UCLA softball came into the weekend with hopes of gaining momentum before Pac-12 play. The Bruins left with five straight victories.
“Heading into Pac, I think this gives us a really good confidence boost to really push to play even better than we’re doing right now,” said sophomore first baseman Brianna Tautalafua.
The No. 10 Bruins (21-5) kicked off the Louisville Slugger Invitational with a pair of 8-0 victories against Eastern Michigan (8-9) and Longwood (7-14) on Friday. UCLA activated the mercy rule both games.
Up against the Swoops, the Bruins received contributions across the board – seven players supplying nine hits.
Against the Elwoods, the Bruins’ offense ignited an early lead with seven runs in the first inning. Junior second baseman Kylee Perez went 4-for-4 and eight different players scored a run.
“We all are trying to make little adjustments right now, as it’s preseason,” Perez said. “We’re just getting those little kinks out.”
Perez added that trying to relax at the plate was one of the bigger adjustments UCLA tried to make last weekend.
Over the course of both of Friday’s contests, the Bruins’ pitching staff combined for 10 innings of two-hit ball.
On Saturday, the UCLA played Boston (8-14). The Terriers struck first with an RBI single from sophomore third baseman Alexa Ponce. Down one, UCLA responded with four runs in the third inning – highlighted by a Tautalafua’s home run.
Junior Selina Ta’amilo and redshirt senior Paige McDuffee kept Boston from adding to its first inning run en route to a 6-1 victory.
Saturday’s second game was against host Long Beach State (7-13-1). In a tight contest, Tautalafua’s third home run of the weekend acted as the decisive run in the Bruins’ 1-0 win. The key homer marked Tautalafua’s fourth in her last six games and eighth on the season.
After two innings from Garcia, Grauer finished the remaining five innings to gain her seventh victory on the season.
UCLA returned home Sunday and beat Texas (12-10) 3-2 at Easton Stadium.
Ta’Amilo fired all seven innings, only giving up a pair of runs in the first inning. The Bruins answered with two runs on two singles, a double and a wild pitch in the third before taking lead on a solo shot by freshman third baseman Bubba Nickles in the sixth.
Up next, UCLA starts its quest for a Pac-12 conference title. The Bruins will host a series against Utah starting Friday.
“It’s a great way to finish out the tournament season,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “We’re getting to see different people do what we know they’re capable of. Our pitchers are pitching well, the hitters are always going to battle and come up with great opportunities, and the defense is doing pretty good things.”