This weekend is the weekend Bruin softball fans have been waiting for as #3 UCLA hosts the #1 Washington Huskies in a three-game series, starting tonight.
It means that this weekend’s series isn’t just a battle to see who will be in first place in the Pac-12 after this weekend. It’s also a battle to see which team will be ranked #1 in the country as well.
Looking back at UCLA’s last game, the Bruins broke out their brooms again to sweep another conference opponent with a 10-3 win over the Arizona Wildcats on Sunday evening.
Much like the game the night before, UCLA relied on Rachel Garcia to hit and pitch the team to the win. It started in the top of the first when Garcia hit a three-run home run to give the Bruins the early lead.
But, Bruin starter Selina Ta’amilo gave up a run in the first and a two-run homer in the second to tie the game up. That got Kelly Inouye-Perez to head to the pen for Garcia, who threw 41⁄3 scoreless innings, striking out nine, allowing just two hits and walking none, to pick up her 13th win of the season.
In the top of the third, Aaliyah Jordan hit an RBI double that score Briana Perez, which would be the game-winning run. Then, Brianna Tautalafua drove in Kylee Perez as insurance. That hit loaded the bases. So, when Bubba Nickles drew a walk, it forced in Jordan and UCLA led 6-3.
The Bruins would also add insurance runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings including a solo home run by Kylee Perez in the sixth as UCLA completed the sweep, 10-3.
Turning to this weekend’s opponents, the Huskies have played about as well as the Bruins. Washington is 41-2 on the season overall and 12-2 in conference play. Their only losses came against Arizona State on the road.
The Huskies are batting .335 as a team, but they have five players on the team batting .350 or better. Sophomore Sis Bates leads the team with a .407 batting average while senior Kirstyn Thomas is batting .406.
Washington also seems to like the long ball as they have hit 49 homers as a team. Thomas and Julia DePonte are tied for the team lead in home runs with 11 while Thomas also leads the team with 48 RBIs.
The Huskies will rely primarily on two pitchers to get them through the weekend. Junior Taran Alvelo is 21-1 with a 0.74 ERA and freshman Gabbie Plain is 13-1 with a 0.73 ERA.
The stands will be packed as all three games are basically sold out. However, UCLA does hold back a small amount of tickets for walk-up sales. The Easton Stadium ticket office opens 21⁄2 hours before game time. So, if you’re planning on heading out and don’t have tickets yet, you will want to get there early.
But, if you don’t have tickets and don’t want to get there early to find some, all three games are televised this weekend. Tonight’s and Sunday’s games will air on Pac-12 National, Los Angeles and Washington while tomorrow’s game is on ESPN2.
Will these three games be pitching duels or slugfests? That remains to be seen, but this weekend’s games should be three tough ones.
This is your UCLA Bruins vs. Washington Huskies softball game 1 open thread.