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UCLA Softball Prepares to Skin the Gators

The Bruins hope to take down the nation's top-ranked team this evening when they meet the Florida Gators on Day 2 of the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton.


#7 UCLA Softball (14-3)

Judi Garman Classic

Opponent: #1 Florida (17-1)

When: 7:30 PM PT, Friday, March 3, 2017

Where: Anderson Family Field, Fullerton, CA

Audio: Florida Radio

Video: FloSoftball (subscription required)

Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast

Official Game Preview | Game Notes

UCLA made a fantastic start to the Judi Garman Classic yesterday against the 14th-ranked Wolverines. Today the seventh-ranked Bruins (14-3) face a sterner test when they battle the top-ranked Florida Gators (17-1).

Last night, Johanna Grauer went to the circle to face one of the best lineups in the nation. Unfortunately, she didn't make it out of the second inning. After retiring the first two batters in the second, Grauer had a bout of wildness. She issued a two-out walk, uncorked a wild pitch, and walked the next batter while being called for an illegal pitch which advanced the runner. Coach Inouye-Perez summoned Rachel Garcia to the circle, and Garcia put out the fire with a four-pitch strikeout.

UCLA didn't make any noise at the plate until the third inning. Gabrielle Maurice drew a walk to begin the inning. Zoe Shaw then ripped a double to left-center to bring Maurice home, and Delaney Spaulding followed with a double of her own to drive in Shaw. Although the Bruins stranded Spaulding at second, those two runs would be all that Garcia would need.

Michigan threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff single. The next batter drove a double to center, but UCLA was able to nail the runner at the plate 8-6-5-2.

The Bruins doubled their lead in the bottom half. Paige Halstead drilled a lead off single to left and advanced to second on a fielding error in left. Madeline Jelenicki then slapped a single into right-center to drive in UCLA's third run, and she advanced to second on another fielding error in the outfield. Brianna Tautalafua followed with another single, bringing home Jelenicki with the Bruins' fourth and final run.

Garcia gave up a pair of singles in the seventh but retired the next three batters on ground outs to end Michigan's last attempt at a comeback.

Garcia pitched 5 and a third innings for her seventh win of the season. She finished the contest allowing no runs on five hits while striking out six.

In case their 17-1 record wasn't a good enough clue, the Gators are off to a flying-start in 2017. Florida has it all--solid hitting, power throughout the batting order, excellent fielding, and phenomenally good pitching. I can't emphasize enough how good Florida's pitching has been through its first 18 games; at the start of the day, Florida's team ERA is 0.50, and Kelly Barnhill, the Gators' ace, has a microscopic 0.16 ERA and is striking out batters at a rate of two per inning. Delanie Gourley is no slouch either; she sports a 0.66 ERA and has struck out over half the batters she's faced. Florida's opponents are hitting just .132 against the Gator hurlers.

After struggling against a couple of particularly tough pitching staffs last week (Oklahoma and Florida State), the Bruins have to find some of the clutch hitting that propelled the team last year. UCLA has the pitching to be very good this season. With a bit of timely hitting added to the mix, the Bruins have the potential to be great.