Cal Continues Winning Ways With Five Victories at UCSB Invitational

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When you start a lawn mower, it will sputter a bit before it roars to life. Then it will cut down everything in its path.

Such has been the season so far for the No. 7 Cal softball team.

After a 4-4 start, the Bears (15-4) have gone on a tear, winning 11 straight, including five this weekend at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational.

"It was a little rocky at the beginning and we didn't start as well as other years I've been here," senior Jocelyn Forest said. "But the whole team is starting to come together and everybody is contributing."

Cal finished off its perfect weekend Sunday with a perfect game from freshman Cassie Bobrow (4-0).

She struck out two Illinois batters in five innings before the mercy rule went into effect.

"There were some concerns about pitching at the beginning of the season," Forest said. "But everybody has been throwing very well, which means we all get some rest and there isn't as much pressure on individuals."

The Bears got off to a quick start when Candace Harper drove in Kaleo Eldredge for a 1-0 first inning lead.

Cal added a pair in the second on RBI singles by Jessica Pamanian and Kristen Morley.

But the highlight reel material was held in check until the third inning, when Pamanian's grand slam gave the Bears an eight-run lead.

Bobrow and coach Diane Ninemire both credited teammates with strong defensive play.

"We are getting contributions from everyone," Ninemire said. "Jessica is our ninth batter and she's making big plays."

Cal's short game Sunday made up for its eight-inning Saturday night matchup against Cal Poly (8-6).

Forest (5-3) pitched six and two-thirds innings of no-hit ball before the Mustangs loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with two outs.

Forest struck out the next batter to escape with the tie intact.

In extra innings, the international tie-breaker rule went into effect. Each team starts the inning with a runner on second base.

The Bears wasted no time in taking advantage of the rule. Candace Harper's pop up scored Pamanian and Veronica Nelson followed with a three-run dinger, her third of the season.

"When a game goes into international I always feel like we can win," said Forest, who finished with 15 strikeouts. "We can lay down bunts and get the hits to drive runs in."

The victory came hot on the heels of Saturday afternoon's 3-1 win over host UCSB (8-12).

Freshman Kelly Anderson (1-1) recorded her first collegiate win, striking out three and allowing four hits over seven innings.

But defense was the story against the Gauchos, with Chelsea Spencer, Courtney Scott and Pamanian all making key plays to put out runners and prevent base hits.

"Our defense made some great plays at critical times," Ninemire said. "They definitely prevented some runs from scoring."

Defense didn't have quite as much to do in Friday night's matchup against Brigham Young (5-6).

After walking the first batter of the game, Forest struck out the next 11 batters, finishing the game with a season-high 15 strikeouts in eight innings.

"I'll get frustrated when the other team is making good contact or I'm walking people," Forest said. "I'll get mad at myself and then I just get on a roll."

With a scoreless duel in the bottom of the eighth, Harper's double drove in Eldredge for the 1-0 win.

Cal got its weekend started Friday morning with a 7-2 win over Santa Clara (7-7).

Nelson gave the Bears the early advantage with a second inning solo shot, and Cal added four runs in the third on bases-loaded singles by Scott and Mikella Pedretti.

The Bears added insurance runs in the fourth and seventh innings.

Junior Jennifer Deering and Bobrow teamed up in the circle, combining for six strikeouts on the day.

"This team fights for everything and refuses to lose," Ninemire said. "They're finding ways to win games."

Cal will be in action Friday, when it takes on Oklahoma State as part of the Worth Invitational.


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