Fresh off a sweep against Stanford, Arizona State (28-17, 8-10 Pac-12) has its eyes set on another Bay Area foe as the California Golden Bears (27-25, 4-16 Pac-12) enter Farrington Stadium this weekend.
The three-game set will be the final three home games of the regular season, meaning Sunday will be senior day to honor Sun Devils Skylar McCarty, Morgan Howe, and Taylor Becerra.
Cal is coming off a series loss, but an upset win at No. 6 Arizona last Saturday when the Golden Bears defeated the Wildcats.
They won a midweek contest on Tuesday against Santa Clara, and this weekend’s games are surely to be full of emotion as ASU honors its veteran players. Here is more to know about the matchup:
Game Times/Where to Watch:
Game one: Friday, May 3 at 5:00 p.m. MST/Pac-12 Networks
Game two: Saturday, May 4 at 1:00 p.m. MST/Pac-12 Networks
Game three: Sunday, May 5 at 12:00 p.m. MST/Pac-12 Networks
A Look at the Golden Bears
Offensively, Cal is led by senior shortstop Lindsay Rood. She is batting .395 with five home runs and 24 RBI’s. Sophomore Lauren Espalin and freshman Makena Smith have also been threats with the bat, as both underclassmen are hitting above .300 in the Cal batting order. As a first-year player, Smith leads the team in RBI’s with 30.
In the circle, Cal has relied on the two arms of senior Kamalani Dung and redshirt senior Zoe Conley. Both right-handed arms transferred from other schools and they have become the aces of the staff the last two seasons in Berkeley.
Dung currently holds a 2.14 ERA with 143 strikeouts while Conley has put forth a 3.66 ERA with 114 strikeouts. The Golden Bears staff also features senior Kourtney Shaw and freshman Alexandra Perez.
It has been a tough go of things in Pac-12 play for Cal, but they are not to be taken lightly headed into the matchup. They are coming off an upset and they are normally a tournament team year in and year out under longtime head coach Diane Ninemire.
“I think Zoe and Kama (Dung) are really good pitchers but they have really just had some things not go their way,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford said of Cal. “They are a good team and it’s funny because as you talk to other programs that have played them, they all say that. They all say that they are really good. At any point in time, they can break out. You are just holding your breath.”
Other Notes Going Into the Weekend
On Monday, Morgan Howe was named Pac-12 Player of the Week after a mammoth weekend at the plate against Stanford, and she will now gear up to compete against a familiar face in the circle against Cal.
Similar to Howe and three other players on ASU’s roster, Dung transferred from Fresno State. Howe and Dung used to be roommates in Fresno and they both played under Ford.
In an article done by the San Francisco Chronicle in March, Dung shared her remarkable tale on her journey to playing Division I college softball coming from Hawaii, and it is more than likely to be an emotional weekend as former teammates who are now seniors face each another one final time.
“I’ll probably cry. It’s one of those things where it’s a full circle moment,” Howe said. “It’s going to be emotional to know that I get to come back on my senior day and share that moment with Kama even though we are not at the same school anymore. It’s just really exciting...It’s just one of those surreal, storybook endings.”
Another storyline going into the weekend is an unfortunate event that happened to senior third baseman Taylor Becerra. She sustained an injury to her right leg last weekend and received diagnosis this week.
Her collegiate playing career has come to a close. Becerra shared that she suffered a torn ACL and slightly torn MCL on Thursday. Regardless of the adverse circumstances, she had high spirits and shed positivity on the situation as she reflected on her career and the game of softball.
“I am going to try my hardest not to be that emotional but I don't see that happening,” said Becerra of Sunday’s senior day. “I think it’s just taking a step back to see how far we have all come and I think when I step back and look at the fans and my parents and everyone around me with all the other girls, it just makes me feel thankful that this is where I ended up.”