Softball: Bears Head to Moraga for Weekday Double-Dip with St. Mary's

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There is no such thing as a sure win, but today's games may be as close as the Cal softball team has seen in a while.

The No. 8 Bears (42-14, 8-4 in the Pac-10) take a short road trip to Moraga this afternoon to take on St. Mary's in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m.

Cal defeated the Gaels 2-0 and 4-0 in last season to improve to 30-0 all time in the series.

"We don't know a whole lot about them, but we beat them soundly last year," Bears coach Diane Ninemire said. "But you don't want to overlook any team."

The Gaels (13-30) are coming off a pair of weekend losses to Santa Clara.

Kami Gray leads the way on offense for St. Mary's with a .296 batting average and 11 RBIs.

Tiffany Redding is the Gaels' biggest run producer with 13 RBIs.

The Gaels will have to contend with a Cal pitching staff featuring Jocelyn Forest, who is 19-8 with a 1.04 ERA and 278 strikeouts in 195 innings.

Forest earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors after holding No. 1 Arizona to one run on one hit and striking out 15 in Sunday's 2-1 Bears victory.

Jen Deering is 12-2 with a 2.39 ERA, and Cassie Bobrow (5-1, 1.22 ERA) and Kelly Anderson (6-3, 1.35 ERA) round out the staff.

"All our pitchers threw great against the Arizona teams," Ninemire said. "Hopefully we turned a corner and that will continue for the rest of the season."

In the circle for St. Mary's, Jennifer Eaton is 5-15 with a 3.42 ERA and Jordan Larson is 6-9 with a 3.77 ERA.

That pair will have its hands full against Cal's offensive attack.

Catcher Courtney Scott, the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week, paces the Bears with a .344 average and 39 RBIs.

In the cleanup spot, Veronica Nelson is batting .342 while leading the team with nine home runs and a .613 on-base percentage.

Candace Harper, whose game-winning homer Sunday gave Cal its second straight win over Arizona, is batting .321 with six dingers and 34 RBIs.

But the Bears' big hitters aren't the only ones contributing.

"We've been getting contributions from everyone," Ninemire said. "Jessica Pamanian had a huge home run on Saturday and Chelsea Spencer and Kaleo Eldredge have been hitting well."

Cal may be playing its best softball of the season, having taken three straight games from the Arizona schools last weekend.

The Bears got their weekend started with a victory over No. 6 Arizona State on Friday, then beat out Arizona Saturday and Sunday to complete the weekend sweep.

In the process, Cal propelled itself into the midst of the Pac-10 title race. At 8-4, the Bears trail the Wildcats and No. 2 UCLA by a half-game.

After hosting the Bruins and Washington this weekend, Cal has two weeks remaining in the Pac-10 season. The Bears will get another shot at the Wildcats next weekend in Tucson, Ariz.


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