Palms of Victory: Cal Women's Tennis advances to NCAA Sweet 16
Both Cal Baseball and Softball picks up a win apiece over the weekend
We are finally in the last month of the 2020-21 school year (although the Cal student-athletes are taking their finals this week). The remaining major events are the NCAA and IRA Rowing Championships in the last weekend of May (28-30). Defending NCAA Women’s Hammer Toss champion Camryn Rogers alone makes the NCAA Track and Field Championship on June 9-12 another relevant event to Cal as the official conclusion of this pandemic-altered school year.
Before we get there, Cal Women’s Tennis will continue their postseason run this Sunday and hopefully early next week (IF they can upset No.1 and undefeated North Carolina). Cal Baseball and Softball also have few more games left in their regular seasons.
No.16 Cal Women’s Tennis earns a spot in NCAA Sweet 16
After winning the Pac-12 tournament and earning the last of 16 seeds as well as the privilege to host the first two rounds, Cal Women’s Tennis made sure that they wouldn’t be one of the few seeds (No.8 Baylor, No.11 Florida, and No.12 LSU) to lose in the second round.
Cal 4, San Jose State 0
Cal celebrated senior Anna Bright before the match, hinting that she will not return next season, unlike fellow senior Julia Rosenqvist. Bright, the most luminous of her class, had been a mainstay in the Cal lineup since her freshman season and made her 73rd straight dual-meet start in this match.
Head coach Amanda Augustus also opted to rest sophomore Haley Giavara to give experience to freshman Cam Brown as the No.6 while shifting everyone else up a spot in singles.
Despite San Jose State’s solid record (15-1) entering this match, Cal won the doubles point (while also leading in the unfinished contest). Bright at No.5, Valentina Ivanov at No.2, and Hannah Viller Moeller at No.4 all won in straight sets to allow the Golden Bears to advance to Saturday’s NCAA 2nd round.
NCAA Championship First Round
 No. 13 California (18-6) defeated San Jose State (15-2) 4-0
May 7, 2021, in Berkeley, Calif.
Hellman Tennis Complex
1. Julia Rosenqvist/Valentina Ivanov (Cal) vs. Alba Pedrero Galindo/Lara Marco Mas (SJS) 5-3 Unfinished
2. Anna Bright/Hannah Viller Moeller (Cal) def. Tamara Culibrk/Irena Muradyan (SJS), 6-0
3. Jada Bui/Erin Richardson (Cal) def. Raquel Villan Pereira/Rozalina Youseva (SJS), 6-3*
Order of Finish - 2, 3*
*Clinched the doubles point
1. Julia Rosenqvist (Cal) vs. Alba Pedrero Galindo (SJSU), 6-3, 5-6 Unfinished
2. Valentina Ivanov (Cal) def. Rozalina Youseva (SJSU), 6-2, 6-1
3. Jada Bui (Cal) vs. Irena Muradyan (SJSU), 0-6, 6-6 Unfinished
4. Hannah Viller Moeller (Cal) def. Lara Marco Mas (SJSU), 6-1, 6-3^
5. Anna Bright (Cal) def. Raquel Villan Pereira (SJSU), 6-2, 6-1
6. Cami Brown (Cal) vs. Jovana Babic (SJSU), 7-6(3), 1-0 Unfinished
Order of Finish – 5, 2, 4^
^Clinched the overall win
Cal 4, Kentucky 2
Kentucky had to go down to the wire in their first-round match against Syracuse before winning 4-3. The Wildcats proved to be formidable opponents to the Cal Bears who returned to the same “regular” lineup that had won the Pac-12 tournament final against No.4 UCLA.
Despite the victory, Cal struggled across the board in delivering the fatal blow in this match. For the doubles point, the sophomore pair of Haley Giavara and Valentia Ivanov only clinched the win (and the doubles point to Cal) on their 12th match point.
In singles, Cal’s depth allowed the Bears to quickly gain a 3-1 lead after straight-set wins by Anna Bright at No.6 and Hannah Viller Moeller at No.5. Haley Giavara lost to the better-ranked opponent at No.1 while the three remaining matches all went to a decisive third set.
Valentina Ivanov could have clinched on No.3 but her 2nd set lead of 5-3 turned into a 5-7 loss. Freshman Jada Bui became the clincher with her comeback win on No.4. Bui also had a slow start (1st set loss) in singles in the first round before rallying in an unfinished contest.
NCAA Championship Second Round
 No. 13 California (19-6) defeated No. 26 Kentucky (16-9), 4-2
May 8, 2021, in Berkeley, Calif.
Hellman Tennis Complex
1. Haley Giavara/Valentina Ivanov (Cal) def. No. 1 Akvile Parazinskaite/Fiona Arrese (UK), 7-6(6)*
2. Anna Bright/Hannah Viller Moeller (Cal) def. Ana Tkachenko/Carla Girbau (UK), 6-1
3. Jada Bui/Erin Richarson (Cal) vs. Lesedi Jacobs/Elizabeth Stevens (UK), 6-6 Unfinished
Order of Finish - 2, 1*
*Clinched the doubles point
1. No. 28 Akvile Parazinskaite (UK) def. No. 31 Haley Giavara (Cal), 6-4, 6-2
2. No. 115 Lesedi Jacobs (UK) def. Julia Rosenqvist (Cal), 2-6, 6-0, 6-3
3. Valentina Ivanov (Cal) vs. Carlota Molina (UK), 7-6(2), 5-7, 0-1 Unfinished
4. Jada Bui (Cal) def. Elizabeth Stevens (UK), 2-6, 6-1, 7-5^
5. Hannah Viller Moeller (Cal) def. Carla Girbau (UK), 6-2, 6-2
6. Anna Bright (Cal) def. Fiona Arrese (UK), 6-1, 6-1
Order of Finish - 6, 1, 5, 2, 4^
^Clinched the overall win
Cal draws the top overall seed in No.1 North Carolina in the next round, on Sunday at 4 pm PT from Orlando where the rest of this tournament (as well as the individual’s tournament for singles and doubles) will be held. UNC (28-0, 13-0 in ACC) had steamrolled over most of their opponents in 2021. They won the ITA Indoor tournament in early February with only the challenge in the final when they beat Texas 4-3 (the Texas Longhorns are the 2nd seed on the other side of the bracket of this NCAA tournament).
All six North Carolina singles players are not just ranked but highly ranked (No.2, No.27, No.32, No.36, No.41, and No.97). They also have the No.2 and No.4 ranked doubles pair in the country. Of course, we watch sports because one can not predict everything just from the rankings. Needless to say, Cal will need a lot of fight to extend the team’s postseason run beyond Sunday, but anything is possible.
For the NCAA singles and doubles tournament, Haley Giavara will be the lone Cal Bear in the singles draw. The pair of Giavara and Ivanov will represent the Golden Bears in the doubles championship.
Cal Baseball wins one at Arizona State
After sweeping Washington last weekend, Cal looked to improve their postseason chances when they hosted Arizona State (No.34 in the RPI) this past weekend.
Cal 7, Arizona State 2
Cal used a 4-run B3 to take control of this first game.
Shortstop Keshawn Ogan’s long home run (as well as the epic bat flip) highlighted Cal’s offensive attack.
In only his 2nd start, Josh White went 5.2 strong innings in making big pitches when necessary. The bottom third of the Cal lineup - Ogans, Steven Zobac, and Cole Elvis went 6 for 10 with 4 RBIs in this game.
After the Bears extended their winning streak to 5 with the Friday win described above, they lost the next two games (which still dropped ASU’s RPI from 34 to 36). Cal Baseball (24-21, 10-11 in Pac-12) will next play their Bay Area rival No.12 Stanford - Cal will host David Esquer’s Stanford for three games in Berkeley in Pac-12 action before a non-conference Monday game at The Farm. The regular season will conclude with a road series at No.23 UCLA and a home series vs. No.10 Oregon.
I guess should the Bears win an overwhelming majority of their remaining game, they might still seriously improve their current RPI of 110. Chances are (sadly), the Cal Bears will just be playing to improve their MLB Draft stock. My Cal in MLB Draft post that I thought that I would get out last week will be out this Friday.
In the meantime, Cal fans can and should vote for senior 2nd baseman Darren Baker for the Senior CLASS Award, even if his odds of winning are only somewhat better than that of Cal making the postseason this year.
Cal Softball wins first game since COVID-caused stoppage
After COVID issues within the team stopped two and half weeks’ worth of games (including the series at Stanford), Cal Softball was in their second week of play since the restart.
Cal 7, Long Beach State 1
Sophomore catcher/1st baseman Makena Smith hit her team-leading 7th homer as a part of a four-run first for the Bears. Smith is slashing a 0.333/0.420/0.583 line to be the best Cal hitter this year. Sabrina Nunez, Alexis Bishop, and Kacey Zobac each picked up two hits in this game.
Chloe Romero pitched a complete game, scattering just 4 hits and allowing 1 walk, to improve to 8-4 on the season inside the circle. Cal Softball got to experience a win again for the first time since April 11th (just before a COVID stoppage).
After being “run-ruled” by No.9 Arizona in two games last weekend, Cal’s 1-2 record this weekend was significantly better. The second game of the Long Beach State doubleheader saw the Bears push the game to extra innings before losing in the 9th. Cal’s midweek loss to Stanford was also by just two runs.
The regular season will conclude this weekend with a four-game home series against No.11 Oregon. Cal Softball (17-16, 3-8 in Pac-12) will look to conclude this year with a winning record.
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!