The original photo caption with this article contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information.
Although a collegiate athletic career lasts only four years, Bruin alumni say the experience lasts a lifetime.
“We have all gone our separate ways, but we share this one thing in common,” said UCLA Hall of Famer Stacey Nuveman Deniz at last weekend’s Softball Alumni game.
That “one thing” Nuveman Deniz is referring to is the game of softball, which brought back more than a dozen former Bruins this past weekend for an alumni match.
Former and current UCLA softball players duked it out in various events on the field while the youngest generation of aspiring Bruins, who attended an on-campus clinic prior to the game, watched from the stands.
The enthusiasm was high despite the 90-degree fall heat, and Easton Stadium was fully packed for the day’s festivities.
The current UCLA softball team started the day’s events with an inter-squad scrimmage. The game had a lighthearted feel to it, as opposed to the intense atmosphere that fills the field during regular season games.
The Bruins cheered for their teammates despite the fact they were temporarily pitted against each other. The scrimmage was highlighted by sophomore infielder Stephany LaRosa’s home run, which brought in two runs.
The next event was a home run derby with the current players competing against alumni. The contest consisted of each player attempting to hit as many home runs as they could, with each failed attempt counting as a strike. And although the competition was much more low-pressure than a Pac-12 conference game, that does not mean that the current Bruins weren’t trying to win.
“You come out here and you’re playing against the people who came before you and set that legacy. You definitely have more nerves,” LaRosa said.
The derby’s standout performance came from freshman infielder Mysha Sataraka, who hit six home runs to bring the current Bruins to 7-1 in the contest. LaRosa was close behind, closing the derby with five home runs to end the match 12-3.
The derby was a great opportunity for current and former UCLA softball players, who may have never met before, to share the field and the passion they have for the sport.
“The alumni are very welcoming. They are a big part of our Bruin family. It was like we were playing against our family for fun,” Sataraka said.
Following the home run derby, the alumni battled on the field for their slow pitch, three inning match. While the alumni’s talent was obvious, the scrimmage was all fun and games, with players laughing off the occasional off-the-mark throw.
After three innings, the alumni did not want the game to end. Some took the field after their scrimmage to slow pitch to each other, for a little extra dose of nostalgia.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to wear this jersey with UCLA across your chest,” Nuveman Deniz said. “You’ll cherish this experience forever.”
As current players watched their older counterparts returning to the game they love, they couldn’t help but think that might be them one day.
“You look at all of them and you know all of their legacies and you only hope to live up to what they expect of us,” Sataraka said.
Correction: Shana Stewart played in the Alumni Game at Easton Stadium. Stewart played for the Bruins until 2007.