Senior Ally Carda has thrown two no-hitters in her career, the most recent coming Sunday in Las Vegas as part of a 6-0 win over Boise State. While no-hitters are certainly exciting in the short term, it is unclear whether Carda’s stellar performance will hurt or help UCLA (9-2) in the long term.
Carda pitched more innings than she would have had she allowed a hit or a run earlier at some point in the game. She only stayed in the game to finish her no-hitter. Pitchers who throw no-hitters routinely overextend themselves to do so at all levels of baseball and softball.
“I don’t know what the pitch count was,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “But (Carda) did a great job of mixing all her pitches.”
In UCLA’s 11 games this season, Carda is the only pitcher to have thrown more than 100 pitches in a single outing. She has done it twice, throwing 116 in the no-hitter and 121 in a loss to Texas A&M earlier in the season.
“I don’t want to throw (Carda) every single game this season, but she’s prepared to go,” Inouye-Perez said.
Right now UCLA has three healthy pitchers in the rotation: Carda, and untested freshmen Johanna Grauer and Selina Ta’amilo. The Bruins went a whole weekend without junior Paige McDuffee in the circle due to injury, and following the loss of graduated senior Jessica Hall, the 2014 team’s No. 2 starter, overworking Carda could be more dangerous than ever.
On the other hand, Carda said this no-hitter might have brought the team closer together. Carda gave a lot of credit to her defense following her no-hitter.
“Connecting as a team every pitch on defense, we pride ourselves a lot on that,” Carda said. “I think that has a lot to do with today. We connected really well on defense, and I think that’s going to take us a long way this season.”
The team played errorless and above-average defense all game long for Carda, just one week after errors caused UCLA to give up five unearned runs in a loss to Notre Dame.
“Similar to how the team helped Carda with its defense on Sunday, Carda has started to help out some of the younger pitchers,” said sophomore outfielder Gabrielle Maurice.
“I know (Carda) has been a great asset to the pitchers as far as the freshman class, getting them comfortable and familiar,” said Maurice before the team’s five-game road trip to Nevada.
Inouye-Perez said that these nonconference games place her team in a “unity phase.”
The Bruins travel to Cathedral City Thursday to face Indiana as part of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, the first of three remaining nonconference tournaments. Conference play begins March 13, at which point UCLA will show how preseason events like Carda’s no-hitter have influenced the team.