#9 UCLA Softball (27-9, 3-4)
Opponent: #2 Oregon (35-1, 8-1)
When: 7:00 PM PT, Saturday, April 8, 2017
Where: Easton Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Video: Pac-12 Networks
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
Regular season wins are rarely more satisfying than UCLA's 2-0 victory over Oregon yesterday. Not only did the Bruins hand the Ducks their first loss of the 2017 season, they also terminated Oregon's record-tying season-opening 35-game winning streak and gained a valuable game in the standings against the league leaders while beating the nation's second-ranked team. It was easily UCLA's best win of the 2017 campaign so far.
As has frequently been the case recently, Rachel Garcia was central to the Bruins' success yesterday. She pitched a gem, going the distance while limiting the Ducks' dangerous lineup to just five hits. The shutout earned Garcia her team-leading 11th win of the 2017 season.
Garcia also scored the Bruins' first run after singling in the second inning and coming home on Zoe Shaw's two-out RBI single.
Madeline Jelenicki doubled UCLA's lead in the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff home run that struck the foul pole in left. It was Jelenicki's ninth four-bagger of the season and her team-leading 37th RBI of 2017.
Highlights of the action are courtesy of the Pac-12 Network:
Madeline Jelenicki's blast earned her selection for the postgame interview:
It was a tremendously important victory for UCLA in terms of the Pac-12 title race, but all of the Bruins' gain can disappear quickly if they don't follow it up with at least one more win over the Ducks this weekend. As things now stand, the Bruins are in fifth-place, with Arizona, Oregon, Utah and Washington ahead of them. Importantly, the Bruins remain five and a half games out of first, which means that there's a lot of work to be done over the course of the next few weeks.
After last weekend's pitching problems in Washington, the concern for Coach Inouye-Perez has to be which of her other hurlers can keep the Ducks in check. I suspect that Coach KIP will turn to Johanna Grauer today, but the talk this week about using Bubba Nickles in the circle suggests that UCLA's coaching staff is considering all of its options.
One day after snapping Oregon's 35-game winning streak, the Bruins would love nothing more than extending Oregon's losing streak. UCLA has confidence and momentum heading into game 2 of the weekend series, but the Bruins need at least one more victory over the Ducks to make this a successful weekend.