Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
A place in the Women's College World Series is on the line as our softball team takes on unseeded Missouri in a best of 3 series beginning tonight at 6:30PM PST. The Bruins went 3-0 in their regional last weeked to get to the Supers, defeating Long Beach 4-2 and a feisty Fresno State twice by scores of 4-2 and 9-5. The Bruins didn't catch a break from NCAA despite their #2 overall seed-- The Los Angeles regional was one of the toughest in the nation with all 4 participating teams in the top 50 RPI. All 3 games saw the Bruins lose their lead early, but as is common with UCLA softball, clutch hitting, solid defense, and efficient pitching pushed the Bruins through to the next round.
Let's be clear: Missouri is dangerous. Many were shocked they weren't one of the 16 seeded teams, seeing as they spent almost the entire season in the top 25 and defeated #7 seed Oklahoma 5-0 in the Big-12 Championship. The Tigers handled #15 seed DePaul during regional play, defeating the Blue Demons 1-0 to advance. Missouri is anchored by a deep pitching staff, helmed by freshman Chelsea Thomas and senior Stacey Delaney. Between 4 pitchers, Missouri boasts a meager 1.27 ERA. On the other side of the ball, the Tigers get it done while averaging 5.7 runs per game. The offensive player to watch is sophomore leadoff Rhea Taylor, who boasts a .422 average and 35 stolen bases.
The Bruins faced the Tigers on March 1 during the San Diego Classic . The Bruins came out on top 2-1 thanks to a wild pitch by Chelsea Taylor in the bottom of the 7th that allowed UCLA pinch runner Grace Murray to score from third. Each team only managed 3 hits off the other. UCLA needs to be much more patient this time around against Taylor, a junk ball pitcher with lots of movement.
As in any sport, it is a huge asset playing against a team they've faced before. The team can review video and hopefully pick up on things they missed the first time. It also doen't hurt that the Bruins are peaking at just the right time. They have won 18 of their last 19, earning a Pac-10 title along the way. The Bruin offense is one of the most potent in the country with a team slugging percentage of .554 aided by 77 homeruns. The lineup is intimidating 1 through 9, so opposing teams don't get much of a break.
On defense, look for Megan Langenfeld to start in the circle. Langenfeld has been very consistant with hitting her spots, meaning she won't get tons of strikeouts (à la Anjelica Selden) but instead will jam opposing hitters into routine ground balls or fly outs.
All games will be televised on ESPNU. Game 1 begins at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Easton Stadium, with Game 2 slated for 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. An if necessary Game 3 will be played 30 minutes after Game 2 on Sunday.