The UCLA Bruins Softball team opens the 2018 season today when they host Maryland and Middle Tennessee State in a twilight doubleheader as part of the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament.
The Bruins open the season as the preseason #4 team in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and the #5 team in the USA Today/NFCA poll. UCLA has also been picked to finish second in the Pac-12 this season behind Oregon.
A Look Back
Last season, the Bruins made it to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, but lost to LSU. They beat Texas A&M in an elimination game, 8-2, but lost to Washington, 1-0, and UCLA was eliminated. The Bruins finished three wins away from making the WCWS Finals.
The Bruins have lost three players to graduation. Delaney Spaulding, Gabrielle Maurice and Paige McDuffie all graduated and completed their careers as Bruins. Izzy Ordorica, who was a junior on last year’s team, is not listed on this year’s roster. Kyla Gendler, who was on last year’s roster as a pitcher, is no longer listed as a player. She is now listed as a team manager.
The Bruins have seven freshman on this year’s team. Holly Azevedo from Pioneer HS in San Jose is the lone freshman pitcher. The three freshman infielders are Malia Quarles, Kinsley Washington and Briana Perez, the younger sister of senior infielder Kylee while the team also adds three freshman outfielders. The freshman outfielders are Zia Norris, Julie Rodriguez and Alana Snow.
With UCLA starting the season ranked #4 in the nation, expectations are high. The Bruins should be able to advance to the WCWS again this season. The big question, though, is “Can Kelly Inouye-Perez get the Bruins to the Finals?” After last season, it looks like UCLA is poised to make a run. But, Inouye-Perez’s strategy has been downright baffling at times and it remains to be seen if she can lead the team to another national championship which has eluded her since UCLA won their 11th NCAA title in 2010.