Amid the glitz and glamour of the Vegas Strip, senior outfielder B.B. Bates and the No. 18 UCLA softball team put on a show of their own in the Easton Desert Classic.
UCLA scored early and often in all five of its wins, outscoring its opponents 48 to 8 over the weekend. Four of the victories were ended by mercy rule, including an impressive 11-1 win over No. 23 Hawai’i.
The Bruins’ power at the plate was on full display this weekend, as they sent 20 home runs over the fence, with Bates notching eight of them.
Bates was in the zone all weekend, going 12 for 17 with 8 home runs and 19 RBIs, homering in all five games. Her biggest hit of the weekend came in the top of the sixth in the Bruins’ second game, versus San Jose State. With the score tied 4-4 and the bases loaded with one out, Bates crushed a ball for a grand slam, putting the Bruins up 8-4 and effectively putting the game away.
“My mindset was just pretty much to get a base hit. The count was high and I just stayed relaxed,” Bates said. “It feels good. I’m relaxed up there, having fun. It feels really good (to deliver in the clutch).”
Bates, who started the weekend off with three consecutive multi-homer games, wasn’t the only Bruin who was feeling it, as UCLA’s offense was hotter than the desert sun. The Bruins knocked 51 hits while driving in 48 runs, with seven different players hitting homers.
“Everyone did a great job of getting on and coming through in key situations,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “A lot of people stepped forward and contributed. … They did a great job of working together as a team.”
UCLA’s game versus San Jose State was the only one in which it trailed. Entering the sixth inning down 4-2, UCLA’s first three batters were able to draw walks before senior outfielder Devon Lindvall hit an RBI single. Another walk by freshman outfielder Allexis Bennett a batter later tied the score at 4 all, and Bates’ grand slam put UCLA up 8-4 to cap the comeback. For Inouye-Perez, the come-from-behind victory was the most impressive win of the weekend.
“Being able to pull together late in the ball game after getting some punches thrown at them is what I’m most proud of, this team is really building that character, that ability to fight,” Inouye-Perez said.
The Bruins also had it going in the circle, with the highlight performance coming from freshman Paige McDuffee. In her second collegiate start, the freshman from Texas went five innings, striking out 6 while allowing no hits in a 9-0 victory over Seattle University on Saturday.
“I’m feeling pretty good. It’s exciting,” McDuffee said. “It was hard not pitching for so long. I was out my senior year of high school, to come back after all this time, it’s exciting for me to be out there again.”
UCLA finished up the tournament on Sunday with a pair of victories, defeating Louisiana-Monroe 9-1 before taking down Ohio 11-2, both in six innings. With both sides of the ball working so well, Inouye-Perez came away impressed with what she has seen out of her team so far this season, praising the team’s chemistry.
“We have great team chemistry going, … the energy is great,” she said. “Everyone’s fully involved and that allows for excitement. The chemistry is great. It’s all rubbing off. This team is building some very good character, … they’re really fun to watch right now.”