No. 10 UCLA softball (42-13, 16-8 Pac-12) took the final two games of its series against No. 22 Arizona State (30-20, 9-15) to finish off a road sweep.
The Bruins closed out their regular season with a 13-3 win Friday and a 12-3, five-inning victory Saturday.
“Arizona State, they’ve been playing great ball,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “We knew that it was going to be a great test to be able to come in here and play our game and finish out the season knowing that it could impact the seeding going into postseason.”
UCLA was named the No. 5 national seed at Sunday night’s selection show. The team will host the Los Angeles and Oxnard Regional starting Friday. Junior second baseman Kylee Perez said it was very important that the bats were clicking this close to the playoffs.
“In the beginning of the season when they’re not working all together, it can be a little frustrating for us,” Perez said. “I think as we all hit our stride and get ready for postseason, it kind of bleeds throughout the dugout.”
The Bruins amassed 25 runs on 33 hits over the last two games of the series. Perez had a 4-for-4 day at the plate Saturday, with one of those hits being a grand slam in the fifth inning that helped UCLA activate the mercy rule.
“I think that at this point in the season, we know that all the pitchers have been working their butts off all year,” Perez said. “We want to get out there and use our sticks as much as we can so we can end games early, if possible, and give them that break that they need.”
Redshirt freshman Rachel Garcia, who threw a complete game Thursday night, did not pitch Friday and only had to throw five innings to pick up the victory in Saturday’s game.
“Rachel has been my starter on (the first game of the series) and has been the starter on (the last game of the series),” Inouye-Perez said. “If we have the opportunity to get a W (in the middle game of the series) without using her, it’s an outstanding job.”
Inouye-Perez added she gave a lot of credit to junior pitcher Johanna Grauer – who threw 4 1/3 innings and gave up two runs to earn a win in that middle game – for being able to stay sharp despite not having the luxury of a lot of innings pitched.
But Inouye-Perez said even with everything going on in the circle, the offense was the story of the the weekend.
“Offensively, I was really proud of how we were contagious this weekend,” Inouye-Perez said. “There’s a really good, confident vibe within the team of knowing we’re going to be able to hold them on defense and we’re going to come in and throw some serious punches on offense.”