Correction: The original headline contained an error. The UCLA softball team earned the No. 12.
UCLA softball’s final Pac-12 conference series of the year provided a little bit of everything for the Bruins.
The team burst out of the gates with a 10-0 mercy-rule win at Oregon on Thursday, but the weekend closed with the Bruins asking for mercy from the NCAA Tournament selection committee after dropping the final two games of the series. Knowing the team needed to make a good impression to host an NCAA Regional at home, the Bruins were admittedly disappointed in losing their final series of the year.
But the body of work UCLA provided throughout the year was apparently enough for the selection committee, as the Bruins earned the No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament, announced on ESPNU Sunday night, and the right to host an NCAA Regional at Easton Stadium.
The top-16 seeds in the 64-team tournament get to host an NCAA Regional, the first round of the tournament.
“I’m very hopeful that we’re at home in this first weekend because that’s always a great opportunity, but unfortunately you never know,” coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said on Saturday before the bracket was announced. “We put this in the committee’s hands and when you don’t finish strong in (the) Pac-12 you give them even more opportunity to possibly shift you. … We’re just looking forward to the fact that we get another weekend to play softball and looking forward to playing our best next weekend.”
With an opportunity to secure third place in the Pac-12 conference, the No. 14 Bruins struggled on the road.
UCLA (36-18, 12-12) finished tied for fourth in the conference standings after dropping the final two games to No. 12 Oregon (39-15, 13-9).
The series began with a bang as the Bruins poured in nine runs in the top of the sixth inning Thursday, capped off by redshirt senior designated player Samantha Camuso’s grand slam home run to finish off Oregon in six innings, 10-0. Sophomore pitcher Jessica Hall earned the win with five shutout innings.
Junior outfielder B.B. Bates broke up a no-hit shutout on Friday with a two-out, two-run double in the sixth inning to cut UCLA’s deficit to 3-2, but the Bruins were unable to score again in the loss.
Bates’ two-run homer in the first inning of Saturday’s game gave the Bruins an early lead, but Oregon immediately responded with five runs in the bottom frame and never looked back in the 8-2 win.
“We were on a mission to come out here and finish the weekend on a strong note and came out on Thursday and played great, and then, unfortunately, we just weren’t able to close it out on the weekend, so I think we walk away with a bitter taste in our mouth,” Inouye-Perez said.
UCLA has struggled to finish out the final game of the series this year, having lost six of eight times in the final game of conference series this season.
“It’s definitely something that we can change within one game; we just need to flip a switch,” Camuso said. “Just have everything working at one time. We’ll have some great moments here and there, but we need to find our consistency going into next week.”
When it counts
Having been a part of a championship team in 2010, redshirt senior center fielder Katie Schroeder knows what it takes to win in the postseason.
The lead-off hitter has little doubt in the team’s ability to perform when it needs to.
“Bruins come through when it matters and that’s where we’re headed right now with the postseason, so we couldn’t be more excited,” Schroeder said.
Home sweet home
UCLA will host the Los Angeles Regional May 18-20 at Easton Stadium.
The format is double elimination and only one team will advance to the NCAA Super Regional. In the Los Angeles Regional along with UCLA are Florida State (46-14), San Diego State (30-22) and Hofstra (38-13).