When senior outfielder B.B. Bates stepped to the plate against Cal State Bakersfield, she wasn’t thinking about how it could be her final time in front of the home crowd.
She didn’t worry that Saturday’s doubleheader could have been her last time stepping into Easton’s batter’s box or her final time standing out in the patch of grass in right field she has called home for the last four years.
Instead, Bates focused on appreciating a moment that has been four years in the making.
“I wanted to be a Bruin when I was little and (I was) just taking it all in and remembering what I did to get here and just having fun today,” Bates said. “I just told myself if I see a strike just go for it. Not go for it as in hitting a home run, but go for it in taking my hack because this is my last time playing at home.”
Bates and the Bruins did just that in both legs of Saturday’s doubleheader sweep of the Roadrunners. Fourteen different Bruins played in Saturday’s two contests, and UCLA outscored the Roadrunners 22-0 en route to winning each game by way of the mercy rule.
It was a weekend of finals for UCLA (35-17, 8-13 Pac-12). Saturday saw the team’s final regular season homestand, and possibly the final home games for Bates and senior outfielder Devon Lindvall, depending on UCLA’s postseason destination. Both seniors made it a memorable Saturday; the UCLA seniors went a combined 7-10, driving in 10 runs.
Several younger players had strong performances as well, but it was Bates who did the heavy lifting, falling just one short of the school record with 7 RBIs in the Game 1 victory. For coach Kelly Inouye-Perez, it was a performance that was vintage Bates.
“She’s been doing this against everybody, to see her in this place tells me (that) she can finish strong and enjoy it with her teammates, which you don’t get to see a lot of seniors do,” said Inouye-Perez. “They’re usually playing with a sense of urgency (but) she’s so not focusing on the lasts of everything, she’s just playing ball.”
It was a complete team performance for the Bruins, as they received 13 hits from 12 different players, in addition to a complete game, five-inning shutout performance from sophomore pitcher Ally Carda.
The UCLA offense picked up right where it left off with an 8-0 Game 2 victory.
Bates knocked her 23rd home run of the year in the first inning for an early 2-0 advantage. Sophomore shortstop Stephany LaRosa followed a Lindvall RBI single with a two-run homer in the second to make it 5-0, before closing things out with a two-run triple in the bottom of the fifth to enact the mercy rule.
In the circle, the Bruins proved just as effective as their offense.
Carda carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning of Game 1, while junior pitcher Jessica Hall went even further, recording her second career no-hitter as she shut down the Roadrunners by striking out five in five innings.
“When I worked ahead was when I was successful,” said Hall. “It’s pretty exciting, I know I didn’t have the best outing, I had a few walks in there that I shouldn’t have, but I have to take the good with the bad.”
With just this week’s season finale against Oregon State left on the regular season schedule, Inouye-Perez believes her squad is peaking at just the right time after Saturday’s doubleheader sweep.
“That’s our goal, to be at our best when it’s time to play at our best and now is the time,” said Inouye-Perez. “The momentum right now, the confidence, (it’s) something that’s definitely going to be a strength for us going into postseason.”