Softball looks to extend winning record in weekend tournament
By Min Kang
February 18, 2010 12:52 pm
Not that the road-tested Bruins need it, but a familiar treat awaits them Friday.
Through its first six games of the season, the No. 4 UCLA softball team (5-1) has traveled both far and near, venturing as far as to Florida and staying as local as Santa Barbara en route to winning five of those six contests.
But for the first time this season, the team will play within the friendly confines of Easton Stadium Friday afternoon as they host the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament, taking on Cal State Northridge (1-5) before facing Cal Poly (0-0) in the nightcap.
“Oh I’m really excited,” sophomore pitcher Aleah Macon said. “I’m looking forward to playing at our home stadium in front of our family and friends and (fans) at our school.”
Macon and her teammates have plenty of reasons to return with their heads held high. For the most part, the Bruins have dominated the competition, with four of their wins coming by way of the mercy rule.
They have also responded when faced with adversity. Twice already, the Bruins have played from a deficit, only to battle back and pull off the come-from-behind wins.
As for why the team has been so dominant and resilient, players and coaches alike credit a roster chock-full of talent for the early-season success.
“The best thing about this team is the depth that we have in this lineup,” coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “It allows for certain people who may not be having a great game to be picked up by teammates and still feel great.”
Junior second baseman GiOnna DiSalvatore, who is hitting .526 and slugging .895 this season, said the Bruins posses strengths throughout their lineup.
“One through nine, everybody can hit, and that’s one of the strengths of our team,” DiSalvatore said. “We have speed, and everybody is a power hitter.”
That versatility is particularly evident when it comes to the Bruins’ pitching staff. New additions Macon, a transfer from Washington, and freshman Destiny Rodino have already shown glimpses of what they bring to the table.
Through eight innings, Macon has given up two runs (both unearned) and three hits, while Rodino has recorded two hitless innings.
“I have five different looks at pitchers, and we haven’t even seen (redshirt junior) Whitney Baker yet,” Inouye-Perez said. “Their ability to have a team-over-self mentality is going to be a great weapon for us in 2010. It starts in the circle, and they have done an outstanding job thus far.”
UCLA will return to Easton Stadium on Saturday to take on UC Davis and Cal State Northridge again before wrapping up the weekend with a game against Portland State.
And while the field of competitors will not include the likes of a ranked team this time around, the Bruins will nevertheless focus on continuing the momentum and polishing their game.
“It really is about us trying to sharpen up, getting people on (base), moving them over and clutching up,” Inouye-Perez said. “Early in the season right now, everything is just a great opportunity for us.”