This post was updated on May 17 at 11:15 a.m.
The Bruins’ postseason begins this weekend.
No. 2 seed UCLA softball (46-5, 20-4 Pac-12) will host Weber State (26-19, 14-2 Big Sky) on Friday night to begin the Los Angeles regional of the NCAA tournament. This will be the Bruins’ 21st consecutive postseason appearance.
Weber State has already played five games against Pac-12 opponents this season, going 3-2 with two wins over Utah and one over Stanford.
Rounding out the rest of the regional are Missouri (32-23, 12-12 SEC) and Cal State Fullerton (38-16, 18-3 Big West), which will also be playing each other Friday.
While this will be the first time that UCLA and Weber State will play this season, the Bruins faced both of the other two competitors earlier this season.
UCLA faced Missouri during nonconference play in February, taking down the Tigers in a six-inning run-rule victory by a score of 11-3. UCLA played Cal State Fullerton later in March, taking home a 5-1 win against the Titans.
Sophomore shortstop Briana Perez said that while there is sometimes a benefit to having played a team before – like having seen its pitching – the long season makes repeat opponents feel new.
“It’s funny because a lot of us kind of laugh at it because we don’t even remember those games,” Perez said. “They were so long ago and we’ve played so many games since then that it’s fresh.”
UCLA will have a chance to head to its fifth straight Women’s College World Series and claim the program’s first national title since 2010. The Bruins advanced all the way to the semifinals in last year’s championship, but fell to eventual champions Florida State in consecutive games.
Sophomore second baseman Kinsley Washington said this year’s team has a strong chance to make it to the end because of its depth, especially from the freshmen – led by pitcher Megan Faraimo and left fielder Kelli Godin.
Faraimo has gone 15-3 this season, throwing two no-hitters and accumulating a 1.31 ERA, while Godin is coming into the playoffs with a .426 batting average – good for first on the team.
“We just have a lot of young talent and talent that has grown over the years that they’ve been here,” Washington said. “I think that’s going to be the difference between this year and last year.”
The regionals will follow a double-elimination format through the three days, with the winner of the regional advancing as one of the 16 teams that will compete in the Super Regionals next weekend. The Bruins would also host if they advance, due to having a high seed.
UCLA lost its first and only series of the season against then-No. 6 Arizona to finish the regular season, but coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said the postseason should be viewed as a completely new season with a new outlook.
“Brand new season, can’t wait to get started,” Inouye-Perez said. “You use an entire regular season to put yourself in a position to qualify for postseason. … Now that is all wiped clean.”
The Bruins will begin play at 8 p.m. on Friday night at Easton Stadium.