#12 UCLA Softball (39-12, 13-7)
Opponent: #3 Arizona (47-7, 17-6)
When: 1:00 PM PT, Sunday, May 7, 2017
Where: Easton Stadium. Los Angeles, CA
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
It's Senior Day!!! Join us in honoring Gabrielle Maurice, Paige McDuffee and Delaney Spaulding at 12:40 p.m. First pitch today is at 1 p.m. pic.twitter.com/kK9z107gr3— UCLA Softball (@UCLASoftball) May 7, 2017
The Bruins didn't dominate the Wildcats yesterday as they had in the series' opener on Friday, but the final score wasn't much different. Although UCLA managed just three hits, Selina Ta'amilo and Rachel Garcia combined to shut out Arizona, and the Bruins relied on timely slugging to post a 6-0 win.
The victory pushed the Bruins' winning streak to 10 games and, more importantly, inched UCLA ahead of Washington in the Pac-12 standings and into a third-place tie with Utah. The Bruins are now just one game behind second-place Oregon and two and a half games behind Arizona.
Today is the Wildcats' final Pac-12 game of 2017, so a UCLA win would give the Bruins the possibility of claiming a share of the Pac-12 title if they sweep Arizona State in their final series of the season.
Furthermore, having already wrapped up the series win against #3 Arizona, UCLA seems set to move back into the NFCA Coaches Poll top-10, especially in light of #7 Washington's loss to Stanford yesterday and a pair of defeats for #10 Utah this weekend. The Bruins may not have started the season well, but they're certainly looking strong in the homestretch.
According to Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, "the key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers." That's the blueprint that the Bruins used against the Wildcats in game 2 and it worked to perfection.
After Selina Ta'amilo retired the Wildcats in the top of the first, the Bruins gave her all the run support she would need in the bottom half. Kylee Perez drew a one-out walk, Brianna Tautalafua singled through the left side, and Madeline Jelenicki followed with a three-run blast to right, her twelfth home run of the season.
Although Ta'amilo allowed a base runner in each inning, Arizona never seriously threatened to get back into the contest. When Rachel Garcia replaced Ta'amilo with one out in the fifth, UCLA was still holding onto a 3-0 lead.
That changed in the bottom of the fifth. Zoe Shaw led off with a base on balls, and Delaney Spaulding got on base due to a throwing error by the Wildcats' third baseman. Kylee Perez followed with a 2-RBI double to right, and after advancing to third on Tautalafua's ground out, she scored on Jelenicki's sacrifice fly to left. One hit and three runs later, UCLA was up 6-0.
Perez doubles high off the wall in right to score two. 5-0 Bruins, B5. pic.twitter.com/adU6hpa0Gw— UCLA Softball (@UCLASoftball) May 7, 2017
A six run cushion was more than enough for Garcia. She struck out five batters over her final two innings of work to close out the victory. Ta'amilo was credited with the win to run her record to 13-0. Madeline Jelenicki drove in four runs to add to her team-leading total of 56 RBI. Kylee Perez went 1-1 to lift her batting average back over .400.
Two days, two shutouts for Bruin hurlers, two games gained on the Wildcats. Coach Inouye-Perez couldn't have scripted a better start to Senior Weekend. But there's the possibility for more this afternoon, so a loss today would somewhat diminish the accomplishments of the weekend.
Today is the last regular season home game for seniors Delaney Spaulding, Gabrielle Maurice, and Paige McDuffee. A series sweep would be a great way to celebrate the accomplishments of these three terrific student-athletes.