Cal’s softball team had eight wins over nationally ranked teams during the regular season, but none was bigger than Saturday’s 4-2 victory over No. 20 Oregon at Levine-Fricke Field. The Bears entered the weekend in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985, and they were crushed in back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday. Even though Cal had one of toughest schedules in the country, it was only 32-30 heading into Saturday. A 32-31 record and losses in their final four games may have made it hard for the NCAA selection committee to grant the Bears a bid. But not only did Cal stop the bleeding, it did so against another top 25 team.
Now, Cal will enter the NCAA Tournament in an unfamiliar role — as longshots to make a deep run. Most Cal teams are expected to be serious contenders for the Women’s College World Series. This year’s team, with only one senior and an inexperienced pitching staff, will be tournament underdogs,
Cal gets it going Friday against Florida State at the University of Alabama. It’s a four-team, double-elimination regional, with the winner moving on to the Super Regionals. Alabama and Tennesee Tech are the other teams in the regional.