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UCLA Softball Sweeps Rare Split-Site Doubleheader, Plays Santa Clara Today

The Bruins move to 18-0 with the pair of wins.

Brianna Tautalafua started the day off with a two-run home run in the first inning against Minnesota.
Don Liebig/

It’s been another perfect weekend so far for UCLA Softball. Yesterday, the Bruins improved their record to 18-0. This year’s squad is looking more and more special each day. UCLA is now off to their best start ever under head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez and sixth-best start ever. But these Bruins have a long way to go to have the best start by a Bruin team ever.

I’m not sure which season had the best start ever, but I know that 1999 won 35 games games before finally losing to Washington, 4-1, on April 3, 1999. So, this team needs to double their current win total to pass the 1999 team.

For the record, the winningest Bruin team ever was the 1992 team which went 54-2 on their way to a National Championship and which started with 33 straight wins. It’s obviously way too soon to be talking about that kind of thing, though.

And, let’s face it, at UCLA, it’s really more about how you finish than how you start. What good will it be to have the best start ever if you can’t finish?

The good news is that, yesterday, the Bruins moved two games closer toward their goal of winning a national championship. In the first game, they crushed Minnesota 12-4 in a 6-inning mercy-rule shortened game. In the second, they topped San Diego 8-3.

Against Minnesota, Rachel Garcia (W, 7-0) started and pitched 5 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits with 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. Holly Azevedo pitched the 6th inning and allowed 2 runs on 2 hits.

But the real story of this game was the Bruin bats.

UCLA scored in every inning, but the third. Brianna Tautalafua hit a two-run home run in the first to give the Bruins the lead. They added two more in the second by taking advantage of a wild pitch and a error by the Gophers first baseman. Kylee Perez singled home Kinsley Washington and Briana Perez before scoring herself in the fourth to make it 7-0.

After the Gophers scored two in the top of the fifth, UCLA responded with a two-run double by Briana Perez and it was 9-2 after five. The Gophers came right back and scored two more in the top of the sixth, but the Bruins scored three in the bottom half of the inning on RBIs by Bubba Nickles and Taylor Pack while Nickles would score the game’s final run on a wild pitch to give the Bruins another mercy-rule win.

The team then traveled from San Diego State to the University of San Diego to play their odd split-site nitecap.

Starter Selina Ta’amilo (W, 3-0) allowed one run on six hits and no walks while striking out three in four innings of work for the win in this one.

Again, the Bruin Bashers won this game early. UCLA sent all nine batters to the plate in the second inning as the Bruins took a 5-0 lead. Malia Quarles, Kylee Perez and Aaliyah Jordan all had RBIs and Briana Perez stole home for the fifth run of the inning. Julie Rodriguez had an RBI single in the fifth that drove in Nickles and, then, in the seventh with Nickles on again, she hit a two-run homer to right.

The Toreros mounted a rally in the bottom of the seventh and scored two runs off reliever Johanna Grauer, but Holly Azevedo closed the door by picking up the final two outs.

This morning, UCLA faces Santa Clara which is 2-12 so far this season. The Broncos happen to be the team UCLA has beaten by the biggest margin, 26 runs, when UCLA crushed them 27-1 on February 9, 2008. Given that the Broncos don’t appear to be a very good team, one has to wonder if this morning’s game could break that record.

While UCLA was originally scheduled to play another game this afternoon against San Diego State, the weather forced organizers to shuffle the schedule around and, as a result, that game has been cancelled.

This is your UCLA Bruins vs. Santa Clara Broncos open thread.

Go Bruins!