Softball: Arkansas stuns No. 1 Bears, 3-2


Arkansas, which finished 7-21 in the Southeastern Conference and endured a 10-game losing streak at one point this season, knocked off top-seeded Cal 3-2 on Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Berkeley regional.

The Bears (51-5) must now win three straight games to survive the regional and advance to the Super Regional round a week from now.

Boston U (41-15) outlasted Iona 4-3 in 13 innings to survive in the losers-bracket and set up an elimination game with Cal. Originally scheduled for 7 p.m., the game is expected to begin between 8:30 and 9 p.m. 

The winner moves on to Sunday’s championship series, beginning at 5 p.m.

Cal would need to beat the Razorbacks (29-26) twice to claim the regional title and advance.

One more defeat and the Bears’ spectacular season is over.

 Arkansas scored three times in the first inning, knocking starter Valerie Arioto out of the game, and the Bears never recovered. Arioto retired just one batter and allowed two runs before Jolene Henderson came on, surrendering the third run.

Jamie Reid stole home to get Cal on the books in the third inning, then Britt Vonk scored on an error in the fifth. But the Bears managed just five hits for the game, and freshman Breana Kostreba fouled out with two runners on in the seventh to end the game.


Softball: Bears score 8-0 mercy victory

Top-seeded Cal (51-4) routed Iona 8-0 in a five-inning NCAA tournament opener in front of 1,059 fans at Levine-Fricke Field.

The Bears will play Saturday at 3 p.m. against Arkansas (28-26), which beat Boston U 3-2 in the first game.

Cal scored three runs in the first and five in the fifth before the game was stopped. Freshman Breana Kostreba singled and homered and drove in three runs. Frani Echavarria added a pair of hits.

Two-time Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Jolene Henderson (31-2)  allowed two hits in five innings, striking out seven and walking no one.

— BASEBALL: No. 11 UCLA (37-13, 16-9 Pac-12) posted a 7-2 win over the Bears (26-23, 9-16) at Evans Diamond. The loss was Cal’s fourth in its past five games.


Basketball: Gutierrez gets shot at NBA combine

Former Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez, the Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2012, will participate this weekend at the NBA Draft combine at East Rutherford, N.J.

Gutierrez is among three Pac-12 players at the event, joined by Stanford’s Josh Owens and Arizona’s Kyle Fogg. Two Bay Area products — Richmond’s Eli Holman (Detroit) and San Jose’s Drew Gordon (New Mexico) — are among the 44 players invited.

Gutierrez is included in Group 1, scheduled to be on the floor at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Saturday.

Players will be split into four groups of 11, half of them competing Saturday, the others on Sunday. Players will be put through agility tests and skill work, and will have the chance to show their games in five-on-five action.

Prospects also will be interviewed by media, scouts, agents and team front office representatives.


Football: Cal wideout Keenan Allen selected to Phil Steele’s All-America third team

Cal junior WR Keenan Allen has been named to Phil Steele’s preseason All-America third team.

Allen shared all-Pac-12 first-team honors with OT Matt Summers-Gavin and  DL Aaron Tipoti.

OL Brian Schwenke was a second-team all-conference pick, DB Marc Anthony and TB Isi Sofele were third-team picks and LB Cecil Whiteside a fourth-team selection.

What? No fifth-team?


Rugby: Why Bears won’t play for national title

BYU and Arkansas State will play Saturday night for the national collegiate rugby title that Cal has won 26 of the past 32 years.

Here’s why the Bears passed on the chance to pocket another title this season.

— Water polo: Two former Cal stars were named to the U.S. Olympic women’s water polo team. Heather Petri, 33, a former All-America star at Cal and Miramonte HS grad, was named to her fourth Olympic team. And ex-Cal star Elsie Windes has earned a spot on her second Olympic roster.

— Track and field: Courtesy of “Bring Back the Mile,” here’s a 4-minute interview with former Cal middle-distance star David Torrence, a contender for the London Olympics.


Softball: Bears ready to open NCAAs vs. Iona

The top-ranked, top-seeded Cal softball team (50-4) takes its first step toward a return trip to the College World Series when it plays host to Iona (35-24) on Friday at 7 p.m.

Boston U (40-12) and Arkansas (27-26) duel in the 5 p.m. game at Levine-Fricke Field.

The double-elimination event runs through Sunday. If Cal wins, it will host the Super Regionals for a best-of-three series with a bid to the CWS on the line.

Cal vs. Iona figures to be a mismatch. The Bears outhit the Gaels .320 to .267, outscore them .680 runs per game to 3.32 and outslug them 1.35 home runs per game to 0.44.

The Bears boast the nation’s No. 1 RPI. Iona is No. 163, according to the computer.

If the Gaels have a chance it’s with their pitching. They boast a 1.35 team earned run average, sixth-best in the country. Cal is third at 1.27.

Senior Alyssa Maiese is 17-10 with a 1.25 ERA and was the MAAC co-Player of the Year. Senior Sarah Jackson is 17-12 with a 1.26 ERA and was conference Pitcher of the Year. But the Gaels have been shut out 10 times this season.

Iona’s second-year coach, Roni Rivera, is a 2003 graduate of Santa Clara.

My pick: Cal 8, Iona 0.

— All-Pacific Regional team: Cal placed four players — first baseman/pitcher Valerie Arioto, third baseman Danielle Henderson, pitcher Jolene Henderson and left fielder Jamia Reid — on the All-Pacific Region first team, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced.



Softball: Bears sweep major Pac-12 awards; Arioto, Henderson, Ninemire earn honors

The top-ranked Cal women’s softball team swept the major Pac-12 Conference awards, with senior Valerie Arioto winning Player of the Year, junior Jolene Henderson earning Pitcher of the Year and Diane Ninemire named Coach of the Year.


Jolene and Danielle Henderson have World Series ambitions


A three-time all-conference pick, Arioto (Foothill High-Pleasanton) is the first Cal player named Pac-12 Player of the Year. She leads the Pac-12 with a 1.22 earned run average, 22 home runs, a 1.000 slugging percentage and .626 on-base percentage.

In Cal’s title-clinching wins over Arizona State last weekend, Arioto hit a walk-off game-winning home run in the seventh inning of the first game, then pitched a shutout the next day.

Arioto on winning the award (courtesy of Cal athletics): “This is a great accomplishment to end my senior year in Pac-12 play! The success of my team has played a huge role in helping me get this award!”

Henderson is 30-2 with a 1.22 ERA and a repeat winner of the Pitcher of the Year award. She and Arioto are both finalists for USA Collegiate Softball Player of the Year honors.

Henderson on winning the award: “This is really cool and shows how hard my team has worked this year. We’d never win a game if there weren’t 20 of us working hard at practice and in our games with our coaches’ support. My teammates have been amazing all year – defensively stellar and off the hook when it came to their bats.”

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Football: Bartkowski enters college Hall of Fame; Where does he rate among Cal’s best QBs?

Former Cal quarterback Steve Bartkowski, who led the nation with 2,850 passing yards in 1974, then was the first overall pick of the 1975 NFL draft, was elected as a member of the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision Class.

Bartkowski is among 14 former All-Americans and three coaches who make up the 2012 class.

“It’s an absolute honor, and I’m humbled by it, especially now that I hear some of the guys that are along with me in this class,” Bartkowski was quoted in Cal’s news release. “I’m absolutely thrilled. It’s one of the highest honors I’ve received, and I’m grateful for it.”

So, where does Bartkowski rate among the greatest Cal QBs?

It’s difficult comparing players from different eras, but starting an argument is the whole point of these lists, right?

So, let’s hear from all you.

Before you send me your top-10 list, here’s mine:

1. Aaron Rodgers (2003-04): Great college QB, great pro QB.

2. Steve Bartkowski (1972-74): Cal’s only No. 1 overall NFL draft pick delivered.

3. Troy Taylor (1986-89): Efficient, tough QB produced with limited help.

4. Mike Pawlawski (1988-91): Tough-guy leader of ’91 Citrus Bowl winner.

5. Pat Barnes (1993-96): Threw for school-record 3,499 yards, 34 TDs as senior. 

6. Craig Morton (1962-64): Good enough to be All-America on 3-7 team.

7. Joe Kapp (1956-58): Forget the rest — he was most recent Rose Bowl QB.

8. Joe Roth (1975-76): Directed a magical offensive unit in ’75.

9. Dave Barr (1992-94): Cool Concord kid was underrated, maybe even by me.

10. Rich Campbell (1978-80): Has to be a place for 7,174 yards, 64.5 percent.

   Honorable mention: Paul Larson (1951-54), Gale Gilbert (1980-84), Kyle Boller (1999-2002).


Softball: Arioto named Pac-12 pitcher of week

Cal senior Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton) was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week after throwing a complete-game shutout in the top-ranked Bears’ 5-0 title-clinching win over Arizona State last Saturday.

Arioto, 20-2 on the season, struck out 11 and walked just one in the victory that locked up Cal’s first outright conference title since 1987.

Cal opens play in the Berkeley regional of the NCAA tournament on Friday against Iona. First pitch is 7 p.m. at Levine-Fricke Field.