Softball: No. 1 Bears eliminated by Tide

Cal softball coach Diane Ninemire has said her 2012 Golden Bears are the most talented team she’s coached in 25 years. She also said it remained to be seen whether they could match the 2002 squad, which won the school’s only NCAA championship in the sport.

The top-seeded Bears (58-7) came up short of that goal Sunday, losing 5-2 to No. 2 seed Alabama (58-7) in an elimination game at the College World Series.

Cal’s dream season is over, three wins shy of their goal.

The Crimson Tide hit three home runs off Jolene Henderson (38-4), who was the best pitcher in the Pac-12 all season but was not at her best in Oklahoma City.

Freshman Danielle Henderson hit a two-run homer for the Bears — her 16th — but Cal got just one other hit.

In fact, the Bears’ offense failed to do its part in both CWS defeats, totaling four hits against Oklahoma and Alabama. The Bears averaged 3.25 runs in four CWS games, less than half its season output.

Senior slugger Valerie Arioto, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, drew seven walks at the Series, but otherwise was 0 for 7 at the plate.

Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Oklahoma (53-8) posted a 5-3 win over No. 3 Arizona State, eliminating the Sun Devils and denying the Pac-12 a spot in the championship series for the first time after 26 years.

 — RUGBY: The Bears won the bronze medal at the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s tournament in Philadelphia. Cal beat Life University 26-7 at PPL Park in the third-place game after losing 21-19 to Dartmouth in the semifinals. The Bears opened the day with a 54-5 win over Texas in the quarterfinals.

The Bears finished the tournament with a 5-1 record and a plus-130 scoring margin.

Jeff Faraudo