This afternoon, the UCLA softball team will meet the Arizona Wildcats in Game 5 of the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at 4 pm PT. This may be the most interesting matchup of the WCWS because Arizona is the only team to have beaten UCLA twice during the regular season.
Arizona was the only team to really battle the Bruins all season. The first game between them was a battle between Rachel Garcia and Taylor McQuillen. In the end, Garcia had given up four earned runs and five runs total while McQuillen had only allowed three runs.
The second game saw Megan Faraimo get the start, but she also got the quick hook and pitched only 11⁄3 innings before being relieved by Garcia, even though she only gave up one run to the Wildcats. After Garcia gave up a pair of runs with no outs in the third to put the Bruins behind, 3-0, Holly Azevedo finished the inning and pitched the next three before Garcia came back to the circle with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh. While she gave up a run with two outs, it was charged to Azevedo because she gave up the hit to the runner who scored. Garcia managed to get the next batter to ground out to finish the game.
Azevedo started the third game and the Wildcats got to her for three runs in the third inning. Meanwhile, UCLA left six runners on base in one of the most offensively-challenging games they played all season.
The challenge today for the Bruins looks to be simple. Four of their six losses, including that third game against the Wildcats, have come when UCLA was held to just one run. In the Bruins’ other two losses, they were held to three runs while their opponents scored more.
This poses an interesting conundrum for Kelly Inouye-Perez. Arizona was successful at scoring runs off each of the Bruins’ three pitchers. Garcia’s ERA against Arizona this season is a whopping 4.85 while Azevedo’s is still pretty high at 4.20. On the other hand, Faraimo’s ERA against the Wildcats is only 1.50.
So, it would seem that, according to the numbers, Inouye-Perez should probably put Faraimo in the circle this afternoon.
And, in fact, the season stats suggest that Garcia should get today off entirely. That’s because if UCLA beats Arizona, the Bruins will face Washington, Minnesota, Oklahoma State or Oklahoma next and Garcia has a perfect 0.00 ERA against Washington, a 1.00 ERA against Oklahoma, and a 2.00 ERA against Minnesota. The only team of the four possibilities that UCLA hasn’t faced is Oklahoma State. So, saving Garcia for Sunday makes sense.
But what if Arizona wins? Then, the Bruins will face either Florida or Alabama tomorrow. UCLA played two games against Florida at the end of February. Both Garcia and Faraimo had a perfect 0.00 ERA against the Gators, but Garcia threw a complete game shutout while Faraimo only pitched two innings in relief of Azevedo. So, Garcia is the go-to pitcher if UCLA loses today’s game.
So, whether UCLA wins or loses today, having a well-rested Rachel Garcia makes more sense than putting her in the circle today against a team who had her number three weeks ago and it makes more sense to go to Megan Faraimo today because she was clearly UCLA’s best pitcher against Arizona three weeks ago.
Will this happen or will Kelly Inouye-Perez start Garcia again? We’ll know soon enough.
This is your UCLA Bruins vs. Arizona Wildcats Women’s College World Series Game 5 open thread.