#20 California Softball 2016 Preview

California Golden Bears
Overall Rank: #20
Conference Rank: #5 Pac-12
 Cal Logo
California was one of those teams in 2015 that, win or lose, you knew you were in a battle with the Golden Bears. Veteran head coach Diane Ninemire has had a program that over the years has been insanely consistent and will always be in the mix for an NCAA Tournament berth and the 2016 season should not be any different. Now, the question will be can they do enough to earn one of the top 16 seeds nationally.
2015 record: 39-18, 10-14
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Diane Ninemire
Field Players:
There will have to be some retooling of the offense with the losses of Danielle Henderson and Cheyenne Cordes. Sophomore utility player Jazmyn Jackson will be back to lead the California lineup especially in the early stages of the season. Jackson can do a little of everything as she hit .446 with 83 total hits and stole 17 bases in 18 attempts last season. Infielder Kobie Pettis is the top returning power hitter from last season as Pettis hit seven homeruns and drove in 36. Those numbers should project to go up closer to 10 homeruns or more and 50 plus runs batted in this season.
Junior Katie Sutherland-Finch will be the ace of a rotation that will use several pitchers this season. Sutherland-Finch won 19 games in 2015 as the offense came through in several of her starts. One key for Sutherland-Finch heading into this season will be to try and reduce the amount of homeruns allowed in 2016. Opposing teams hit 29 homeruns off of Sutherland-Finch and hit .295 as a whole. Stephanie Trzcinski is back as well as the number two starter and will be looking to make a run at 20 wins after winning 15 last season.
Who to Watch:
Catcher Annie Aldrete, a transfer from Tennessee, is going to be a huge addition for this Golden Bears team. Aldrete hit .302 last season with 15 homeruns and 45 runs batted so her offensive production alone will be a gamechanger for this California lineup. Aldrete is also a pretty patient hitter overall and her experience behind the plate should enable the pitching staff to develop pretty quickly over the course of a long season.
Final Projection:
The schedule is treacherous for the Golden Bears as they will take on a very diverse group of teams before heading into conference play. Notre Dame, Kentucky, Michigan, Baylor, San Diego State, North Carolina State, Missouri, Fresno State and North Carolina will all be teams that California will see prior to opening Pac-12 play. The goal in the preseason is to have a strong performance against this gauntlet of teams and, if a winning record can be achieved, it will set the Golden Bears up nicely RPI wise. The conference schedule starts fast with a visit from UCLA starting on March 19. There will be a long stretch of road games between April 13 and May 4 that will test the mental toughness of California along with the overall depth of the pitching staff as the Golden Bears will play just two home games in that span. If the pitching can improve and the offense finds a rhythm early, then California should win at least 40 games in 2016.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Jazmyn Jackson, UTIL, 186
Hits: Jazmyn Jackson, UTIL, 83
Home Runs: Kobie Pettis, INF, 7
RBIs: Kobie Pettis, INF, 36
Runs: Jazmyn Jackson, UTIL, 50
Stolen Bases: Jazmyn Jackson, UTIL, 17
Wins: Katie Sutherland-Finch, P, 19
Innings Pitched: Katie Sutherland-Finch, P, 178.1
Strikeouts: Katie Sutherland-Finch, P, 120
Saves: Katie Sutherland-Finch, P, 4
Madness 2016 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#19 Lindasy Rood
#45 Brynne Fitzpatrick
#56 Kourtney Shaw