As the softball team entered last weekend’s series against Oregon, UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez preached the importance of winning the series to generate momentum heading into the postseason.
After dropping two out of those three games, however, the Bruins have changed their tune, and have found some positives in their defeat.
“We didn’t get the wins in Oregon, but we did have some good moments there and we had to come together late in that game,” redshirt senior infielder Samantha Camuso said.
“I think that coming together and just hitting that adversity is only going to help us further on. It hasn’t been a clean season. A lot of ups and downs, but I think that’ll only help us.”
The Bruins are sure to face more adversity throughout the postseason, which starts today as UCLA faces Hofstra (38-13) to begin the double-elimination NCAA Regionals tournament. UCLA (36-18, 12-12 Pac-12) will play either Florida State or San Diego State on Saturday. But the Bruins are stressing the importance of not looking ahead to the next game.
“We can’t look ahead and say, “˜What are we going to do Saturday or Sunday or at supers?’” senior utility Andrea Harrison said.
“That’s how we’re going to win games. It’s one pitch at a time, just focusing on Hofstra.”
Inouye-Perez further emphasized the necessity of concentrating on each game individually.
“This is a time where you don’t focus on the past, you can’t really get excited about the future, you’ve got to play in the moment and that’s something that’s a big part of our program. As Coach Wooden said, “˜You’ve got to create a masterpiece today,’” Inouye-Perez said.
Postseason play always comes with pressure, but No. 12 UCLA seems to be handling the pressure well, mainly by ignoring it.
“Pressure is if you’re worried about failing,” Inouye-Perez said. “If you focus on what could be, then you get really excited about the opportunity.”
Despite not having the momentum they wanted, the Bruins are clearly coming into the weekend prepared and full of confidence.
“In the end, if we play every game as if it’s our last and we get everyone to buy into that, then there’s no team that can beat us, because we have the sticks, we have the pitching, we have the moments of greatness and our team knows how to pull it together. It’s just that we need to do it in those moments,” Harrison said.