Home run from Reid fuels win over Card

Photo: Jolene Henderson pitched all 21 innings in Cal's series victory over the Cardinal. The Bears' ace gave up just one run and eight hits on Saturday.
Eugene W. Lau/Staff
Jolene Henderson pitched all 21 innings in Cal's series victory over the Cardinal. The Bears' ace gave up just one run and eight hits on Saturday.

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After four innings of a pitchers' duel, the No. 12 Cal softball team broke down No. 11 Stanford in one hit on Saturday.

Right fielder Elia Reid's two-run home run on Sunday marked the turning point in the Bears' 4-1 home victory at Levine-Fricke Field.

She connected on a pitch by Stanford's Tegan Gerhart, sending the ball over the left-center field back fence to bring home both her and first baseman Jordan Wallace.

Neither of the teams could create anything in the first three innings, aside from Cal third baseman Jace Williams. Her single in the third inning scored Jamia Reid to put Cal (30-9, 7-5 in the Pac-10) on the board first.

"I was glad we got that first run because we wanted to break the ice," Cal coach Diane Ninemire said. "Then I was hoping that we would get our speed on and create some havoc with our speed. That didn't happen, but I was glad to see Elia (Reid) come through because she had been struggling at the plate."

After going 0-for-2 in Thursday's series opener against the Cardinal (32-10, 6-6) and 0-for-3 with one strikeout in game two, Reid's push changed the tone for the rest of the contest, forcing Cardinal coach John Rittman to pull Gerhart from the circle for senior Ashley Chinn.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Cal designated hitter Ashley Decker hit a sacrifice fly to bring center fielder Frani Echavarria home for the Bears' last run of the game.

Stanford's answered in the top of the sixth with a run - and threatened even more in the seventh.

Cal sophomore Jolene Henderson had pitched every inning of the series thus far. Through the 20 innings, she had only given up two runs. After Henderson retired the first two batters in the top of the seventh, it seemed like it was going to be a relatively easy inning to finish the game.

That 63rd out of the weekend, however, may have been the most difficult for Henderson.

Tegan Schmidt and Sarah Hassman squeezed out consecutive singles, and the pressure was on. Henderson's first two pitches were strikes, but after a ball, she gave up a single to Corey Hangarner to load the bases.

"They weren't going to die," Ninemire said. "They got the bases loaded off of little dinky hits and had their national player up at the plate.

They were one crack away from tying up the ball game or perhaps even winning it."

The Card could not have asked for a better player to step up to the plate next than USA national team player Ashley Hansen and her .489 batting average. Unfortunately for Stanford, Hansen popped up to end the tilt and clinch Cal's victory in the Big Series. The Bears had fallen to the Card, 2-1 on Friday after winning, 2-0, on Thursday.

"(Friday night) I really challenged them to bring everything they had out here on this field, and for those that were struggling at the plate to figure a way to get over that," Ninemire said. "Even though some of those girls are still struggling, they were taking a lot better cuts."


Kelly Suckow covers softball.

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