Sunday, October 21

UCLA softball looks to carry long ball into NCAA super regional

Six Bruins hit a combined eight home runs while sweeping Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Fullerton this weekend. (Jintak Han/Daily Bruin)

Six Bruins hit a combined eight home runs while sweeping Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Fullerton this weekend. (Jintak Han/Daily Bruin)

The Bruins scored 14 of their 15 runs via the long ball last weekend.

No. 12 UCLA softball – which finished the regular season as one of the hottest teams in the NCAA – carried its offensive momentum into regional play by outscoring Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Fullerton 15-6 over the course of a three-game sweep.

The offensive effort was well rounded, as six different players combined to hit the team’s eight home runs.

“We don’t want to rely on the long ball, but this team has had an amazing ability to be able to do that,” said UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “The best part about our lineup is that it can come from anyone.”

For opposing pitchers, it becomes even more difficult to throw tough pitches to the middle of the Bruins’ batting order with runners on first and second. Senior outfielder Allexis Bennett and sophomore second baseman Kylee Perez have set the table for UCLA’s three, four and five hitters by batting at or above .400.

Following Bennett and Perez in the lineup are junior shortstop Delaney Spaulding, senior third baseman Mysha Sataraka and sophomore catcher Madeline Jelenicki. The three batters have hit 43 home runs on the year, including five this past weekend.

“They can hit a home run in any count on any pitch,” Bennett said.

UCLA’s power hitters fed off each others’ momentum, as Sataraka followed Spaulding’s three-run homer on Sunday by knocking a solo shot of her own.

“(The energy) is super contagious,” Sataraka said. “When you see that our team is jumping and going crazy … it makes you want to keep it rolling for your team.”

Spaulding also hit a pair of long balls Saturday, marking her third career two-home run game. After getting pitches both inside and outside the plate, her philosophy on Saturday was simple.

“I was swinging at anything close,” Spaulding said. “She happened to throw it a little bit elevated and I got my bat on it.”

Heading into its super regional matchup with No. 5 Oregon next weekend, UCLA will hope to replicate the seven home runs hit during the Bruins’ regular season win against the Ducks.

Email troop at [email protected] or tweet him @b_troop.

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Sports reporter

Troop currently writes on the men's water polo beat. He has been in the Sports section since fall 2015 and previously covered softball and swimming and diving.

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