Listen to the first segment of the Bear Republic Podcast HERE.
Listen to the second segment of the Bear Republic Podcast HERE
BERKELEY -- This weekend is a busy one for California athletics, with the Bears softball team hosting their first regional since 1993. Cal is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, and will face Iona at 7 PM on Friday.
On the other side of campus, the Bears baseball team will be hosting a three-game set against No. 11 UCLA with a possible berth in the playoffs on the line.
In our first hour, we discuss recruiting, as well the aftermath of the Cal football team's spring practices even more in-depth, dissecting the Bears position-by-position, and we begin a lengthy discussion of the quarterback situation.
In our second hour, we continue our quarterback debate and recruiting talk, then move on to basketball recruiting. After that, we talk baseball and preview the softball team's postseason, as Cal heads into the playoffs armed with the first-ever Pac-12 title, the Pac-12 Player of the Year in national player of the year candidate Valerie Arioto, the league's pitcher of the year and national player of the year candidate in Jolene Henderson and the Pac-12 coach of the year Diane Ninemire.
Arioto, Henderson and speed demon Jamia Reid were named first-team all-conference, with Jace Williams, Frani Echavarria, Danielle Henderson and Breana Kostreba checking in as honorable mention honorees. The younger Henderson and Kostreba were also named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.
The softball team comes into the postseason on fire, taking two of three from No. 2 Arizona State -- the reigning national champs -- and the Bears are historically the most comprehensively dominant team in the school's history.
Arioto is eighth in the league in batting (.390), with Reid checking in at eighth with her .381 mark. Reid is also third in the league with 75 hits.
Arioto is tied for third in the Pac-12 with 118 total bases, is second in runs (59) and paces the circuit with 74 walks. Arioto now owns the best walk season in Cal history other than the top four marks, which belong to Veronica Nelson. Arioto walked 81 times in 2010, but Nelson walked 87 times in 2000, 93 in 2001, 107 in 2004 and 108 in 2002.
Arioto leads the conference in slugging (1.000) -- a mark which would break her own record of .819 set in 2010. She leads the Pac-12 in on-base percentage (.626) and is fifth with 57 RBI, five away from the Cal career record which she set in 2010. She is first with a record-setting 22 homers, breaking a record she tied in 2010 set by Veronica Nelson in 2001, of 19 in a season.
With 53 career longballs, Arioto has passed Haley Woods for second place on the all-time list, and is now just two behind Nelson, who put 55 over the fence from 2000-03.
Reid is tops in the league with 45 stolen bases, five more than the No. 2 and No. 3 thieves combined -- and she's only been caught twice. Reid needs just three swipes to tie her single-season record set in 2010. She has three of the top five best base-stealing seasons in Cal history, with 48 in 2010, 47 in 2009 and 31 in 2001.Reid has been tops on the Cal career rolls for stolen bases since last season, and she now has an astounding 171 in her career.
This weekend, Arioto took over for Jolene Henderson as the top pitcher in the league with a 1.22 ERA, just a few thousandths of a point better than her teammate. Henderson has allowed the second-lowest batting average against (.191) with Arioto just a tick behind for third. Henderson is fourth in innings pitched (211.2) with Arioto tenth with 126.2 innings of work. Henderson is the best strikeout artist in the league with 249 whiffs, and Arioto has fanned 155, good for ninth. Henderson is also first in strikeouts looking, with 78 called third strikes.
Arioto has allowed the fewest runs in the Pac-12 (29), with Henderson checking in at fifth with her 43 allowed. To put that into perspective, Cal has scored a school-record 367 runs this season, while allowing just 77 all season.
The Bears' .320 team batting average is good for the second-best season in Cal history, behind 1977's .328-hitting squad, and the Bears' 73 home runs are the most in school history, with the second-most coming in 2009, when Ninemire's sluggers put 55 over the fence. Cal has also recorded the most RBI in team history (328), far outpacing the second-best season (286 in 2010). Fueled by Reid's speed, this team has recorded the eighth-most stolen bases in school history with 81, and thanks to an athletic and veteran defense, the Bears boast a .980 fielding percentage, .002 ahead of the 2005 Women's College World Series finalist squad for the best in school history.
The Iona Gaels come into Strawberry Canyon as the MAAC automatic bid, earning that distinction by defeating second-seed Fairfield 2-0 in the conference title game for the program's third straight league crown.
Iona's top pitchers are Alyssa Maise boasts a 1.25 ERA and a 17-10 record in 195.1 innings of work, allowing a .216 batting average against. The No. 2 hurler for the Gaels is Sarah Jackson, who has posted a 1.26 ERA in 195.0 innings with a .199 batting average against en route to a 17-12 record.
Maise was named the MAAC Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, and was the conference's co-player of the year. Jackson was named the MAAC Pitcher of the Year, and was named to the All-MAAC First Team, also garnering an All-MAAC Tournament Team selection.
Eileen McCann paces Iona with a .337 batting average, while Maise leads the Gaels in slugging (.567) and OBP (.411).