to handle her two games this weekend because we are going to be facing top pitchers going down the stretch here."

In contrast, the 12 runs the Bears logged were a testament to consistent hitting throughout the batting order. Catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt slugged two solo home runs, a sign of improvement after struggling earlier this season.

"She is really starting to put in the work," Ninemire said. "I think that she realized that she needed to put in more work and it wasn't falling as easily as it was last year.

"You have to keep your work ethic up and I think that is something that Lindsey, and other players, have begun to realize."

Jamia Reid's return to the lineup the past two weeks has also contributed to the Bears' recent success. She went 3-for-3 on Saturday and scored a run.

"They did a good job of executing their game plan, contrary to us," White said. "We had a game plan too, but it didn't show that way. We didn't do a good job of executing it."


Kelly Suckow covers softball.

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