Today, the #2 UCLA softball team concludes the UCLA/Long Beach Invitational with a doubleheader against the Boston University Terriers and co-host Long Beach State 49ers.
Last Time Out
Yesterday, the Bruins played a doubleheader against the BYU Cougars and the Liberty Flames. In the first game, Bruins head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez offered an unusally early in the season lack of strategy by starting Rachel Garcia against the clearly inferior Cougars, rather than holding her back for the second game against a higher quality opponent. In the preview I wrote yesterday, I mentioned that she would probably do that if this were the WCWS, but, then, she went and did exactly what she shouldn’t have done.
Why? Because in game two, the game came down to the Bruins’ final at-bat and UCLA could have used a fully-rested Garcia in the first 21⁄3 innings of the second game, instead of having to bring in a relief pitcher who had already thrown seven innings earlier in the day. It’s the same kind of poor management of the pitching staff that cost the Bruins a national championship last season.
As it was, the Bruins won the game against BYU, 8-2. Garcia allowed two runs and just one earned run on five hits and a walk while striking out 12 for her eighth win of the season.
Garcia gave up a second inning home run as BYU took an early 1-0 lead, but UCLA responded in the bottom of the third when Bubba Nickles hit a solo homer to tie the game and Aaliyah Jordan scored on a double to right center by Colleen Sullivan.
BYU tied it up 2-2 in the top of the fifth, but UCLA came right back in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Jordan started the Bruins’ rally with a single up the middle. Garcia also singled up the middle, giving UCLA runners on first and second. Brianna Tautalafua scored Jordan with an RBI single to center which also moved Anna Vines, who was pinch-running for Garcia, over to third. After Alana Snow pinch-ran for Tautalafua, Zoe Shaw tripled to center which scored both Vines and Snow. Kinsley Washington got on due to an error which scored Shaw and then Taylor Pack homered to give the Bruins an 8-2 lead and that’s how the game ended.
In the second game, Holly Azevedo started for UCLA, but she was lifted by Inouye-Perez after 21⁄3 innings. She gave up two runs and one earned run on four hits and a walk. Garcia relieved and pitched the final 42⁄3 innings, giving up just one run on three hits and no walks with 11 strikeouts.
The Bruins got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first in this game. Briana Perez laid down a bunt for a single, but she was thrown out on a fielder’s choice that Nickles hit, giving UCLA a runner on first with one out. Jordan doubled down the right field line scoring Nickles and the Bruins were ahead 1-0.
Liberty came back in the top of the third when the Flames scored a pair of runs to take a 2-1 lead and they added an insurance run in the fourth when they made it 3-1.
The Bruins responded in the bottom of the fourth when Garcia doubled to lead off the inning. Pack then hit a single to center which scored Garcia as UCLA cut the Flames lead in half, 3-2. Nickles tied the game with a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth and it stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh.
After Nickles led off by grounding out to second, Jordan doubled to left center to give the Bruins the winning run in scoring position. Garcia came to the plate and double to right center, scoring Jordan and winning the game for UCLA.
Boston University Terriers
The Terriers are 11-6 so far this season and they’ve won three of four so far this weekend. Despite that, they have lost all three games that they’ve played against ranked teams so far this year, losing once to the Tennessee Volunteers and twice to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
If I have to guess, I’d say UCLA will win this one, but it will take a full game to do it.
Long Beach State 49ers
The 49ers have struggled so far this season. They are just 8-13 on the year. Long Beach has lost three of the four games they’ve played this weekend. As a side note, it’s interesting to see that Long Beach’s website calls it the Louisville Slugger Invitational while UCLA’s site is calling it the UCLA/Long Beach State Invitational. I can only guess that’s being done due to Easton’s sponsorship of UCLA.
Whatever you call it, it doesn’t change the fact that UCLA should be able to win today’s second game easily and the Bruins should probably be able to shorten this game with the mercy rule.
This is your UCLA/Long Beach State/Louisville Slugger Invitational doubleheader open thread.