For UCLA softball’s senior outfielder Devon Lindvall, this weekend’s matchup against No. 4 Oregon will not be just a showdown against the top team in the Pac-12 conference.
It will be a showdown against her little sister, Janelle Lindvall, a freshman catcher for the Ducks.
“This has just been something I’ve been looking forward to the entire year,” Devon Lindvall said. “She’s been doing so well, I’m really proud of her. I hope she does well, but we better take it to the Ducks.”
With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Oregon (38-6, 13-2 Pac-12) is the toughest opponent that No. 16 UCLA (31-15, 7-11) has left on its schedule.
“We’re at the end of the season, so we’re competing. We’re really going to focus on playing our best ball. We’ve been playing great for the last two weekends,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “It’s just ‘continue to stay as sharp as you can so you can be at your best at the end.’”
Oregon is an offensive powerhouse that will require UCLA’s best on the defensive end and in the circle. A lot of that load will fall on the team’s workhorse, sophomore pitcher Ally Carda, who is 20-8 with a 2.23 ERA and 178 strikeouts on the year.
“My defense, hopefully, is going to have my back. I know they will,” Carda said. “I’m just going to try and get ahead in the count and mix all levels of my pitches … and just try and keep them off balance and then my defense I know will have my back.”
Carda should not have to worry about her defense having her back, as they have a .981 fielding percentage on the season.
“Like we say here, ‘defense wins championships,’” Lindvall said. “We can’t make any errors and we better give it to them.”
If the Ducks do start scoring runs, however, the Bruins will have to match them, an aspect of the game they struggled with earlier in the season before improving markedly in the last two weekends of Pac-12 play.
“I think we rise to the occasion a lot, so I don’t think that will be a problem to find the energy and hopefully keep stringing some hits together, like we are,” said junior pitcher Jessica Hall.
A series win would help the Bruins as they try to prove that their early struggles in Pac-12 play were not indicative of their actual capabilities and that their recent success is the real deal.
“If we can win this series, it definitely shows that all those beginning series were kind of a fluke, and we just kind of got in our own heads and nobody actually got us,” Hall said.