UCLA Softball 2021 Season Preview Part 1

Preseason top ranked UCLA Softball released its 2021 Schedule.

UCLA softball’s season begins with a weekend homestand next Friday, Feb. 12 against Fresno State followed with a Saturday double header vs. Cal Poly.

Fresno State (2020 21-4, 2019 37-20) lost twice to UCLA in 2019 behind a 3 hit complete game gem by Holly Azevedo and a Run Rule no hitter by Megan Faraimo. They are led by a junior and 3 seniors: McKenzie Wilson (.474) Miranda Rohleder (.373), Kaitlyn Jennings (.362), and Schuylar Broussard (.342). Their ace is Senior Hailey Dolcini (10-1, 1.51 ERA). Maya Brady’s mom was a 1994 All-American pitcher at Fresno State.

Cal Poly (2020 10-13, 2019 11-40) lost to UCLA in 2020 (8-0) behind a Holly Azevedo 3 hit run rule shut out. They are led by Kianah Corey (.400), Hannah Ramelot (.375), Maddie Amos (.359). Their ace is Krystyna Allman (6-3 ERA 3.06).

The next weekend, the Bruins will face a sterner test. They open with a double header against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday (2/20) followed by a double header against Loyola Marymount on Sunday (2/21).

Cal State Fullerton (2019 38-18, 2020 14-10) forced UCLA to win back-to-back games in the 2018 LA regionals and lost to UCLA (5-1) in 2019. Megan Faraimo pitched a 3 hit, 1 run complete game. CSF is led by Sophomore Megan Delgadillo (.408). They return 3 experienced pitchers Sophie Frost (4-3, 4.01 ERA), Dani Martinez (6-4, 2.93 ERA) and Trish Parks (4-3, 2.95) coached by former UA Wildcat Danielle O’Toole. UCLA will play CSF again later in the season (3/13).

Loyola Marymount (2019 40-19, 2020 13-10) is led by our very own Taira Flowers (nee Mims) who left Cal State University Northridge after 10 seasons with assistant coach Mysha Sataraka (UCLA 2016). The team returns 4 talented players, Molly Grumbo (.487) Desiree Moreno (.355), Andrea Gonzalez (.351) and Riley Ehlen (.338) and a strong 2020 (8) recruiting class. Coach Flowers has another strong class next year highlighted by former UCLA commit Savannah Hooks. The Lions will rely on a stable of young pitchers (Team ERA 2020 5.73) to improve pitching performance. The Bruins will play LMU again 4/2.

UCLA finishes it homestand with a mid-week game against San Diego State (2019 25-26, 2020 17-11) where another UCLA Alum, Hall of Famer Stacey Nuveman Deniz is "head coach in waiting". The Bruins beat SDS last year 5-0 on a combined 3 hit shutout by Holly Azevedo and Megan Faraimo. The pitching staff is anchored by two quality pitchers Hannah Johnson (5-2 2.03 ERA) and Maggie Balint (8-5 2.40 ERA)

UCLA plays 3 conference games in a round-robin tournament at Farrington stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

The Bruins are scheduled to play 6 games against Oregon (2019 22-30, 2020 22-2) this season and will open the tournament with the first 2 games against the Ducks. Another familiar face in the opposing dugout is Oregon assistant coach and UCLA alum Megan Langenfeld (UCLA 2011). After losing the opening game (3-4) in 2019, UCLA came back to win the next two (8-3, 8-1) to take the series. Their ace Jordan Dail (2020 5-1 2.39 ERA) pitched 15/19 innings in that series. She has help from transfers Samaria Diaz (2020 8-0, 1.00 ERA) and Brooke Yanez (2020 9-1, 1.96 ERA) this year. Oregon returns 5 starters batting over .300. Haley Cruse (.457), Allee Bunker (.429), Rachel Cid (.387), Terra McGowan (.375) and Mya Felder (.356) along with Ariel Carlson (.294) constitute the top of their lineup last year. The remaining 4 games will be played in Oregon (4/9-4/11).

UCLA’s final game of the tournament will be against Utah (2019 19-35, 2020 14-4). The Bruins swept Utah (3-0, 9-1 (5),10-0 (5)) in 2019 with dominating pitching performance. Rachel Garcia, Megan Faraimo and Holly Azevedo combined to allow only one run in 17 innings. Utah returns 4 players batting over .300. Alyssa Berrera (.421), Haley Denning (.397), Ellessa Bonstrom (.380) and Madi Jacobus (.371) and have added Jacquez Savannah Whatley (Softball America) top 100 and Ailya Belarde (Flo Softball hot 100). Their top pitcher is Sydney Sandez (11-3 2.42 ERA). The Bruins will play 4 more games in Utah (4/30-5/2)

UCLA returns home to play 3 games.

The Bruins host Div. 2 UC San Diego (3/4) (2019 37-17, 2020 21-8). UCSD was ranked 2nd in the west and made the Div. 2 World Series in 2019. The Tritons return 5 players batting over .300. Their ace is Robyn Wampler (11-3, 1.13 ERA).

UCLA plays at Long Beach St. (3/6) (2019 25-25, 2020 13-12). The two teams are familiar with each other and often play fall exhibition games. The Bruins struggled to beat LB St. in 2019 (5-3 8 innings). The Beach returns 7 players batting over .300. Their only returning experienced pitcher Kellie White (8-5, 2.52 ERA) will receive help from Shannon Haddad (11-3 1.00 ERA) a transfer from San Jose St.

The Bruins return to Easton to play San Jose St. (3/7) (2019 37-16, 2020 21-5). UCLA beat the Spartans in 2018 (10-0 (5)) scoring 9 runs in the bottom of the 4th as Rachel Garcia pitched a 1 hitter. San Jose St. is led by pitchers Ilona Sullivan 4-1 1.05 ERA) and Caroline Bowman (3-0 1.83) and return 4 players batting over (.300).

The final weekend before conference play begins with UCLA hosting UC Santa Barbara in a doubleheader (3/11) followed by a final game against Cal State Fullerton (3/13)

The Bruins play UC Santa Barbara (2019 10-42, 2020 12-16) in a Thursday double header. UCLA run ruled the Gauchos (9-1 (5)) in 2018 behind Holly Azevedo. UCSB features a trio of pitchers including Felisha Noriega 10-5 (2.38 ERA) the losing pitcher in 2018. Their lineup returns 5 batters hitting over .300.

UCLA’s final game before conference play will be a rematch with Cal St. Fullerton.

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