Opponents were blown out at the UCLA-hosted NCAA regional.
No. 5 UCLA softball (45-13) launched 10 home runs beyond Easton Stadium’s walls, activating the mercy rule twice in three games.
The Bruins outscored their adversaries – Lehigh, San Jose State and Cal State Fullerton – 27-3.
“It’s a credit to our offense being able to come out and put up the amount of runs to give us that option,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “Any time we have that opportunity, we’d love to do that.”
UCLA’s ability to score in bundles with the long ball provided crucial mercy rule activations. The Bruins triggered the mercy rule twice, giving UCLA advantageous rest time. Put into perspective, every other game at the Los Angeles Regional went the full seven innings.
“Any time you can shorten up the game and get the W, I think it’s always a great thing especially at this point of the season,” Inouye-Perez said. “We like to limit how many times that we’re out there.”
Five different players contributed to UCLA’s home run total, and three enjoyed multi-homer weekends.
The powerful trio included the usual suspects – senior shortstop Delaney Spaulding, junior first baseman Madeline Jelenicki and sophomore third baseman Brianna Tautalafua – who lead the squad in deep shots this season with 16, 15 and 16 respectively.
The Bruins’ outright power is seen as the obvious key; however, the team members consistently credit their long ball success to gathering info from each other at bat.
Spaulding and junior second baseman Kylee Perez, who sit at the top of the lineup, offer insights to the rest of the lineup.
“She (Spaulding) does a great job of coming back and sharing what she sees,” said Jelenicki. “She does a great job of being patient so we see a lot of pitches right away with her.”
Jelenicki and Tautalafua utilized their positions in the lineup to blast home runs in every game this weekend.
“Being able to hit behind Delaney and Kylee, it allows me to see a lot more pitches before my at-bat,” said Tautalafua. “That really helps me (with) seeing what the pitcher’s throwing.”
The peak of the home run splurge came after redshirt freshman pitcher Rachel Garcia got out of a bases-loaded jam against Fullerton. The Bruins stepped up and loaded their own bases when Tautalafua launched the ball for a grand slam.
“The game came down to two scenarios … (Brianna) came up with a big kind of swing and separated that gap,” Inouye-Perez said.
Tautalafua’s grand slam blast cemented the Bruins’ trip to the NCAA Super Regionals.
One obstacle remains between UCLA and its third straight Women’s College World Series – the Super Regionals against No. 12 Ole Miss.
The Bruins will host the best-out-of-three series beginning Thursday. Game two will take place Friday, and game three, if necessary, will be held Saturday.