Jack Kearns, Daily Bruin reporter
The Bruins have had three losses in the month of April – and two of those came from unranked, nonconference opponents.
No. 9 UCLA baseball (26-10) will travel to San Luis Obispo to take on unranked Cal Poly (19-20) in its last nonconference series of the season with the aim to straighten out its 27-man roster for Pac-12 contests.
Coach John Savage made several roster and batting order changes after losing to California on March 31. The Bruins are 10-3 since these adjustments, averaging 10 runs per game and jumping 12 spots in the rankings since April 2.
Savage said he sees this weekend as an opportunity to examine the depth of his full roster to prepare for the four Pac-12 series remaining in the season.
The NCAA restricts the number of scholarship players on a roster to 27 and the total roster to 35. In Pac-12 games, UCLA can play 27 players on the roster, but nonconference games allow all 35 players to play.
This means Savage will have a pool of bullpen pitchers to choose from who are usually not available for conference games. UCLA lost the depth it had just regained against Utah two weeks ago when junior Jon Olsen and redshirt sophomore Kyle Molnar each suffered setbacks to their respective injuries. It is unclear whether they will pitch this weekend.
“We need another significant arm. You don’t know when (Olsen and Molnar) will come back,” Savage said. “We can see some more guys and … we plan on tightening up that 27-man roster for Arizona by looking at more guys this weekend.”
UCLA will face a Cal Poly pitching staff that posts a 5.06 ERA and has allowed more than 10 runs per nine innings.
Senior Jake Bird will throw the first pitch Friday at 6 p.m. Freshman Zach Pettway will start Saturday and sophomore Ryan Garcia will start Sunday.
Marcus Veal, Daily Bruin contributor
After last weekend’s sweep of then-No. 1 Washington, UCLA softball rose to the No. 1 spot in this week’s USA Today poll.
A pair of doubleheaders will serve as the newly minted top team’s first test. The No. 1 Bruins (40-3) will be pitted against the No. 25 Oklahoma State Cowboys (34-14) and the unranked South Dakota Coyotes (15-32).
Oklahoma State averages just over 6 runs per game, and are currently second in the Big 12 Conference behind No. 3 Oklahoma.
“They swing the bat and have done a good job making some noise in that conference,” said assistant coach Kirk Walker. “I expect for them to be coming in here pretty fired up to play against us.”
Cowboy utility Vanessa Shippy leads her team with a .474 batting average. She has scored 61 runs, drawn 48 walks and has an on base percentage of .621 – all currently lead the Big 12.
In the circle, the Cowboys have two pitchers with double-digit wins – Emmie Robertson and Samantha Clakley – as opposed to the Coyotes who have just one pitcher with double-digit wins – Dustie Durham, who has an even 10 wins on the campaign.
The Coyotes enter this week fourth in the Summit League conference.
The Coyotes are led by junior catcher Jessica Rogers. The Lincoln, Nebraska, native has a .347 batting average, 11 home runs and 35 RBIs. She has the most home runs, second-most RBIs and sixth-highest average in the conference.
UCLA’s first doubleheader happens Friday, when they will face Oklahoma State at 4:30 p.m. and South Dakota at 7 p.m. The competition concludes Saturday, with games against Oklahoma State at 2 p.m. and South Dakota at 4:30 p.m.
This will be the Bruins’ second break from playing Pac-12 teams during conference play.
“The (Pac-12) is so strong, but the teams we’re about to play are just as good,” said freshman shortstop Briana Perez. “This weekend gives us a little bit of a break, but not by much.”
Coral Smith, Daily Bruin contributor
The Bruins will face their crosstown rival in their last regular season meet of the year.
No. 12 USC will host UCLA rowing in San Pedro, Los Angeles, on Saturday at their annual dual meet.
In the 16 all-time dual meetings between the two teams, the Bruins have never beaten the Trojans.
Both teams participated in the Clemson Invitational on April 13, where UCLA took 12th place, and USC fifth. The Trojans beat out the Bruins in two out of the three races in which both teams had a boat competing.
Despite the rivalry, coach Amy Fuller Kearney said with the Pac-12 championships just two weeks away, the team is focusing more on preparing for that competition and less on this meet.
“For our program right now and for our movement forward, we need to keep our eyes on that Pac-12 championship so we can be sure we’re ready to go there, because that’s what we want,” Fuller Kearney said.