On to the next one.
No. 2 UCLA softball (37-2, 11-1 Pac-12) continues its stretch of conference play this weekend on the road against Oregon State (21-15, 3-10).
“It’s exciting, we’re in a good place right now coming off some really tight games, which is good for us,” said assistant coach Kirk Walker. “Oregon State is a program that has always played scrappy and has always played the top teams competitively, so we have to be prepared to go in and play hard.”
Last weekend, UCLA suffered its first conference loss at the hands of Oregon in the series opener.
Freshman pitcher Megan Faraimo surrendered her second defeat of the season in the 4-3 loss to the Ducks, striking out eight but giving up four runs on six hits in six innings. She was pitching a shutout until the sixth inning, when Oregon put up three runs for the lead.
Faraimo said she’s looking forward to bouncing back and not repeating what happened last time out.
“Personally, I think my last outing was a little rough,” Faraimo said. “I need to do a better job of focusing on every pitch and making sure that I hit my spots because when I didn’t, I kind of let my team down.”
Following the loss, the Bruins got back in the win column, beating the Ducks twice to close out the series.
Sophomore pitcher Holly Azevedo and redshirt junior Rachel Garcia were able to pick Faraimo up, holding Oregon to just four runs for the rest of the series.
Garcia lasted all seven innings in the win in game two and picked up the win in relief in the finale, stretching her record 17-0 on the season. Azevedo turned in four shutout innings and five strikeouts on the weekend.
Senior catcher Paige Halstead said she is always in awe of how the pitching staff is able to support and back up a pitcher either in a tough inning or after a loss.
“It’s an honor to catch for all of the great pitchers that we have,” Halstead said. “We’re all very close-knit and all of them have sweet and genuine personalities which creates a fun and productive atmosphere with no drama.”
When UCLA and Oregon State met a season ago, the Bruins swept the Beavers at Easton Stadium. UCLA kept Oregon State at five runs or fewer in all three games, but each win came by tight margins.
Then-redshirt sophomore Garcia turned in five innings of work in the opener, striking out six and surrendering two runs, one of them unearned. She ended the game on a walk-off home run for the 3-2 victory. The next two games featured then-freshman Azevedo and then-senior Salina Ta’amilo.
Azevedo lasted 6 1/3 innings, followed by Ta’amilo, who earned the save for the 5-3 win in the second game. Then Ta’amilo went the distance in the finale that the Bruins won 7-5.
The sweep of Oregon State started a streak of seven consecutive winning series after the team lost the very first conference series to Oregon.
This year, UCLA has yet to lose a series and has only one loss in the Pac-12.
Walker said in order to win a series, it starts with game one.
“Game one is the day to set the tempo and play our game without any fear of failure,” Walker said. “If we do that and take care of business, then in day two we can go out and try and win the series. Day three is about finishing strong.”