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Football: Bears go to Texas to pluck linebacker

Chad Whitener, a three-star inside linebacker prospect from Mansfield High in Mansfield, Texas, has made an oral commitment to Cal, according to several recruiting websites.

Whitener picked the Bears over Colorado State, Rice, SMU and Louisiana Tech.

According to Rivals.com, he is 6-foot-1, 235 pounds. Rivals also credits him as having made 195 tackles as a junior in 2011, although Scout.com says that number should be 130. In any case, a lot of tackles.

Whitener is the fifth recruit in the class of 2013 to give Cal a commitment, the third from out of state.

Here’s a video highlight reel of his junior season.

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Softball: Arioto among 3 finalists for player of year

Cal softball senior pitcher/first baseman Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton) is among three finalists for USA Softball’s Collegiate Player of the Year award.

Also still in the running are Arizona State shortstop Katelyn Boyd and Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts.

Arioto is third nationally with a .968 slugging percentage, sixth in home runs (22), second in on-base percentage (.641), 11th in earned run average (1.32) and fourth in runs (64). Her 87 walks are 26 more than any other player in the country.

The winner will be announced May 29.

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Track and Field: Ex-Cal star David Torrence runs Olympic “A” standard for 1,500 meters

Former Cal middle-distance running star and East Bay resident David Torrence has cleared a huge obstacle in his quest for a spot in the London Olympics.

Torrence, 26, achieved the Olympic “A” qualifying standard in the 1,500 meters on Friday, clocking a time of 3 minutes, 35.41 seconds at the Occidental College High-Performance Meet in Los Angeles.

Torrence needed to run faster than 3:35.50 to get the “A” mark, which means that he now qualifies for London if he secures a top-3 finish in the event at the U.S. trials next month in Eugene.

It’s a big deal, because often events such as the 1,500 become slower, tactical races at the trials as athlete compete for positions more than times. So getting the “A” standard at the trials is less likely. Now it’s out of the way for Torrence.

For those who don’t pay attention to track, his 1,500 time translates to 3:52.64 for the mile. Pretty fast.

Torrence burst onto the scene as a Cal junior in 2007 when he ran 3:58.62 to break Don Bowden’s 50-year-old school record in the mile. In 1957, Bowden became the first American to break the 4-minute mile.

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Basketball: Anderson picked to USA Select team

Ex-Cal star Ryan Anderson was among 13 players chosen to the USA Basketball Select Team that will help prepare the U.S. Olympic team for this summer’s London Games.

Also chosen to the squad were Warriors rookie Klay Thompson and NBA sensation Jeremy Lin of Palo Alto.

In his fourth pro season, Anderson was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player this season after producing 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Orlando Magic.

Members of the USA Select Team will conduct a training session in Las Vegas on July 5, then train with the USA National Team July 6-11.
 
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said being part of the USA Select Team can be a stepping stone to eventually joining the national team and is critical to to the Olympic team’s preparation.
 
Also chosen to the squad were NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, 2011 Rookie of the Year runnerup John Wall of the Washington Wizards and DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings.
 
Lin, who attended Palo Alto High and Harvard, had a breakout season with the New York Knicks, averaging 14.6 points and 6.2 assists. Thompson, out of Washington State, averaged 12.5 points in his debut season with the Warriors.
 
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Softball: Cal-Washington super regional series set for Saturday-Sunday at Berkeley

UPDATED
 
The top-seeded Cal softball team will face Pac-12 rival Washington in the NCAA super regional best-of-three series, beginning Saturday at Levine-Fricke Field in Berkeley. Game time is 7 p.m.
 
Game 2 of the series will begin 4 p.m. Sunday with a third game, if necessary, at 6:30 p.m.
 
All games will be televised on ESPN2.
 
The winner of the series advances to the College World Series, May 31 through June 6 in Oklahoma City.
 
Cal (54-5) is coming off a pair of wins over Arkansas on Sunday to claim the Berkeley regional title. The Bears beat Washington (39-17) three times in Berkeley on the way to the Pac-12 championship. 
 
Ticket info: All-session passes for the Berkeley Super Regional will go on sale on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Fans can purchase tickets at the Athletic Ticket Office in Berkeley, calling 800-GO-BEARS and online at Calbears.com. Prices are $35 for all-session chairback; $25 for all-session adult bleacher; $15 for all-session senior/youth (12th grade and under)/student bleacher. 
 
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Softball: Bears complete regional rally past Arkansas, await UW in Super Regionals

The top-seeded Cal softball team didn’t flinch after losing Saturday to Arkansas.

Instead, the Bears (54-5) won three in a row — including by scores of 10-2 and 7-0 over the Razorbacks on Sunday — to captured the NCAA Berkeley regional.

On the brink of having their spectacular season ended two weekends early, the Bears now await a Super Regional assignment at Levine-Fricke Field against Pac-12 rival Washington.

ESPN, which will televise the Super Regional round next weekend, will announce the dates of the Cal-UW series on Monday. The teams will either play Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday.

Here’s my full game story.

– BASEBALL: The Bears (27-24, 10-17 Pac-12) closed out their home schedule with a 6-5 win over No. 11 UCLA (38-14, 17-10) at Evans Diamond, scoring four times in the eighth inning to rally from a 4-2 deficit. Chadd Krist singled and homered and drove in a pair of runs for Cal, which ends the season next week with a three-game series at Stanford.

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Softball: Bears rout Arkansas, force final

Cal softball remains alive.

Senior Frani Echavarria capped a 4-for-4 performance with a grand slam in the fifth inning and the top-seeded Cal softball team beat Arkansas 10-2 on Sunday evening to force a winner-take-all showdown for the NCAA Berkeley regional title.

The teams were scheduled to play again Sunday, beginning at about 7:10 p.m., with the winner advancing to next week’s Super Regional.

Cal (53-5), which lost 3-2 to the Razorbacks (29-27) in Saturday’s winners-bracket semifinal, never trailed in the rematch.

Echavarria, who also had a single and two doubles, was greeted by the Levine-Fricke Field crowd with a chant of “Hip, hip Frani,” a nod to Cal basketball star Jorge Gutierrez, her boyfriend.

Jolene Henderson (33-2) struck out the side in the fifth inning to end the game as the “mercy” rule was invoked.

Cal drew first blood with three runs in the second inning.

Victoria Jones and Jamia Reid each singled before Britt Vonk laid down a two-out bunt. She outran the throw, which bounced away, allowing both Jones to score.

Arkansas starter Hope McLemore — pitching just her fifth game of the season — then intentionally walked Pac-12 Player of the Year Val Arioto, loading the bases. Echavarria responded with a two-run double to right-center for a 3-0 lead.

But Arkansas cut the margin to a single run in the third inning when Tori Mort beat out an infield hit before SEC Freshman of the Year Devon Wallace drilled a 2-run homer to center.

The Bears answered with three runs in the top of the fourth for a 6-2 lead. Arioto walked to open the inning — her 10th in 14 regional plate appearances — before Echavarria doubled for the second time. Arioto scored on a groundout by Jace Williams, then freshman Danielle Henderson blasted a two-run homer to right.

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Softball: Bears rebound, cruise into regional final

Top-seeded Cal (52-5) bounced back from a second-round loss to Arkansas and now will face the Razorbacks (29-26) in Sunday’s Berkeley regional final of the NCAA tournament.

The Bears beat Boston University 8-0 in six innings and now must defeat the Razorbacks twice to win the regional title and advance to next week’s Super Regionals. Sunday’s first game is at 5 p.m. at Levine-Fricke Field.

Arkansas beat Cal 3-2 in Sunday’s winners-bracket semifinal.

Jolene Henderson struck out 11 in six innings and allowed just three hits while improving to 32-2.

Cal scored in every inning after the first to methodically pull away from the Terriers (41-16) in the elimination game.

Victoria Jones homered in the second inning while Jamie Reid, Britt Vonk and Val Arioto each had two hits.

 

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Golf: Cal men win Stanford regional, advance to NCAA championships for third straight year

The Cal men’s golf team will compete in the NCAA championships for the third straight year after winning the Stanford regional by six strokes on Saturday.

The Bears have won six of 13 events they entered this season, but this was their first regional championship.

Cal will be among 30 teams participating in the May 30 through June 3 collegiate nationals at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

 The Bears had three top-10 individual finishers at the regionals, led by Brandon Hagy, who finished third with an 11-under-par score of 199. Michael Kim tied for fourth one stroke back and Max Homa tied for 10th with a four-under 206.

San Diego State, Alabama-Birmingham, Stanford and Central Florida nabbed the next four places in the team race and also qualified for the NCAA championships.

– BASEBALL: No. 11 UCLA (38-13, 17-9 Pac-12) scored an 8-5 victory over the Bears (26-24, 9-17), giving the Bruins wins in the first two games of the series at Evans Diamond. The teams play again Sunday at 1 p.m. Cal’s Chad Bunting went 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI and Danny Oh was 2 for 3 with two RBI.