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#4 UCLA Softball Looks to Get Back on Track Against #24 Oregon State at Home

The Bruins lost two in a row last weekend to Oregon on the road.

Rachel Garcia pitched 6-1/3 innings of shutout ball, but a three-run homer cost UCLA the rubber game against Oregon last weekend.

While the UCLA Bruins started the season winning their first 25 games, they are now in the midst of a two-game losing streak as they dropped the second and third games of last weekend’s series against the Oregon Ducks.

Those losses caused UCLA to fall to fourth in this week’s polls, which have three of the top four teams in the Pac-12 Conference.

On Sunday, the Bruins played the Ducks in the rubber game of their three-game series and it was a good ol’ fashioned pitchers’ dual. Rachel Garcia and Ducks’ starter Megan Kleist both threw six innings of shutout ball and the teams went into the seventh tied with no score.

In the top of the seventh, the Bruins threatened by getting runners on second and third with two outs when Bruins coach Kelly Inouye-Perez sent Jelly Felix in to pinch-hit for Kinsley Washington. Unfortunately, Felix grounded out to the pitcher to end the Bruins’ threat.

In the bottom of the inning, with one out and runners on second and third, Garcia gave up a three-run walk-off homer to Oregon centerfielder Shannon Rhodes and the Ducks picked up a 3-0 win.

The good news for the Bruins is that they are returning home for this weekend’s series against the #24 Oregon State Beavers. In a quirk of the schedule, this weekend’s series will be played tonight, tomorrow night and Monday afternoon, rather than the usual Friday, Saturday and Sunday that teams usually play. This is likely due to the end of Winter Finals and the fact that Monday is part of Spring Break.

Despite the fact that the Beavs are ranked 24th in the nation, they are currently tied for third in the Pac-12 one-half game back of conference leaders Arizona and Arizona State while the Bruins are a game behind Oregon State in sixth place.

On paper at least, UCLA should be able to pull off a sweep, given that the Beavers are only batting .277 compared to UCLA’s .385 team batting average. Oregon State does, however, have five batters who are hitting better than .300 including freshman Hope Brandner, who leads the team with a .316 batting average, seven homers and 19 RBI, and junior Shelby Weeks, who is second on the team with a .311 batting average. Missy Nunes is second on the team behind Brander with four home runs.

The Beavers’ top pitcher is junior Meehra Nelson (10-4, 2.78 ERA). Nelson has struck out 69 batters in 74 2/3 innings while freshman Mariah Mazon (8-6, 2.58 ERA), the Beavers’ second best pitcher, has struck out 68 in 86 2/3 innings,

Unfortunately, there’s no tv or live stream for this weekend’s games, but there will be streaming audio and, of course, live stats.

Tonight’s and tomorrow’s games will both begin at 6 pm PT while Monday’s matinee will start at 1 pm PT.

This is your UCLA Bruins vs. Oregon State Beavers Game 1 softball open thread.

Go Bruins!!!