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UCLA Softball - Day 2 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic

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Selina Ta'amilo hurled a three-hit shutout to give #8 UCLA a 2-0 opening day victory over #15 UCF in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. On day 2 of the tournament, the Bruins play Notre Dame and Cal Poly in an afternoon doubleheader.

@UCLASoftball

#8 UCLA Softball (5-1)

Game 1 Opponent: Notre Dame (4-3)

When: 3:00 PM PST, Saturday, February 20, 2016

Where: Big League Dreams Sports Park, Cathedral City, CA

Audio: None

Video: Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Live Stream

Live StatsUCLA StatBroadcast

Game 2 Opponent: Cal Poly (5-2)

When: 5:30 PM PST, Saturday, February 20, 2016

Where: Big League Dreams Sports Park, Cathedral City, CA

Audio: None

Video: Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Live Stream

Live StatsUCLA StatBroadcast

UCLA Tournament Preview | UCLA Tournament NotesMary Nutter Collegiate Classic Website

Thanks to the arm of sophomore hurler Selina Ta'amilo, the Bruins opened the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic with an important win over 15th-ranked UCF. Ta'milo pitched a three-hit complete game shutout against the Knights to lead the Bruins to a 2-0 victory. Ta'amilo finished with a career-best 10 strikeouts in improving her record to 4-0.

Ta'amilo needed to be sharp since the Bruins struggled at the plate. UCLA batters managed just four hits against UCF and struck out 10 times, including 5 strikeouts by the Bruins' 3, 4, and 5 hitters. However, the Bruins pushed a pair of runs across the plate in the third when freshman Zoe Shaw led off the inning with a double to the gap in left-center, and Allexis Bennett followed with a bunt single. Bennett then promptly stole second, and Kylee Perez walked to load the bases. After the Knights retired Delaney Spaulding for the first out of the inning, Madeline Jelenicki drilled a grounder to short, and both Shaw and Bennett scored when the throw the plate was off the mark.

Fortunately that was all Ta'amilo would need. UCF had runners on first and second with one out in the fourth, but Ta'amilo worked out of the jam with a ground out and a strikeout.

Ta'amilo will be back in the circle today when the Bruins play a doubleheader on day two of the tournament. In fact, I expect Ta'amilo to start in the first against Notre Dame, with sophomore Johanna Grauer pitching the nightcap against Cal Poly. That would allow Ta'amilo the maximum time to rest her arm before tomorrow's early morning clash with #4 LSU. The Bruins close the tournament with a late morning game against Pacific.

The Fighting Irish are not currently in the top-25, but they are receiving votes in the NFCA poll. Cal Poly is unranked.

Neither of Notre Dame's starting pitchers have been impressive in their first few starts of the 2016 season. Allie Rhodes has a 4.46 ERA and a 2-2 record in her four starts, and Caitlyn Brooks has a 5.09 ERA in her three starts. The Fighting Irish have been scoring plenty of runs though as a result of a half dozen home runs and four starters hitting over .400.

Cal Poly relies heavily on the arm and bat of Sierra Hyland. Hyland sports a 3-1 record and a 2.17 ERA while leading the Mustangs with a .524 batting average and two home runs. The Mustangs other hurler--Lindsey Chalmers--is 2-1 with a 3.73 ERA.

Coach Inouye-Perez is still waiting for her team's bats to come to life. UCLA is hitting .280 so far this season, which is nearly 100 points lower than the batting average of the 2015 team. In particular, UCLA's freshmen haven't (yet) replaced the slugging of Carda and LaRosa; as a group, the three freshman starters have combined for an anemic .160 batting average. Although Ta'amilo has been terrific in her first four starts, she and Grauer will need more run support if the Bruins are going to challenge for the conference title this year.

Go BRUINS!