Sortball: Trip to Hawaii Means Work for Bears, Tropical Tourney Features Top Teams

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Beaches, rain forest, warm weather and softball.

A strange combination perhaps, but one the No. 8 Cal softball team will experience this weekend when it travels to Hawaii for the Chevron Invitational.

"These are must-wins for us," Candace Harper said in her online diary. "Especially heading into conference play."

Round-robin games begin Thursday and conclude Saturday to determine seeding for Sunday's bracket play.

The Bears (29-9) get started today at 3 p.m. against Nittaidai Two, a split squad from Japan representing Nippon Sports Science University.

At 5 p.m., Cal takes on tournament host Hawaii (20-12).

The Rainbow Wahine are led by Stacey Porter, who is batting .351 with nine home runs and 26 RBIs.

Sheri Oronoz anchors Hawaii's pitching staff with a 12-5 record and team-leading 1.59 ERA.

The Bears' sole Friday game pits them against Hofstra (7-14).

Hailey Clark is the Pride's biggest threat at the plate with a .316 average, seven home runs and 23 RBIs.

In the circle, Stefanie Kenney sports a 4-4 record with a 4.20 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 48 innings.

Cal takes on Nittaidai One Saturday at 9 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. matchup with Northwestern (6-6-1).

The Bears are coming off a second place finish in last weekend's Sacramento Capital Classic, losing to No. 5 Nebraska in the title game, 4-3 in extra innings.

"The Nebraska comeback in the bottom of the seventh with two outs should show us that anything is possible," Harper said. "We should never give up in any situation."

The Bears' offense exploded in Sacramento, blasting six home runs. Veronica Nelson launched three, and Harper, Jessica Vernaglia and Chelsea Spencer all went yard as well.

Freshman Jessica Pamanian, who batted just .188 over Cal's first 18 games, is batting .397 with 23 hits and 17 RBIs since Feb. 24 to spark the Bears' surging offense.

Kaleo Eldredge returns to her home state leading the team with a .357 batting average, seven stolen bases and 29 runs scored.

Nelson's trifecta last weekend gives her six home runs on the season to complement her 20 RBIs and 53 walks.

Cal has been getting its work done in the other half of the inning as well, both in the circle and in the field.

Cal's pitching staff has been a major factor in the team's success.

Senior Jocelyn Forest leads the way with a 12-5 record, 0.91 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 123 innings. Cassie Bobrow's 0.76 ERA leads the team and has earned her a 5-1 record.


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