Bears seek revenge against Cardinal

Photo: Victoria Jones is hitting .225 in her freshman campaign. The Oceanside, Calif., native has started 30 games for  Cal.
Michael Gethers/File
Victoria Jones is hitting .225 in her freshman campaign. The Oceanside, Calif., native has started 30 games for Cal.

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After Oregon swept the season series last year, the Cal softball team found redemption last weekend by returning the favor.

And that's a trend the Bears hope to continue this week in a three-game series with No. 11 Stanford, beginning today at 3 p.m at Levine-Fricke Field.

No. 12 Cal (28-8, 5-4 in the Pac-10) will be looking for some pay back after dropping two of the three matchups to Stanford in 2010.

"I know that we really want to make up for what we didn't do last year," pitcher Jolene Henderson said.

The Bears are riding a four-game winning streak, during which they outscored their opponents 21-3 - including two shutout wins over the No. 17 Ducks.

Prior to last week, Cal had struggled at the plate, and averaged less than three runs per contest over a nine game stretch starting in March.

"We kind of hit the bottom, and then from there you can only go up," Henderson said. "I think we started to relax more at the plate, because we could only have done better than what we were doing."

The Cal bats will be put to the test this week against a Stanford team (31-8, 5-4) that is allowing its opponents to hit just .220 on the season.

Starter Teagan Gerhart, the younger sister of former Cardinal running back Toby Gerhart, has established herself as one of the top pitchers in the Pac-10, boasting a 17-6 record and a 1.75 ERA.

But that isn't to say the Bears don't think they're capable of equalizing the Cardinal's pitching staff.

"We've seen all these great pitchers already this season," freshman Victoria Jones said. "And we know we can hit them."

Cal's pitching will also get a test from Stanford's offense, which comes into the series hitting an impressive .331.

Henderson, however, has been just as, if not more, impressive. The sophomore right-hander owns an astounding 0.78 ERA, while letting opponents bat a meager .169.

"We have a lot of similar players, and we're pretty equally matched," infielder Jordan Wallace said.

"It's just going to come down to who wants it the most."

Part of the teams' similarity may be due to the fact that the two squads are relatively close. Many of the players are close friends, and grew up playing softball together.

"It's kind of a friendly rivalry," Wallace said. "It's going to be that fun, kind of edgy game.

"And we'll be the winners."

Currently tied for fourth in a very competitive conference race, both Cal and Stanford should have plenty of motivation heading into the series. The fact that it's a rivalry should just add to the intensity.

"There's a little bit more fire under us since it's Stanford. We want to come out especially hard," Wallace said.

"I mean, who doesn't want to beat Stanford?"


Connor Byrne covers softball.

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