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UCLA’s softball team rejoicing as they welcome one of their players after hitting a home run during a recent game. Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com

 

CHECKING OUT ONE OF COLLEGE SOFTBALL’S PREMIER PROGRAMS AS IT COMMENCES WITH PLAYING IN THEIR 28TH WOMEN’S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES – AND WILL TRY TO WIN THEIR 13TH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.

 

UCLA SOFTBALL – 2016 AT A GLANCE

Record:  40-14-1 overall, 17-5 and second place in the Pac-12 Conference

  • Beat Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Fullerton (twice) in the Los Angeles Regional at Easton Stadium on the UCLA Campus
  • Beat fifth-ranked and Pac-12 Champion Oregon in a best-of-three Super Regional in Eugene, OR, two games to one, winning the last two contests by identical 2-1 scores.

Coach:  Kelly Inouye-Perez (10th year)

Women’s College World Series:  This will be the Bruins’ 28th appearance in the WCWS, played at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK.  They are seeded 12th.

Their first opponent will be Auburn on Thursday, June 2nd at 11:30 a.m. (PT)

Key Players and Pitchers:

(Note: * = led team)

  • Alexis Bennett, Sr. CF – ,412* (Pac-12 batting champion for the 2nd straight year), 73 hits*, 12 stolen bases*
  • Kylee Perez, Soph. 2B – .383, 4 HR, 35 RBI
  • Madeline Jelenicki, Soph. C – .313, 13 HR, 50 RBI
  • Delaney Spaulding, Jr. SS – .345, 17 HR*, 61 RBI*
  • Mysha Satarake, Sr. 3B – .374, 13 HR, 52 RBI
  • Selina Ta’amilo, Soph. P: 19-5, 3.39 ERA, 120 strikeouts*
  • Johanna Grauer, Soph. P: 15-8, 3.88 ERA (pitched no-hitter against Cal State Bakersfield in L.A. Regional)
  • Paige McDuffie, Jr. P: 6-1, 3.12 ERA

 

 

A precursor of things to come: highlights of the Bruins’ win over Oregon in Eugene on April 1st

 

 

Some Thoughts…

I usually don’t list as many key players when looking at a team as I did for this one.

But it was warranted in this case due to the fact that perhaps more than any of the other standout softball teams that my alma mater has fielded over the past four decades, this UCLA team was the definition of the word “team” , overcoming a stretch which saw them lose seven of 11 games in February and early March to earn their 28th trip to the late-spring classic.

Their resilience especially showed in the Super Regional against favored Oregon when in game two,

Down to their last two outs,

And in the Ducks’ house no less, with all of their green and yellow-clad fans screaming,

Gabrielle Maurice quieted the place, tying the game with a home run and sending it into extra innings, where the Bruins eventually won it.

And Maurice wasn’t finished with her Wonder Woman-like antics in the winner-take-all game three match, breaking the Ducks’ hearts again with a spectacular catch in left field – with the tying run on second – to end the game and spark the celebrating, essentially becoming to the Ducks’ fan base what the Dodgers’ Chase Utley is to the New York Mets’ fans.

It’s fairly safe to say that this UCLA team did Bruin Nation proud.

As for how I see their chances in the Women’s College World Series…

With no clear-cut favorite among the eight teams that will be in Oklahoma City, these Bruin softballers have just as good a chance as any to win their 13th title – and the school’s nation-leading 114th.

It will all depend on their pitching, whether or not they can keep the good execution that they experienced against Oregon going.

Actually, what with UCLA not expected to be in the WCWS and being a second lowest 12th seed, they need to have a mindset of…

“We have nothing to lose!”

Because they really don’t, as they are playing with house money.

This will be one of those Women’s College World Series where the team hoisting the big plaque at the end will not necessarily be the best of the eight teams, but the team that performs and executes the best.

Hopefully that team will be UCLA.

 

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The Bruin softball team getting ready for one of their regional games against Cal State Fullerton in Westwood. Photo courtesy of dailybruin.com

 

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