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Golf: Cal hopes to create legacy at NCAAs

The Cal men’s golf team, seeded No. 1 for the NCAA championships that begin Tuesday in suburban Atlanta, is the overwhelming favorite to win its second title in nine years.

But is there a special legacy awaiting the Golden Bears if they can walk away with the crown next Sunday?

Could they be considered the greatest collegiate golf team ever?

Junior Michael Weaver said winning next week “would put an exclamation point” on the Bears’ season. “There wouldn’t be any doubt we’re the best team they’ve ever seen.”

Perhaps it’s not that clear-cut, but the growing mountain of evidence is compelling:

– The Bears’ 11 tournament victories eclipsed the unofficial NCAA “modern-era” record of 10 since regional qualifying was added in 1988.

 – Their record against NCAA Division I opponents in 13 tournaments is a combined 173-3-1, and they won their 11 titles by an average margin of 14.72 strokes.

– In the two tournaments they didn’t win, the Bears finished second and third, falling short by a total of four strokes.

– All five Cal golfers have won at least once tournament title, topped by sophomore Michael Kim’s four victories.

“I kind of shake my head, like you’ve got to be kidding me,” Steve Desimone, in his 34th year as Cal’s coach, said of his team’s performance.

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THE FANTASTIC FIVE

Here’s a breakdown of Cal’s top five golfers, with Golf Week national ranking in parenthesis:

– Michael Kim (1): Average 18-hole score 70.1, 4 tournament wins, 6 top-5 finishes.
– Joel Stalter (13): Average 18-hole score 70.7, 2 wins, 4 top-5 finishes.
– Michael Weaver (16): Average 18-hole score 70.9, 1 win, 6 top-5 finishes.
– Max Homa (20): Average 18-hole score 70.8, 1 win, 5 top-5 finishes.
– Brandon Hagy (23): Average 18-hole score 71.0, 1 win, 5 top-5 finishes.

BAY AREA CHAMPIONS AT NCAA GOLF

Cal is favored to become the ninth Bay Area team to win the NCAA golf championship. Here are the first eight to do it:
1939: Stanford-x
1942: Stanford-y
1946: Stanford
1948: San Jose State
1953: Stanford
1994: Stanford
2004: Cal
2007: Stanford
x — The first official NCAA golf championship
y — Stanford shared title with LSU

 

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Softball: Bears bow out of NCAA regionals

The Cal women’s softball team was eliminated from the postseason on Sunday after a 3-1 loss to host Michigan in the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional.

The Bears (38-19) fell behind 2-0, got one run back when Cheyenne Cordes homered in the third, but never could catch the No. 7 Wolverines (48-10).

The Bears, coming out of the losers bracket, needed to beat UM twice Sunday to advance to the Super Regionals.

Jolene Henderson allowed seven hits and struck out six in the loss, and her sister Danielle Henderson had two hits.

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Golf: Cal roars to record victory at NCAA regional, Weaver rallies to share medalist honors

Cal’s top-ranked men’s golf team completed its wire-to-wire victory at the NCAA Pullman Regional, winning a modern NCAA-record 11th tournament this season. Leading the way was junior Michael Weaver, who played the Masters earlier this spring and Saturday rallied to earn a share of medalist honors.

The Bears (265-276-280-821) finished 43 strokes under par and beat runnerup Texas Christian by 20 strokes at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club. Saint Mary’s was third, USC fourth.

Cal previously shared the NCAA record of 10 tournament titles with the 1985-86 Oklahoma State team.

“I’ve been doing this for 34 years and there’s never been a team that’s been close to this,” Cal coach Steve Desimone said about the record. “There are a lot of reasons for it but primarily it has happened because these guys have understood all along what was out there for us and they’ve worked so hard. They are the epitome of a team.”

As one of the top five finishing teams at the Regionals, Cal advances to the NCAA Championships, May 28 through June 2 at Alpharetta, Ga.

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Softball: Henderson’s no-hitter keeps Cal alive

Senior Jolene Henderson powered Cal to a 6-0 win over Valparaiso (35-27) on Saturday afternoon, keeping the Bears alive in the Ann Arbor Regional of the NCAA tournament.

Cal (38-18) plays Sunday against No. 7 Michigan (47-10), which beat the Bears 5-0 earlier in the day. The Bears must beat the Wolverines twice to win the Regional and advance to the Super Regional round next week.

Cal is 7-2 all-time vs. Michigan, but the Wolverines have won the past two meetings, including Saturday’s matchup.

Henderson struck out seven, walked no one and allowed just one baserunner (on an error) in her seven-inning gem. It was her fourth career no-hitter.

Victoria Jones drove in two runs for the Bears and Khala Taylor had three hits.

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Softball: Bears blanked by Michigan at NCAAs

Cal lost 5-0 to host Michigan in a second-round winners-bracket game at the NCAA tournament Ann Arbor Regional on Saturday and will play at 2:30 p.m. PDT against either Central Michigan or Valparaiso.

The Bears (37-18) committed three errors and allowed the No. 7 Wolverines three unearned runs and now find themselves one defeat away from postseason elimination. Ashley Decker had two hits for Cal.

Lauren Sweet hit a pair of home runs for Michigan (47-10) and sophomore Sara Driesenga scattered five hits and struck out eight to win her 28th game of the season.

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Softball: Henderson sisters power Bears

Sophomore Danielle Henderson hit two home runs and senior Jolene Henderson pitched a two-hitter, lifting the Bears (37-17) to an 8-1 win over Central Michigan in their NCAA Ann Arbor (Mich.) Regional opener.

Cal plays a winners-bracket game Saturday against No. 7 Michigan (46-10), which beat Valparaiso 5-0.

Victoria Jones and Lindsey Ziegenhirt also homered for Cal.

Jolene Henderson struck out eight and allowed one unearned run. She is expected to face Michigan sophomore Sara Driesenga, who pitched her own two-hitter and struck out six against Valparaiso.

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Golf: Golden Bears scorch course for record score in first round of NCAA Pullman regional

The top-seeded Cal golf team set a course record to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the NCAA Pullman (Wash.) Regional at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club.

The Bears shot a 23-under par score of 265 and lead Saint Mary’s, which checked in at 267. The top five finishers qualify for the NCAA championships, May 28 through June 2 at Alpharetta, Ga.

“Yes, we want to win this tournament,” Cal coach Steve Desimone said. “But let’s not forget what the real goal is here, and that real goal is to finish in the top five and get to the NCAA Championship in Atlanta.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good spot for that, and if we can continue to do what we’ve done I like our chances. If we win even better, but let’s get to Atlanta. That’s the rallying cry.”

Cal, which has won 10 tournaments this season, got seven-under par scores of 65 from Joel Stalter and Michael Weaver. They are tied for third place.

The first-round leader is USC’s Sam Smith, who broke the course record with a 10-under par 62. Mac McClung of Saint Mary’s is second at 63.

Brandon Hagy shot a 66 for the Bears, Michael Kim had a 69 and Max Homa a 70.

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Softball: Bears chosen to NCAA regional

A year after earning a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament, the Cal softball team (36-17) was placed in a regional at Ann Arbor, Mich., its 28th consecutive trip to the NCAAs — the longest active streak in the country.

The Bears open play Friday against Central Michigan (33-18) at 4:30 p.m. The game will be shown on ESPN3. Also in the Ann Arbor regional are eighth-seeded Michigan (45-10) and Valparaiso (34-25).

The winner of the Michigan regional advances to play a best-of-three series against the winner of the LSU regional, featuring LSU, Central Connecticut, Louisiana-Lafayette and Northwestern State. 

Cal is aiming for its third straight College World Series bid.

Eight Pac-12 teams were included in the 64-team NCAA field, topped by conference champion and No. 3 seed Oregon and fifth-seeded Arizona State. ASU opens at home against San Jose State.

Stanford also claimed a spot in the event, and will open against Tulsa at Lincoln, Neb.

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Golf: Bears earn No. 1 NCAA regional seed

The No. 1-ranked Cal golf team was selected as the top seed in the 54-hole NCAA Pullman Regionals, May 16-18 in Pullman, Wash.

Cal is among 81 teams competing at six regional tournaments. The Pullman event will feature 14 schools, including No. 2 seed TCU. Also headed to Pullman are Saint Mary’s, Pacific, USC, BYU and San Diego State.

The Bears are playing in an NCAA regional for the seventh consecutive season.

“This is always the fun time of the year,” Cal coach Steve Desimone said. “You start with the conference championship, and we were successful there. As we now get to the NCAA Regional, we’re certainly not going to look past that. It will be very competitive. There are some really good teams in the regional. We’re going to have to be ready, and we’re going to have to play well.”

“We haven’t played the course before, but the one thing I’ve heard is that it’s a good, fair golf course,” Desimone added.

Cal has equaled the unofficial all-time NCAA victory record previously established by Oklahoma State in 1985-86 with victories in 10 of its first 12 tournaments in 2012-13. Most recently, the Bears defended their title at the Pac-12 Championship.

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Women’s basketball: Bears fall in Final Four

Up 10 points at halftime, the Cal women’s basketball team lost 64-57 to Louisville in the national semifinals at New Orleans on Sunday afternoon.

Click here for staff writer Stephanie Hammon’s story and a photo slideshow.

Cal shot 58 percent in the first half, then was taken out of its transition game and struggled offensively. The Bears turned the ball over 19 times and were just 4 for 15 from the 3-point line. They also never dealt with Louisville sharpshooter Antonita Slaugher, who shot 6 for 10 from the 3-point arc and scored 18 points.

Cal, which finished its greatest season with a 32-4 record, was led by senior guard Layshia Clarendon, with 17 points.

Louisville (29-8) advances to Tuesday’s national championship game against UConn, which routed Notre Dame 83-65, the day after the Cardinals’ men’s team faces Michigan for the NCAA crown.