Bears blank Broncos in mercy victory

Photo: Freshman left fielder LaRisa Jones went 1-for-3 at the plate against Santa Clara, driving in a pair of runs.
Kevin Hahn/Staff
Freshman left fielder LaRisa Jones went 1-for-3 at the plate against Santa Clara, driving in a pair of runs.

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The No. 9 Cal softball team took a break from Pac-10 competition in a big way on Wednesday - pummelling Santa Clara in a 12-0 mercy rule decision.

After three innings and a 8-0 lead, the Bears' bench came out to relieve nearly all of the starters at Levine-Fricke Field.

Substitutions included junior Amy Bishop for Jace Williams in the hot corner, freshman Taylor Vincent for sophomore Lindsey Ziegenhirt behind the plate, sophomore Diane Leider for freshman Victoria Jones and freshman Alex Robben for sophomore Jordan Wallace at first.

Given the light opponent, combined with a looming final home stand against No. 11 UCLA, Wednesday was the optimal time to keep sophomore star Jolene Henderson off the rubber and start Arianna Erceg against the Broncos.

The freshman from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. took over the five innings in the circle.

"It was good to get all five innings," Erceg said. "It's good for me to get any kind of work out there."

Erceg had her way with hapless Santa Clara, limiting the visitors to only three hits and no runs in the shortened game.

For the Bears (31-9, 7-5 in the Pac-10) it was a different story on offense. Although the first inning was scoreless for Cal, the squad picked up four runs each in the second, third and fourth innings.

"In the first inning, we were still getting used to their pitcher," Erceg said. "Once we got our timing down, our bats really started to break out there."

The bats began breaking in the bottom of the second inning. First baseman Jordan Wallace came up with an RBI double, followed by Jones' two-RBI single.

At the end of the shutout, the Bears stole 10 bases, while racking up 10 total hits, 10 RBI and and seeing only two batters strike out. Jones alone went 2-for-2 with two runs and three RBI.

"We try to be that aggressive on the bases every game," head coach Diane Ninemire said. "This is the type of game, running-wise, that we need to have every game here on out. We can put a lot of pressure on a lot of defenses."

The Broncos undoubtedly felt that pressure, committing five errors on the afternoon. In the circle, freshman starting pitcher Jessica Turner struggled as well. for Santa Clara (6-24, 2-10 in the PCSC). The Bears knocked her around for six earned runs off nine hits in just three innings of work. Senior Jenna Fong came in for one inning of relief with one earned run.

Despite the trying three-game series against Stanford last weekend, Cal came out strong in its last nonconference match of the season.

"I'm glad we showed up and made it only a five-inning game," Ninemire said. "That's what I thought it should have been. I told the girls, 'The only thing that is going to stop us (on Wednesday) is ourselves."


Kelly Suckow covers softball.

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