Tuesday, June 18

UCLA softball aims to maintain perfect season in weekend tournament

Junior utility Zoe Shaw will help bolster a potent Bruin lineup this weekend as UCLA tries to remain undefeated. (Jenna-Nicole Smith/Daily Bruin)

Junior utility Zoe Shaw will help bolster a potent Bruin lineup this weekend as UCLA tries to remain undefeated. (Jenna-Nicole Smith/Daily Bruin)

No. 3 UCLA softball is undefeated after its first 10 games for the first time since 2014. That season it went on to win its first 17.

The Bruins have an opportunity to keep their season perfect when they travel to the second Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, California, this weekend.

Unlike their first two weekends of play, though, this weekend features UCLA’s first ranked opponent – No. 7 LSU. It will also face Nebraska, Liberty, Missouri and Fresno State.

“We got the ball rolling last weekend and a lot of us feel like we’re all playing as a unit,” said senior infielder Kylee Perez. “We’re having a lot of fun and we’re excited to challenge ourselves this weekend.”

LSU (12-0) is off to a perfect start in its season as well, including eight shutouts.

There are three players hitting at and north of .400 in LSU’s starting lineup. Infielder Amanda Doyle leads the team with a .429 average, infielder Amber Serrett has an average of .417 and outfielder Aliyah Andrews has hit an even .400.

In UCLA’s lineup, four players have been batting above .400. Redshirt freshman outfielder Aaliyah Jordan is batting .560 – the highest on the team. Freshman infielder Briana Perez and sophomore utility Bubba Nickles are both sitting at an even .500 and Kylee Perez is sitting at .414.

LSU is a team that UCLA is very familiar with. Last year, the Bruins topped the Tigers in extra innings in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic II, though, in the NCAA Women’s College World Series, the Tigers came out on top to beat the Bruins in the opening round of the tournament.

“Obviously, a lot of our players played against their older players and we’ve seen them consistently over the last few years,” said assistant coach Kirk Walker. “We don’t know who exactly is healthy and who’s not, but we’ll figure that out when we get out there.”

Like UCLA, LSU will face its first ranked opponent Saturday when the two teams meet in the Bruins’ third game of the classic.

The Bruins will open the weekend with a doubleheader Friday against Nebraska (9-2) and Liberty (9-1).

Nebraska’s most notable games are wins against BYU and No. 24 Utah. Its two losses on the season came from No. 17 Arizona State and Boston College.

Liberty has put up four shutouts on the year and has outscored its opponents 56-19.

Another doubleheader Sunday will conclude this weekend’s competition.

The first game will be against Missouri (7-6), who has not been able to find early success against ranked opponents. No. 5 Oregon and No. 18 Oklahoma State both defeated Missouri in the early games of the season.

UCLA’s last game of the weekend will be against Fresno State (7-3). Fresno State is another team who has struggled against ranked opponents, losing to Oregon and No. 13 Arizona.

The Big League Dreams Sports Park in Cathedral City, the field where both Mary Nutter Collegiate Classics have been held, is only slightly different than Easton Stadium, according to junior utility Zoe Shaw, who has primarily played right field this season.

The Big League Dreams Sports Park is a field UCLA has played on dating back to 2007.

“The nice thing about that complex is that it has become almost like a second home field for us,” Walker said. “We know that it’s going to be an exciting atmosphere like last week, so (this weekend is) just a great opportunity to get tested and challenged at the next level.”

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Sports staff

Veal is currently a Sports staff writer for the softball and women's water polo beats. He was previously a reporter for the cross country and men's soccer beats.

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