UCLA Softball is Peaking at the Right Time
A dominant regionals performance speaks to the talent the roster possesses.
I know what you’re thinking - “An article that isn’t about football and basketball? What is going on over there?” - but we’re getting near the end of the sports calendar and it is once again time to recognize the UCLA softball team and how good they’re playing.
If you were looking at the final stretch of the season, I don’t know if I would have necessarily said that UCLA softball is peaking. Sure, they entered the postseason after completing a sweep of UC Berkeley, but prior to that they’d lost three out of four games, including two of three on the road to Arizona State which gave the Sun Devils the Pac-12 title. Prior to the UC Berkeley series, the offense had only scored more than three runs once since the end of April, and the pitching staff, which has for years been the calling card of the program, was starting to look shaky.
But that UC Berkeley series represented the Bruins rounding into form. The Bruins scored at least five runs in every game of the series while holding the Golden Bears to four runs total all weekend. They took that momentum into the Los Angeles regional, where they posted the following scores:
12-1 (run rule)
9-1 (run rule)
That’s pretty impressive, especially since the other teams in the regional were not exactly pushovers. Grand Canyon, who the Bruins beat on Friday, had won the WAC while Loyola Marymount had won the WCC. Ole Miss had put on an impressive season with series wins over Missouri, Tennessee, and Georgia. None of these games should have been easy.
Yet the Bruins turned the entire regional into one long showcase.
The Bruin offense was unbelievable throughout the regional, putting up a five-run inning in each game. Senior third baseman Delanie Wisz rightly won UCLA student-athlete of the week honors after her eight-run, 5-9 performance, but other Bruins like Kinsley Washington, Brianna Perez, and Maya Brady got in on the action as well. The defense was exceptional, outside of a few uncharacteristic errors from Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Perez.
And the pitching. The Bruins only allowed three runs in the entire regional, with each opponent only managing one run apiece. Holly Azevado, who has emerged this season after sitting in the background the past few years, only allowed three hits against Grand Rapids before carrying a no-hitter deep into the regional final against Ole Miss, finally giving it up with two outs in the fifth. Not to be outdone, Megan Faraimo tossed a four-hit complete game against Loyola Marymount, shutting down the Lions offense until the UCLA bats would finally wake up in the 6th inning.
There is such a thing as peaking at the right time, and UCLA appears to be doing that. They will host a Super Regional against Duke this weekend, which works well for the Bruins - they’ve only lost one game at home all season. And with some of the other top teams like Florida State, Alabama, and Tennessee already eliminated, the road to another softball title gets a little easier (of course, Oklahoma is still lurking, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there).
The most important thing is that the UCLA softball team is doing what they historically do this time of the year: win.