Tuesday, February 18

Softball advances to 10-0 record despite final struggle over weekend

Redshirt freshman Aaliyah Jordan logged nine RBIs over the weekend. She accounted for nearly a third of the Bruins' offense at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic I. (Jenna Smith/Daily Bruin)

UCLA softball continued hitting the ball well this weekend.

The No. 5 Bruins (10-0) outscored their opponents 30-7 in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic I before losing an exhibition match against the Japanese national softball team.

On Saturday, UCLA headed east to Cathedral City, California, where they squared off against UC Santa Barbara (5-6) after starting off the season on a six-game winning streak.

The top of the Bruin lineup consisted of freshman shortstop Briana Perez, senior second basemen Kylee Perez and redshirt freshman left fielder Aaliyah Jordan, hit a combined 5-for-8 with three RBIs, 6 runs and three walks against the Gauchos.

Jordan, who claimed to struggle the first week of the season, took this weekend as an opportunity to solidify her place in the lineup, batting third behind the Perez sisters.

“They always find a way to get on (base) and I try to do my best to move them,” Jordan said. “I’m batting third, my job is to produce.”

Jordan ended the Classic going 8-for-10 with nine RBIs, two triples, three doubles, a home run, 5 runs scored and three walks.

“She’s on fire,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “It’s great to see her be (herself) knowing well what she is capable of. She was a huge offensive threat for us.”

With the help of a complete game from freshman pitcher Holly Azevedo, the Bruins defeated the Gauchos 9-1.

On Sunday, redshirt sophomore Rachel Garcia took the mound for the Bruins and tossed seven shutout innings, striking out 10 and allowing one base hit against Syracuse (5-3).

The lone base hit for the Orange came in the top of the seventh as Garcia gave up a leadoff single. This was the second straight appearance in which the second-year pitcher lost a perfect game in the seventh inning.

“I don’t go out there looking to pitch a perfect game every time,” Garcia said. “It will come soon though, sooner or later.”

A 4-run second inning that began with a solo home run from sophomore Bubba Nickles provided Garcia with enough run support, and the Bruins went on to win 6-0.

The nightcap saw Jordan lead the Bruins against UAB (3-7) going 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, a triple, two RBIs and a run scored.

Junior catcher Taylor Pack, who continues to share duties behind the plate with her fellow junior Paige Halstead, also contributed offensively going 2-for-3 with a 2-run home run.

Senior pitcher Johanna Grauer fired a five-inning complete game in the mercy-rule shortened contest. The senior allowed one hit, walked three and struck out six as the Bruins defeated the Blazers 8-0.

A quick turnaround Monday presented the Bruins with a challenge as UCLA trailed after the first inning against both Grand Canyon (3-8) and Japan’s national softball team.

Senior pitcher Selina Ta’amilo, who missed offseason training due to an undisclosed injury that required surgery, made her first start of the season against GCU.

The righty was chased from the mound after recording one out in the second inning. Ta’amilo gave up two base hits, three walks and 3 earned runs.

“It’s early in the season,” Inouye-Perez said. “She didn’t have the luxury of being involved in fall ball so it will be a process getting her back out.”

Ta’amilo was replaced by Grauer who also struggled to keep the Thunder’s bats at bay. She gave up five hits and 2 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings of work.

The Bruins backed up their struggling pitchers, quickly responding to each deficit.

Leadoff hitter Briana Perez went 3-for-4, followed by Kylee Perez who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and 2 runs scored. Jordan went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and 2 runs scored.

Nickles, batting sixth, went 4-for-4 with an RBI but failed to cross home plate once as the Bruins failed to drive insurance runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

Garcia pitched two scoreless innings and struck out four to pick up her first save of the season as UCLA defeated GCU 7-6.

UCLA picked up their first loss of the season in an exhibition match against Team Japan that will not count in the Bruins’ record.

Azevedo, who came into the match undefeated, was rattled by the Japanese national team giving up a leadoff triple en route to allowing four hits, three walks and 4 earned runs in three innings of work.

This time around the Bruins’ bats couldn’t overcome the early deficit as the team only mustered two hits.

“It was an experience playing against a national team,” Inouye-Perez said. “We’re going to let that game go and put ourselves in a position to be ready for next weekend.”

UCLA will head back to Cathedral City on Friday where they’ll participate in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic II.


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