UCLA softball picked up a win Tuesday, and found a way to do it without Rachel Garcia in the circle.
The redshirt freshman has thrown over 40 percent of the innings for the Bruins this season, and coach Kelly Inouye-Perez called her staff’s ability to give Garcia the night off “huge.”
“As you can see, we’re heavily relying on Rachel, but we do have a staff,” Inouye-Perez said. “It’s outstanding to have different players have her back.”
No. 13 UCLA softball (30-12, 5-7 Pac-12) picked up a midweek 7-3 victory over unranked Cal State Fullerton (23-19, 6-3 Big West) on Tuesday night thanks to seven strong innings from redshirt senior Paige McDuffee, junior Selina Ta’Amilo and junior Johanna Grauer.
McDuffee started in the circle for UCLA, firing 2 2/3 innings before Ta’Amilo came on in relief. Ta’Amilo entered with the bases loaded and induced a fielder’s choice from the first batter she faced.
“I didn’t care about the big strikeout or whatever with the bases loaded, but just getting the out,” Ta’Amilo said. “I just needed to do my job and get a ground ball.”
Ta’Amilo then threw scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth before giving up a single in the top of the seventh. Grauer inherited the runner with one out, and allowed two runs to score before closing out the game with a swinging strikeout.
Sophomore third baseman Brianna Tautalafua led the offensive charge for UCLA, hitting a solo shot to left center field in the third and a three-run homer in the fourth – her 11th and 12th long balls of the season, good for the team lead.
“(The first home run) was on an inside pitch and I kept my hands in and it went,” Tautalafua said. “The second one was inside as well. That one I didn’t quite get everything, but I still managed to push it over.”
Inouye-Perez said that Tautalafua got jammed on the second home run, but that her strength helps her as long as she’s seeing the ball well.
The Bruins scored seven runs in Tuesday’s contest, which is five more than they scored in the teams’ previous matchup in March. That game also occurred before UCLA began playing Pac-12 opponents, whom Inouye Perez said pitch at a whole different level.
UCLA resumes conference play with a three-game home series against California starting Friday.