The Women’s College World Series is down to just four teams. UCLA and Washington punched their semifinals ticket on Friday by winning their second games.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma defeated both Arizona State and Florida yesterday to advance to a rematch against the Washington Huskies and Florida State beat Georgia 7-2 and top-seeded Oregon 4-1 to earn a rematch of Thursday night’s game against the Bruins.
The good news about today is that the Bruins only need to win one game to advance to the Championship Series while Florida State will have to beat the Bruins twice to send UCLA home.
Only one other team has beaten the Bruins twice this season. That was the Oregon Ducks who did it in Eugene. Without the benefit of a home crowd, I don’t think the Seminoles will be able to beat UCLA twice today.
I would be very surprised if either team doesn’t start the same pitchers as Thursday night. At the same time, it is possible that FSU Coach Lonni Alameda could start Megan King. The reason is pretty simple: King gives up fewer home runs.
So far, this season Hanson and King are almost identical statistically. Their ERAs are 1.19 and 1.27, respectively. Their opponent’s batting average is 0.149 and 0.185, respectively. The two differences are that King has only given up 5 home runs to Hanson’s 12 while Hanson has struck out 239 batters to King’s 169.
Either way, look for today to be all about the pitching. Of course, UCLA will almost certainly start Rachel Garcia in both games, if two are necessary, because Garcia has pitched better than UCLA’s other pitchers all season long.
After all, if Bruins head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez didn’t make a pitching change on Friday when Garcia gave up three homers, it’s unlikely she will go a different direction today. Although, considering that UCLA has played primarily at night so far in Oklahoma City, the smart move might be to start Holly Azevedo in the first game to help Rachel Garcia conserve some energy for the second game if it becomes necessary.
The game time temperature in OKC looks to be a toasty 85 degrees and, while that’s not as hot as it was a few days ago, it’s still pretty darn warm and I might consider starting Azevedo and having a quick hook if she gets into trouble.
Regardless of who’s on the mound for UCLA, I’m looking for the Bruin bats to carry the team to victory. So far in the first two games this weekend, Kylee Perez, Taylor Pack and Bubba Nickles have all hit clutch home runs. Today, I’m expecting some more clutch hitting from UCLA’s big bashers like Aaliyah Jordan, Madeline Jelenicki and Brianna Tautalafua.
Go Bruins!!! Bring home 117!!!