Softball Skunked at WCWS

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It wasn't supposed to end this way.

The Cal softball team wasn't supposed to get eliminated after two straight losses at the Women's College World Series.

Statistically, the Bears weren't expected to even be in Oklahoma City in the first place. They had a mediocre end to their regular season and were seeded third at the Fresno State-hosted regional - a site where Cal had limited success in previous postseason appearances.

Add to that tally the four All-Americans at the regional - none of them with the Bears - and their chances of making it past regional action looked even more bleak.

But after battling back through the loser's bracket at the regional, the Bears shocked their doubters and earned their second straight WCWS appearance. It seemed like the team might find some way to be as successful as last year's squad, which finished third at the national championship tournament. But unfortunately for the young team, that's where the story ends.

It wasn't supposed to end this way, but it did.

"I thought we came out very aggressive and were hitting the ball very hard," Cal coach Diane Ninemire said. "Unfortunately, we had many opportunities to score (Saturday), but the ball was hit right to a lot of people and we made some mistakes on the bases."

The team opened the tournament with a hard-fought 2-1 loss to Oklahoma Thursday. The Bears then dropped their second game in the double-elimination tournament, 6-0, to Arizona Saturday. Cal finished the season with a 49-25 record, recording the second-best win total in school history.

But the Bears couldn't find a way to get over that elusive 50-win hump - a mark reached only once, by last year's senior-laden 55-22 team - especially against the Wildcats. Arizona (59-9) went on an offensive tear against the Cal pitching staff, scoring at least one run in all but two innings. Starter Nicole DiSalvio and reliever Jocelyn Forest gave up a combined 11 hits and did not strike out a single batter.

"We were able to get some opportunities in the early innings, but we weren't able to get the key hit to score a run," Ninemire said. "We're a very young team and we were in some pressure situations, so I think this was a great experience for the seven freshmen on our team. Hopefully, we can take something from it and build on it for next year."

The Bears could not get any rhythm going offensively. Designated player Kristen Moreley turned in a 2-for-3 outing and senior second baseman Lisa Iancin was perfect in her final game, going 3-for-3 at the plate. Disregarding Moreley and Iancin's efforts, the remainder of the team went a hitless 0-for-18 with two walks.

Cal's effort against Oklahoma allowed the Bears to go into the final inning clinging to a 1-0 lead, but the Sooners' two-run seventh inning rally quelled Cal's chances. Andrea Davis drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on Ashi Burnett's sacrifice bunt. A shaken Forest went on to hit Mandy Fulton and Kelli Braitsch in consecutive at-bats to load the bases. Christy Ring then lined a hit to give the Sooners the one-run cushion they needed.

"We struggled a little bit offensively to get things going," Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said. "Jocelyn Forest is an excellent pitcher, and we knew that going in. In the seventh inning, when Ashli Barrett got the bunt down, that sort of opened up the floodgates."


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