CHECKING OUT WHAT IS ARGUABLY THE MOST SUCCESSFUL OF ALL BRUIN SPORTS
Anytime I get a chance to see a college softball game featuring my alma mater, I make sure to not pass it up.
Particularly since I have a long history of being involved with softball – I’ve been pickup games on the weekends for over twenty years – as when Easton Stadium on the northwest tip of UCLA’s campus was first renovated in 1994, I was part of the coaching staff at Santa Monica College.
That February we were invited by the Bruins to play a scrimmage, which makes me part of the very first opponents to play the iconic UCLA program at the new ballpark.
That memory has always been prevalent in my mind whenever I visited that place, and this past Saturday was no exception as I did my duties with the UCLA Alumni Band for the Bruins’ game with California.
As was the case at Dodger Stadium nearly two months before when UCLA’s and USC’s baseball teams clashed, I kept score while playing fight songs and other tunes on my tenor saxophone every half inning.
Which kept me quite busy as the game moved at a fast pace, par for the course in fast pitch softball.
I made a point to get to Easton early as one of my favorite parts of being at a baseball or softball game is watching the teams take batting practice, which the Bruins did not disappoint in that area, either.
Easton Stadium is an intimate place, seating just over 1,500, which is good because as with all stadiums that size, every seat is a good one; I & the Alumni Band sat in the farthest seats on the left side, which was behind the UCLA dugout by third base.
Several pictures and displays celebrating the program’s NCAA-leading 12 national championships are spread out under the stands from third base to first base, offering a lesson on a UCLA softball tradition that rivals their men’s basketball brothers.
As For The Game Itself…
It drew a good crowd that was enthused, particularly over the free softballs that members of the UCLA Yell Crew threw into the stands after every strikeout.
Lots of young girls from places such as El Segundo and Montebello, wearing gear from their youth teams, dotted the place as they watched their heroes on the diamond.
It was quite exciting as the Bruins won a close one, 3-1, highlighted by two things that stood out for me:
* The bottom two hitters in the batting order, left fielder Gabrielle Maurice and right fielder Zoe Shaw, had four of UCLA’s six hits, Shaw going 3-for-3 and driving in two of their three runs while Maurice had the game’s only extra base hit, a double in the 4th inning,
* Rachel Garcia, a freshman pitcher who I was most impressed with as in the game’s key moment, she stepped into the pitcher’s circle with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 6th inning and proceeded to completely shut the Cal Bears down, striking out two of Cal’s batters, electrifying the crowd and her teammates after the last Bear batter went down.
She then got the save an inning later.
All-in-all, it was a fun game as everyone enjoyed themselves, the Alumni Band playing a few post game tunes for the handful of fans lingering in the stands before calling it a night of adding some essential spice to an already fun atmosphere.
If you’re into softball at all, though it may sound a bit biased with me being a UCLA alum I highly recommend seeing a game at Easton Stadium.
It’s a fun time and you – and your child if she’s a softball player – won’t be disappointed.
Highlights from the UCLA game in which I had to pleasure to attend on Saturday, the Bruins’ 3-1 win over Cal. Courtesy of YouTube.