BERKELEY, Calif. - In a battle for the Pac-12 lead, the No. 9 University of Oregon softball team (32-6, 9-2) split the first two games of its series at No. 4 California (30-5, 6-2) Saturday.
En route to its first victory in Berkeley since 2007, UO won the first game, 5-1, between the returning Women's College World Series advancers. In the second game, the Bears bounced back with a 3-1 decision for its first victory over a top-10 team this year.
In the first contest, Duck senior second baseman Kaylan Howard connected on her team-leading fifth game-winning RBI of the year, thanks to her solo homer in the fourth inning.
That shot to right field was her 36th career round-tripper and team-leading 12th of the season, and moved her second and seventh all-time for UO, respectively, in each category.
The returning All-Region choice from Riverside, Calif., also climbed Duck career categories Saturday in runs (fifth, 133) and doubles (ninth, 34).
The next two batters - junior first baseman Kailee Cuico and senior right fielder Samantha Pappas - followed with doubles for UO's next run.
In the fifth inning, sophomore center fielder Janie Takeda lined an RBI double, and Howard added a two-out RBI single.
Oregon's final run in the sixth came after junior DP Alexa Peterson was hit by a pitch, advanced on two passed balls, and scored on a Takeda single.
In the circle, senior Jessica Moore (16-3) topped her fourth top 15-ranked foe of the season. The returning All-American posted her sixth complete game of the season, struck out six, walked none, allowed eight hits, and her one run allowed was unearned.
Moore likewise upped her school career records for wins (89), strikeouts (816), innings (815.2) and appearances (159)
On other Duck all-time lists, Pappas made improvements in career categories for RBI (fourth, 138), doubles (fifth, 36) and hits (sixth, 213).
Cal's returning Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Jolene Henderson (25-4) pitched the first five innings. The senior right-hander struck out six, walked none, gave up six hits, and two of her four runs allowed were earned.
The Bears' Nikki Owens worked the final two innings, struck out one, walked one, allowed two hits and one unearned run.
At the plate for the returning Pac-12 champions, second baseman Brittany Vonk went 2-for-4, and scored the team's lone run in the sixth inning after she tripled and scored on an infield error.
Saturday's first-game victory ended the Bears' seven-game series winning streak in Berkeley after its previous victories in 2011 (3), '09 (2), '08 (1) and '07 (1). The Ducks' last win at Levine-Fricke Field was its first Berkeley meeting in '07 - an 8-2 decision.
Cal came back to win the second game after it scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings off Duck starter Cheridan Hawkins (13-3).
UO broke up the shutout attempt by Henderson with a run in the fifth inning.
Howard reached on an error by the first baseman, and after a double by Cuico and walk to Pappas, Peterson lined an RBI single to left field.
Cuico (2-for-4) picked up her seventh multi-hit game of the season, and six other Ducks hit safely once.
In her third complete game of the campaign, Hawkins struck out 10 - her fourth double-digit 'K' effort of the year. The freshman from Anderson, Calif., allowed two walks and six hits, and all three of her runs allowed were earned.
Henderson came back in the second game with a complete game, struck out four, walked two, allowed eight hits, and her run allowed was earned.
Third baseman Danielle Henderson (2-for-2, 2 HR, 2 RBI) led the Bears in hits, and four others hit safely once.
The Bears scored their first run in the second inning on Henderson's homer to left center field, and her other four-bagger came in the fifth inning to right field.
In the third inning, Cal added its other run on a hit by pitch and pair of singles.
Going into the weekend, UO led the Pac-12 standings with an 8-1 league mark, while Cal was tied for second place with No. 2 Arizona State with 5-1 records.
The Sun Devils won both of their games Saturday at No. 14 Stanford by 12-6 and 11-2 (6 innings) scores to move ahead of the Ducks by percentage points.
Looking ahead, UO and Cal meet in the series finale Sunday at noon.