Opponent: San Diego State (38-19)
When: Sunday, May 17, 12:00 PM PDT
Where: Easton Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Live Stats: NCAA GameCenter Live Stats | GameTracker | SDSU StatBroadcast
UCLA Resources: UCLA Official Preview | UCLA Media Guide
Los Angeles Regional Resources: Tournament Central
NCAA Resources: NCAA Bracket
It's no ordinary Gameday. It's Regional Championship Sunday Gameday! pic.twitter.com/vbWA9Plfb3— UCLA Softball (@UCLASoftball) May 17, 2015
UCLA takes on San Diego State in the final day of the Los Angeles Regional. The Bruins are undefeated in the double elimination tournament, so UCLA will get a second chance to eliminate the Aztecs if they can't earn a victory in the first game.
UCLA Downs the Longhorns
Ally Carda shut down the Longhorns to lead the Bruins to a 4-1 yesterday. And once again, UCLA relied on long ball to power the offense.
After Carda worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, Stephany LaRosa blasted a two-run homer to left-center, her 17th of the season.
The Bruins' 2-0 lead lasted until the third. Texas plated a single run with a pair of singles and a sacrifice. But the Bruins wasted no time in countering. Leading off the bottom of the third, Delaney Spaulding clubbed her team-leading 18th home run, and the Bruins were back up by two.
Carda grew stronger as the game went on, and she had some terrific support behind her. Gracie Goulder saved a run in the fifth when she dove to smother a ground ball hit between second and first and then rolled the ball to first.
Great offense and defense propel Bruins to Saturday win over Texas. http://t.co/HZChA66HY6 #SCtop10 #12Best pic.twitter.com/Wj3ymi3nQr— UCLA Softball (@UCLASoftball) May 17, 2015
Maddy Jelenicki provided an important insurance run in the sixth when she smacked her eighth homer of the season. It was more than enough for Carda. She blanked the Longhorns in the seventh to secure the 4-1 victory for UCLA.
Carda earned her 28th win of the season with seven innings of five hit ball. Although UCLA only managed six hits, they put three of them over the fence. Allexis Bennett was the only Bruin to reach base twice, and her batting average actually dropped yesterday after going 1 for 2.
Scouting the Aztecs
The Aztecs (38-19) were awarded an NCAA berth after finishing second in the Mountain West conference. After losing to Texas 8-3 in their tournament opener, San Diego State bounced back with two wins yesterday--a 5-4 victory over Cal State Northridge, and a 4-3 win over Texas in nine innings.
Those two elimination game victories have to give the Aztecs a lot of confidence facing another elimination game today, but the wins came at a price. The Aztecs' ace, Erica Romero, worked seven innings in the first game and nine innings in the second game, throwing a total of 235 pitches. Even for a rubber-armed pitcher like Romero, that's a lot of pitches. And that's not even accounting for the fact that Romero threw 121 pitches on Friday.
Even more so than UCLA, San Diego State relies heavily on a single pitcher. Romero has a record of 36-16 this season--only one other Aztec pitcher has a decision this season (Sydney Cable), and she's only pitched 39 innings. Romero's ERA is 3.17, she has a BAA of .292, and she averages a strikeout every two innings. Although Romero has kept the Aztecs in a lot of games this season and collected a lot of wins along the way, she puts a lot of runners on base.
SDSU relies on a pair of .400 hitters to ignite their offense. Senior Lorena Bauer leads the Aztecs with a .416 average, 19 home runs, and 67 RBI. Senior Kayla Jordan isn't the long ball threat that Bauer is, but she sports a .415 batting average, and has nine home runs to go along with her 33 RBI.
The other big threat for the Aztecs is freshman Jenavee Peres. She has nine home runs and 48 RBI to go along with a .352 batting average.
As a team, the Aztecs are batting .312 for the season and averaging a little less than 6 runs per game. Those numbers are similar to Texas, but the Aztecs don't have the pitching strength or depth of the Longhorns.
What to Expect
This is a game that the Bruins should win. SDSU's Erica Romero is used to pitching a lot of innings, but she isn't used to throwing so many pitches over the course of 48 hours. On top of that, Romero allows a lot of baserunners, so the key for the Bruins has to be to avoid giving the Aztecs easy outs--i.e., UCLA has to resist the urge to play small ball.
As I noted above, if the Bruins lose, there will be a second game. That scenario doesn't favor UCLA. Romero is accustomed to pitching heavy innings; Ally Carda isn't. The Bruins don't want to try to win a marathon.
Prediction: UCLA 7, SDSU 4.