The UCLA softball team will face the 3-seed Washington Huskies today in the semifinals of the Women’s College World Series. One thing is certain: the teams will meet at 10 am PT in Game 11 of the WCWS. The outcome of this morning’s game will determine what happens next. A Bruin win means that UCLA advances to the Championship Series of the WCWS. A Husky win means that the teams will meet again at approximately 4 pm PT following the conclusion of Game 12 between Oklahoma and Alabama.
Some Bruin fans might feel a sense of déjà vu because the Bruins have advanced to Semifinal Sunday for the second year in a row. But there are in fact some very big differences compared to last season. Last year, the weather on Semifinal Sunday was brutal in Oklahoma City. The heat certainly played a factor in tiring Rachel Garcia, who was asked to start two games against the Florida State Seminoles.
The weather looks to be at least a little cooler this year. But, the big difference will be the fact that the Bruins will not be playing back-to-back games should they lose the first game.
Another big difference is that UCLA is playing a team they’ve already played — and beaten — three times this season. The Bruins went into Seattle and swept the Huskies on their home field.
In those games, Garcia pitched 12 scoreless innings. She held them to just eight hits and three walks in those games. She clearly had the Huskies number. If she can do the same thing this morning, the Bruins won’t have to worry about a second game.
Now, it still might not be a bad idea to pitch Garcia as little as possible in the first game, but the fact is that neither Megan Faraimo nor Holly Azevedo pitched well against them when the teams met in March. Faraimo’s ERA was 5.25. She gave up three earned runs over four innings pitched. Azevedo wasn’t any better with a 7.00 ERA against Washington. She gave up four earned runs in four innings pitched.
It just doesn’t seem like anyone but Garcia should pitch today. But, it seemed like anyone but Garcia should pitch against Arizona on Friday and she was able to hold them. So, maybe, Kelly Inouye-Perez should hold Garcia back for Game 13, after all. I’m not as convinced of this this year as I was last year. We’ll see soon enough.
This is your Women’s College World Series Semifinal Sunday open thread.