#1 UCLA Softball Opens 2021 Season Against Fresno State Today
The Bruins ended last season ranked #1 and they start today in the same spot.
The UCLA Bruins softball team begins the 2021 season right where they were when the 2020 season was abruptly ended — as the number one team in the nation.
Today, the Bruins open the season against the Fresno State Bulldogs at home at 2 pm PT. While the game isn’t on TV, it will be streamed on Pac-12.com.
Since it’s the first game of the season, let’s take a look at this year’s squad.
Amazingly, no one is gone. Every member of the team who was on the roster last season is back for another year. If any of them were a quarterback from a team across town, they might even be inclined to say they have “unfinished business.”
In years past, I’ve certainly been inclined to question the in-game strategy of head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez, but I have to give her credit for bringing back everyone from last season while also adding four new freshmen. Even her entire coaching staff returns.
If no one is gone, that means that, quite literally, everyone is back. At top of that list, however, is Rachel Garcia. The Bruins’ star pitcher had planned to redshirt last season to prepare to play for the USA Softball Olympic Team at the Tokyo Olympics. There’s no reason the year off should affect her ability to dominate the game.
Bubba Nickles also redshirted last year and is now back, too.
So, those are two huge additions to last year’s squad even though both players have been big contributors in the past.
UCLA has four freshmen on this year’s roster. Three of them are listed as outfielders and one is an infielder. The infielder is Thessa Malau'ulu, who will add a lefty bat to the lineup. Malau'ulu comes to the Bruins from St. Anthony’s in Long Beach.
The three freshman outfielders are Grace Guzman, Lauryn Carter and Carson Armijo. It remains to be seen how much playing time this trio will see this season considering the team lost no one from last season and Bubba Nickles is back.
Fresno State Bulldogs
The Bruins’ opponent today is the Fresno State Bulldogs. Last season, the Bulldogs almost certainly would have made the NCAA Tournament. They were 21-4 when the season was cancelled. That said, their four losses came against teams which were either ranked or receiving votes. They lost to #7 Florida, #17 Michigan, RV Stanford and #2 Washington. Their signature win of the season came at the Judy Garman Classic in Fullerton where they beat the #3 Texas Longhorns, 4-3.
Like the Bruins, they return their entire team from last season. So, today’s game won’t be easy, but I still expect the Bruiins to win this afternoon’s game.
#1 UCLA Softball (0-0)
Opponent: Fresno State Bulldogs (0-0)
When: 2:00 pm PT, Friday, February 12, 2021
Where: Easton Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Live Stream: Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
Official Game Preview