For the final homestand of the regular season, UCLA softball will be playing an old-fashioned doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.
Before the Bruins hit the road, No. 17 UCLA (33-17, 8-13 Pac-12) will take on the weak-hitting, nonconference opponent CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (15-32) for a two-game set.
This season, the Roadrunners are only hitting .225 as a team and have six home runs, while averaging 2.3 runs per game. They have lost all five games that they have played against ranked teams this season.
For comparison, the Bruins are hitting .295 as a team with 73 home runs and are averaging 5.6 runs per game. The school also owns a lifetime 3-0 record against CSU Bakersfield.
“I think we just have to stay within ourselves, we can’t just look at the opponent and be like ‘oh’ based on their rankings,” said senior outfielder B.B. Bates. “We just have to go out there and play them as hard as we normally do and just attack.”
After jumping on Loyola Marymount early for six runs in the first two innings in its previous game, the team will look to repeat that type of performance against the Roadrunners.
“I think when we send a message early it definitely sets the tone for the game and gets the opposition a little defensive, so if we continue to do that, I think we’ll be in a good place,” said sophomore pitcher Ally Carda.
After making several errors on Wednesday, the Bruins are looking to shore up their defense to not give away runs when the opponents do end up getting hits.
Bates believes UCLA needs to continue to stay engaged even after getting out to early leads.
“In the middle of the game, we need to lock on even more,” Bates said. “I just think our defense, in the middle of the game, kind of got in that lull moment – we just need to lock on more and come up with plays.”
Staying focused during those lulls out in the field will be important as the team looks to hone the tiny details that are crucial to putting W’s in the win column.
“I think our focus will be the little things that we need to do to keep playing well – attacking early and definitely putting ourselves in a position to go after it,” said assistant coach Kirk Walker.
While the Bruins should easily close up their regular season home schedule with two victories this weekend against the Roadrunners, they need to be cautious of not getting caught playing down to the level of their opponent, with 17 games under .500.
“I think we just need to come out with lots of energy, even if they don’t … we just need to stay consistent with what we do with our routines and having fun in the dugout and it will be good from there,” Carda said.