HawaiiToday, 6 p.m.
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The motto for Las Vegas is “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” but the UCLA softball team does not want that motto to apply to its experience there this weekend.
The Bruins are traveling to Nevada for their first road trip of the season and they hope that the bonds they form and strengthen there make it on the bus back home with them.
“We’re going to have a lot of time that we’re going to spend together on the road and I think it’s a great thing for team chemistry,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez.
“I think we’ll walk away from this weekend with a great experience on the field and also better cohesion off the field.”
For the freshmen on the team, this will be their first road trip in a UCLA uniform, which can be a nerve-racking experience. But they have the helping hands of the upperclassmen to guide them along the way.
“We have a checklist that the seniors made,” said freshman catcher/infielder Brittany Moeai. “They pretty much set it all down for us. We just (get) to be the freshmen and play our part and do what we’re supposed to do.”
When the Bruins arrive in Nevada, they will travel between Henderson, Nev. and Las Vegas over the span of three days to take on five teams; Ohio, Hawai’i, San Jose State, Seattle University and Louisiana-Monroe.
In order to be successful on the trip, Inouye-Perez said the players will have to be mentally tough, even if they do not feel 100 percent physically.
“You may not feel as rested as you are when you’re at home (sleeping) in your own bed, but you still got to get out there and compete,” Inouye-Perez said. “We’ll walk away learning a lot more about ourselves and I believe we’ll be tougher for it.”
After this road trip, the Bruins will come back to Easton Stadium for an exhibition game against the Toyota women’s softball team from Japan. All except one of their subsequent games until mid-March will be on the road.
“(The key will be) just staying on top of everything, (and) not letting school stress you out on top of it,” said junior pitcher Jessica Hall.
“(It’s important to take) care of your (body), (do) whatever you need to do to just feel your best, … let all your practices and what you put in at the beginning of the year take over and not worry about getting extra (practice) in.”
The Bruins will use this tough portion of their schedule to bond as a team and to test their mettle in foreign ballparks.
“It’s a grind at this part of the season because we are traveling (and playing) five games in a weekend, and sometimes (a game) midweek,” Inouye-Perez said. “It’s a mental challenge and I look forward to seeing what we learn about ourselves when we get on the road.”
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