Last weekend, the UCLA softball team won all five of their games to stretch their winning streak to six games. Meanwhile, the Florida State Seminoles lost a game to Grand Canyon University on Wednesday and another to Arizona on Saturday. As a result, the Bruins are now the #1 team in the country in all three polls.
This weekend, UCLA puts that ranking on the line when the team visits the #5 Washington Huskies. The first game of the series is tonight at 7 pm PT.
Last Time Out
On Sunday, the Bruins played a doubleheader against Boston University and Long Beach State. In the first game, UCLA defeated BU, 12-0. Despite the score, the Bruins didn’t use the mercy rule to win this game. Megan Faraimo threw a complete game shut-out while allowing just five hits and a walk while striking out four.
While this game went a full seven innings, it was over on the fourth pitch when Briana Perez homered down the right field line, giving UCLA a 1-0 lead. Bubba Nickles followed and singled to left. She moved over to third on Aaliyah Jordan’s double to left center and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brianna Tautalafua.
The score remained 2-0 until the top of the fourth inning when Perez hit a two-run single up the middle that scored Danae Blodgett, who was pinch-running for Colleen Sullivan, and Kelli Godin. Two batters later, Perez scored too on a RBI double to center by Jordan as the Bruins took a 5-0 lead.
UCLA tacked on one more in the sixth when Nickles grounded to short, but scored Kinsley Washington from third. Unfortunately, the Bruins couldn’t score their other two baserunners which would have triggered the mercy rule. Instead, it was 6-0, UCLA.
In the seventh, the Bruins used five singles and two walks to score six more runs to end the game with a 12-0 win.
In second game, starter Holly Azevedo gave up a three-run homer in the bottom of the first that put Long Beach State ahead early.
The Bruins responded in the second with a solo shot by Taylor Pack that cut the lead to 3-1. Then, in the top of the third, Jordan doubled to right to score Godin and Nickles to tie the game 3-3.
Now, with the game tied, Kelly Inouye-Perez brought Rachel Garcia in to pitch the fourth and she shut down the 49ers for the rest of the game, allowing just two hits while striking out seven for her tenth win of the year.
As good as Garcia’s pitching was, the UCLA bats were cold. From the fourth to the seventh inning, the Bruins only managed to get four runners on and only two of them actually had hits.
That sent the game into extra innings and each team started their half of the inning with a runner on second. Garcia led off with an infield single that gave UCLA runners on first and second with no outs. Anna Vines pinch-ran for Garcia and Zoe Shaw laid down a sacrifice bunt towards third to move the runners up with one out. Malia Quarles then pinch-hit for Tautalafua and Quarles, who’s hitting .364 this season, doubled down the left field line, scoring Jordan and Vines. That proved to be enough as Garcia didn’t allow a baserunner other than the runner who started on second.
The #5 Huskies won their season opener and lost their second game of the season to Notre Dame. Since then, Washington has only lost two more times in consecutive games a few weeks ago at the Judi Garman Classic at Cal State Fullerton when they played the Florida Gators and Michigan Wolverines.
Like the Bruins, Washington played a challenging non-conference slate with seven games against teams in the Top 25.
This series looks like a toss-up. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to the team with the better pitching and that should be the Bruins. But, even that could be a toss-up. Washington’s team ERA is 1.17 while UCLA’s is 1.08.
The Bruins do have a significant edge in batting average, however. UCLA’s team batting average is .353 while the Huskies is .289. The Bruins are also more proficient at run production. UCLA is averaging 7.34 runs per game while Washington is averagin 4.36.
That said, I think the Bruins take two out of three this weekend since it’s an away series.
This is your UCLA vs. Washington softball game one open thread.