Today, 6 p.m.
No TV info
Info: The Michigan State Spartans and the UCLA Bruins play today before UCLA begins the Long Beach State Invitational.
After the barrage of plane rides, car trips and reset watches that come with the series of invitationals and tournaments that take place all over the United States to start the college softball season, the Bruins are ready to settle down in the place they know best.
The No. 16 UCLA softball team will have a break from travel with tonight’s home game at Easton Stadium. It will face unranked Michigan State.
“It’s always awesome to come back home, to see your parents in their normal seats, to see your real loyal fans who always have the team’s back,” said senior outfielder Andrea Harrison. “This is where we do all our work, this is where we get better, this is where we struggle.”
After 10 undefeated games to start the season, then a crash-and-burn sort of weekend at the Cathedral City Classic, the Bruins had an even-keeled performance in Florida this weekend, going 3-2 in the Citrus Classic, a sign that they may have settled into a groove.
Several key offensive moves came from freshman infielder Stephany LaRosa, who has already been a standout for the team, coming in the top two in almost every offensive category and having a standout weekend. For her, there has not been a significant adjustment to make in the college game, and it shows.
“It’s the same game I’ve always played,” LaRosa said. “Just a different name across the front of the uniform. It’s about going out there and having fun. … I’m just enjoying the time I do have because I hear it goes fast.”
The Bruins have downplayed the negative effects of traveling, trying to focus mainly on the positives, but the chance to play a game at their home stadium is not one they take lightly.
“Any time you play at your home field is a great chance: our home, our fans. Any time you play where you practice is an advantage … there’s a lot of positives to being at home,” coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said.
And the Bruins’ focus in practice has been an unchanging tune ““ they continue to focus on their defensive capabilities. When things have gone wrong in games, it has been a defensive breakdown.
“The game tests you … but it’s how you respond and how you pick up your game, and that’s what defines us as a team,” Inouye-Perez said.
The Bruin spirit, a part of the softball culture that has been emphasized throughout the season by players and coaches alike, is what has brought the team together and enabled it to stay in the top 20 so far.
“As a freshman, I’ve never felt more at home, everyone is very welcoming, about the culture of the team,” LaRosa said. “When you feel welcome, you feel like a unit, like a team.”