CORVALLIS, Ore. – Junior right-hander Marina Demore had her best start in two months, tossing six innings of five-hit ball against the nation’s top team, and senior Paige Hall took over sole possession of fifth place on the Beavers’ all-time strikeouts list, but the 22nd-ranked Oregon State softball team dropped a close 4-2 contest to No. 1 Cal on Saturday afternoon.
The Beavers (33-18, 8-11) found themselves down early when Cal’s Valerie Arioto hit a solo home run in the first inning, her 21st of the season, to left field to give the Golden Bears a 1-0 lead. Cal would add two more in the third on a Jace Williams RBI double and Victoria Jones RBI single, but the damage was minimized by Demore, as she caught Frani Echavarria looking to end the frame with the bases loaded.
Demore, who hadn’t thrown six or more innings since a March 2nd start against Indiana, confidently set down Cal’s vaunted lineup in tough situations. In addition to leaving the bases loaded in the third, she induced a double play after the first two batters reached in the second, set down the top of Cal’s order on just nine pitches in the fourth and ended the fifth with back-to-back strikeouts of Danielle Henderson and Jones.
Offensively for OSU, the script was flipped from yesterday’s contest, as the Beavers put up two runs thanks to three Golden Bear errors in the game. In the bottom of the fourth Desiree Beltran led off with a single and was run for by Isabelle Batayola. Lea Cavestany hit a grounder to short that was thrown away trying to get Batayola at second, allowing Oregon State’s lead runner to move to third. Kirk Walker then called a double steal, which Batayola and Cavestany executed flawlessly to pull OSU to within two, 3-1.
Cal (47-3, 18-2) added another in the fifth on a solo home run from Breana Kostreba, but made two more miscues in the sixth to aid the Beavers in scoring again. Nikki Chandler reached on an error and advanced all the way to third when Cavestany’s single down the right-field line was nearly thrown over OSU’s dugout by Cal’s outfielder. Ally Kutz walked to load the bases and Ya Garcia was hit by a pitch to drive in Oregon State’s second run and make the score 4-2, the eventual final.
Hall pitched her usual solid work in relief, coming on in the seventh and striking out the side after Cal’s first two batters had reached base. Her 378 career strikeouts put her in fifth place all-time at Oregon State in that category.
The third and final game of the series begins tomorrow, Sunday, May 6 at 11 a.m. Senior Day presentations for Emily Richardson, Nikki Chandler, Mary Claire Brenner, Erin Guzy and Paige Hall will take place after the game.