For Cal freshman Cheyenne Cordes, her game-winning, two-run home run in the fifth inning of the NCAA super regional final was the stuff of childhood dreams.
For the top-seeded Golden Bears, the 2-0 win over Washington on Sunday provides the chance to take their place as the greatest softball team in school history.
Cal (56-5) moves on to its 12th College World Series and will play Thursday at 12:30 p.m. PDT against LSU at Oklahoma City. Having tied the 2002 club's school record for victories in a season, the Bears will try to match that team's national title -- the only one in school history.
Cordes, batting ninth in Cal's lineup, gave winning pitcher Jolene Henderson all the offensive support she needed when she lined a shot over the left-field scoreboard with two outs in the top of the fifth.
"It's something prior to coming to Cal I dreamed about. I never thought it would be reality," she said of her game-winning homer. "It feels good."
Diane Ninemire, in her 25th season as Cal's coach, called the victory the biggest in program history in a game played at Berkeley. A sellout crowd of 1,125 fans at Levine-Fricke Field and an ESPN2 national TV audience watched the Bears win their first super regional crown at home.
Ninemire already has labeled this team the most talented she's had, with the caveat that it must win the national title to stand above the 2002 club.
Among those who will be cheering for the Bears in Oklahoma City is Washington coach Heather Tarr, whose 16th-seeded Huskies (39-20) didn't score a run against Cal in two games this weekend.
"They better win it all," said Tarr, a Santa Clara alum. "They had to fight to beat us, and hopefully that makes them better."
Henderson (36-2) wasn't sharp early but shut out the Huskies for the second day in a row. She allowed just three hits, struck out nine and overcame four walks, all in the first two innings.
And she got a huge defensive play from senior left fielder Jamia Reid, who made a diving stab of Shawna Wright's fly ball down the line with two out and the bases loaded in the first inning.
"Phenomenal," Henderson called the catch.
"I was just really getting pumped up," Reid said. "I told myself if something comes out here I'm getting it, without any doubt. It wasn't going to drop."
UW didn't get another ball out of the infield the rest of the afternoon, and didn't advance a runner past second base after the second inning.
Henderson, the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, improved to 6-0 in the postseason, her ERA dropping to 0.48 in seven outings.
"We've been able to ride on her shoulders," Ninemire said. "She had high pitch counts early -- it was a pretty tight (strike) zone. She gets better as she pitches more."
Tarr said the Huskies' inability to cash in early chances allowed Henderson to settle in.
"You have to attack her early," Tarr said. "Once you let go of the rope and she grabs a hold of the rope, it becomes a tug o' war. Usually a great pitcher wins that."
UW sophomore right-hander Bryana Walker kept Cal's potent offense under wraps through four hitless innings, but freshman Breana Kostreba opened the fifth with a sharp single to left.
After two outs, Cordes hit her seventh home run of the season, the 81st by the Bears.
"I just went up to the plate nice and relaxed. If you go up pressing, you normally mess up," Cordes said. "She gave me my pitch -- right down the middle."
College World Series
THURSDAY: Cal (56-5) vs. LSU (38-24), 12:30 p.m., ESPN2
Stanford baseball will be a host team for NCAA tournament regional.