The Bruins were nearly no-hit Thursday night.
After averaging 6.7 runs per game and just over nine hits per game this season, No. 1 UCLA softball (48-4, 18-4 Pac-12) put up just three hits in their 3-0 loss to No. 6 Arizona State (43-9, 16-6).
It was only the second time this season the Bruins left the diamond without putting up a run, with the Sun Devils star pitcher Giselle Juarez responsible for the shutout.
Juarez pitched the entire game, logged nine strikeouts and earned her 23rd win of the season.
“Their pitching was something we haven’t seen yet,” said junior third baseman Brianna Tautalafua. “If we face her again we’ll probably get her next time.”
Tautalafua said part of the reason she was so hard to hit was Juarez’s ability to put movement on the ball.
UCLA hadn’t been blanked since their third game against Oregon on March 18 and hadn’t logged fewer than four hits all year.
The only Bruins to get hits Thursday were freshman shortstop Briana Perez, sophomore center fielder Bubba Nickles and senior first baseman Madeline Jelenicki.
Aside from those three hits, UCLA’s bats were nonexistent.
Redshirt sophomore Rachel Garcia was nearly spotless, too – until the fourth inning.
After hitting a batter and surrendering a bunt immediately thereafter, Garcia gave up her fourth home run of the year to make the score 3-0 in favor of the Sun Devils, and that was where it would stay for the rest of the game.
Garcia finished with 10 strikeouts and a complete game of her own.
“Overall (Garcia) was really good, she’s the back bone of our team,” Tautalafua said.
After the loss, UCLA’s chances of winning the Pac-12 outright have dwindled slightly. The Bruins will have to take the next two games against Arizona State and hope No. 2 Oregon drops at least two of their games to No. 24 Cal this weekend.
The Bruins will be back in action against the Sun Devils on Friday at 7 p.m.