Things began to unravel in the second inning for UCLA on Sunday. Sophomore second baseman Talee Snow’s error on a pop-up followed by freshman pitcher Ally Carda’s illegal pitch created extra opportunities for Arizona, which went on to score in the inning and win 7-6.
As UCLA (35-16, 11-10 Pac-12) enters its final series of the regular season against Oregon (37-14, 11-8), it must figure out how to prevent these mistakes and generate momentum heading into the postseason.
“Our most difficult challenge is ourselves,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “Clearly, if we make plays and don’t give them extra passes, we come out on top.”
This final series against the Ducks is significant for several reasons. For one, the Bruins will have a chance to earn home-field advantage for the upcoming regional round of the NCAA Tournament. UCLA sits right behind No. 12 Oregon in the Pac-12 Conference standings and could leapfrog the Ducks by winning two out of three this weekend.
Playing at home during the regionals could be a huge help for the Bruins, who have played well at home this season.
“Softball is softball. The game doesn’t change wherever you are. But obviously, it’s always cool to be in your home field and have that home advantage,” said redshirt senior outfielder Katie Schroeder.
This series is also important because it provides a perfect opportunity for No. 14 UCLA to get experience playing against tough competition before the postseason.
“In the Pac-12, we know every opponent has the ability to come out and beat you. So it’s a great tune-up for postseason. It’s a gut check,” Inouye-Perez said.
While the series may be good preparation for the Bruins, they aren’t treating the games like practice.
“We come out there and we expect a great game every time no matter who’s in the other dugout, so it should be a great series,” said freshman infielder Stephany LaRosa.
“We’re coming off this weekend against Arizona taking two to one. We have the momentum right now, which is nice, so heading into Oregon, we’re just looking to play our game and stay focused.”
UCLA is hoping that this momentum carries right through this series and into the playoffs.
“Our goal is to get our consistency before we get to the show. That starts the weekend after Oregon. This will provide a great opportunity to get out there and continue to have game experience and being able to find out how we reach deep and win ball games,” Inouye-Perez said.