Junior left fielder and first baseman Andrea Harrison of the UCLA softball team changed her jersey number from No. 8 to 18 heading into this weekend’s series against Oregon State.
Last week, the Bruins learned that senior shortstop and Andrea’s older sister Monica Harrison, who had been hoping to play late in the season after being sidelined with an undisclosed injury, would be out for the entire season.
Monica Harrison has worn No. 18 throughout her career at UCLA, and Andrea changed to the number in honor of her older sister.
The younger Harrison responded by going 8-for-9 with six runs batted in over the weekend, ending the series with a walk-off grand slam to end Sunday’s game by mercy rule.
“Every time I go out there I try to get a hit for (Monica), I try to make plays for her, just knowing that she wants to be on the field so badly,” Andrea Harrison said. “I keep telling my teammates that this jersey has a lot of hits in it left because it’s been hanging in the locker room for so long.”
With the aid of Harrison’s strong performance at the plate, the No. 7 Bruins (26-5, 3-0 Pac-10) swept the Beavers (16-11, 0-3) in the season’s first series of conference play. The Beavers entered the weekend having won nine straight games.
In Friday’s game, it appeared as though the Beavers’ momentum would carry over into Easton Stadium when they jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. However, the Bruins responded with five runs of their own in the bottom of the second and ended up winning 6-2.
Saturday was more of the same, with the Beavers leading 1-0 early, before the Bruins came back to win their 10th mercy-rule game of the season, 9-1.
UCLA came out of the dugout strong on Sunday, scoring in each of the first three innings and leading 5-0 by the beginning of the fourth inning before eventually winning 12-2 in the fifth on Harrison’s grand slam.
Junior pitcher Aleah Macon (1-0), who had been sidelined earlier in the season with an upper-body injury, looked sharp over the weekend and pitched five and one-thirds scoreless innings in relief.
“(Macon) looks great. I’m so happy that she’s back and starting to get into the swing of things,” redshirt junior center fielder Katie Schroeder said. “(Freshman Jessica) Hall is working hard and so is (senior) Donna Kerr, obviously. (Sophomore) Destiny Rodino is back, too, so now we have four pitchers, which makes a world of a difference.”
Kerr (10-1) picked up the wins on Friday and Sunday, while Hall (14-4) earned the win on Saturday.
UCLA’s superior defense was clearly apparent over the weekend, and one of the deciding factors in the series sweep. Over the three games, UCLA recorded just one error compared to four by Oregon State.
Highlighting the Bruins’ defensive performance was a catch by sophomore left fielder Devon Lindvall in the sixth inning of Friday night’s game. With a line-drive fly ball heading fast into deep left field, Lindvall, in a full sprint, made a full-extension, diving catch in foul territory for the out.
“Defense is ultimately what wins championships,” coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “As the (opposing) pitching gets better, you’re not going to always be able to get double-digit hits, so it’s really going to come down to your ability to top the opponent.”
The Bruins will next make up a rained-out game against Loyola Marymount University Wednesday at Easton Stadium before resuming conference play on Friday at home against Stanford.