UCLA coach John Savage called it the pink elephant in the room.
Offensive struggles have been an issue for the No. 8 Bruins for much of the season, and Savage said it is no secret in the clubhouse.
“Don’t talk about it. It’s one of those things where it’s the pink elephant sometimes, and you talk and you talk … they know that,” Savage said. “There are maybe three really good offensive clubs (in the country) and then after that who knows? We are probably one of the teams outside of those three, but we’re in the mix.”
After a strong performance at the plate in a sweep of Arizona, UCLA is ready to tackle more elephants in the room. The Bruins will face the No. 4 Cal State Fullerton Titans, whose mascot is an elephant, on the road today.
UCLA (34-14) lost to its Southern California counterparts, 9-6, earlier this season, with freshman starter Cody Poteet unable to hold on to an early lead.
“Fullerton is as good as there is out there in the country. If they’re not the best team, I haven’t seen them, so we’re going to have our hands full,” Savage said.
The Titans (41-8) had their seven-game win streak snapped on Sunday, but they come in as the leaders of the Big West Conference. After losing their previous matchup at Jackie Robinson, the Bruins will look to return the favor on the road.
“They came in here and they beat us on that Tuesday. They’re our rival so it’s always a little extra (motivation) playing them and it will be fun,” said junior shortstop Pat Valaika.
Valaika was a part of the team’s offensive revival over the weekend, hitting his team-leading fifth home run on Sunday. In total, the Bruins collected 11 extra-base hits over the weekend while reaching double digits in scoring twice.
Sophomore first baseman Chris Keck got in on the fun on offense, hitting his first career home run in Sunday’s 12-5 win. Keck also legged out the first triple of his career, finishing 2-for-3 with a career-high four runs batted in.
Following Fullerton, UCLA will go on the road for important Pac-12 conference series against USC and Stanford. But for now, the Titans are the only elephants the Bruins are focused on.
“It’s going to be a really competitive game. They’re a really good team and our bats are finally starting to warm up so I think Tuesday’s going to be a really good challenge for us,” Keck said.