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UCLA Softball Gets Its First Big Test against #22 Notre Dame

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The Bruins made it look easy yesterday as they exploded for 26 runs while sweeping a twinbill against Weber State. The task will be tougher today, though, as UCLA faces the 22nd-ranked Fighting Irish on the final day of the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament.

@UCLASoftball

#8 UCLA Softball (4-0)

Opponent: #22 Notre Dame (3-1)

When: 9:00 AM PT, Sunday, February 12, 2017

Where: Easton Stadium, Los Angeles, CA

Audio: Bruin Live Audio

Video: None

Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast

Official Tournament Preview

Day 2 of the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament was much like Day 1: the Bruins were firing on all cylinders and finished the day with another pair of wins. The victim on Saturday was Weber State.

Junior Selina Ta'amilo went the distance in game 1, striking out seven and scattering seven hits over seven innings to lead UCLA to a 4-1 victory. The big hit of the contest was Bubba Nickles two-run blast in the fifth--her first collegiate home run--which gave Ta'amilo a four-run lead heading into the final two frames. Ta'amilo finally conceded a run in the seventh, which was the first run allowed by the Bruins' pitching staff in the first 20 innings of the season.

Delaney Spaulding seems to be enjoying her role as UCLA's leadoff hitter in 2017. She rapped three more hits in the opener, including an RBI double that broke the scoreless deadlock in the bottom of the third.

Johanna Grauer was back in the circle for the nightcap. Although she conceded a run in the first inning on a two-out home run to left, Grauer settled in, striking out 10 while going the distance for her second win of the season.

For what it's worth, Weber State's 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the first of the nightcap marked the first time the Bruins had trailed so far this season. However, the Wildcats lead was short-lived. Spaulding knotted the game at 1-all when she led off the bottom of the first with a deep drive over the fence in centerfield. It was her second home run of the young season.

But that was just the start of the Bruins' offensive explosion. Before the inning was over, UCLA had pushed another six runs across the plate. The big hit of the inning was Gabrielle Maurice's grand slam. It was her second homer of 2017.

Things went from bad to worse for the Wildcats from there. UCLA added eight more runs in the second, and another seven in the third. There was a three-run blast by Brianna Tautalafua, a two-run homer by Nickles, another shot by Tautalafua, and a grand slam by Madeline Jelenicki. The Bruins' power surge produced 22 runs in all, which was more than enough for Grauer to wrap up a mercy rule five inning 22-1 win.

At the end of the day, five of the Bruins' starters were sporting batting averages of .500 or better: Spaulding (.778), Perez (.650), Rachel Garcia (.583), Nickles (.538), and Tautalafua (.500).

Not to be forgotten among the day's achievements was walk-on Stevie Wisz' first career hit as a Bruin.

Sunday is the final day of the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament. The Bruins opponent is #22 Notre Dame (3-1)--the first of more than a dozen ranked teams on UCLA's 2017 schedule. Today's contest is the first big test of the season for the Bruins. UCLA's hurlers have looked pretty dominant against weaker competition, but the Fighting Irish lineup will be a stiffer challenge. Likewise, the Bruins' hitters have battered opposing pitchers for 13 home runs and 40 runs through 4 games, but Notre Dame's pitching staff has an impressive 1.42 ERA, so today will clearly be a step up in level of competition for the Bruins.

UCLA has made a fantastic start to the 2017 campaign. Today's game against the Fighting Irish will be the first opportunity for the Bruins to show that they can compete with the best in the nation.

Go BRUINS!