UCLA softball continues 14-game winning streak with string of tournament wins
Senior infielder Brianna Tautalafua notched three hits this weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic – two against Missouri and one against Kentucky. Tautalafua is hitting .179 on the year. (Daily Bruin file photo)
By Coral Smith
Feb. 25, 2019 12:22 a.m.
The Bruins showed no mercy this weekend.
No. 2 UCLA softball (14-0) won all five of its games this weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, three of which were mercy-rule victories. The weekend was capped off with a no-hitter by freshman pitcher Megan Faraimo, her second of the season so far.
“I really wasn’t even thinking about it,” Faraimo said. “I was just thinking about doing my best. … I’m really proud of my team and I think we really came together well today.”
After Thursday’s game against No. 23 Texas A&M was rained out, UCLA faced No. 4 Oklahoma (13-2) on Friday. The Sooners started with a solo home run in the second, but the Bruins would take it from there.
Three consecutive singles in the third loaded the bases for redshirt sophomore outfielder Aaliyah Jordan, whose double to bring them all in gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead they would ride to an eventual 7-1 victory.
Ten UCLA players combined for 14 hits in its 11-3 win over Missouri (9-5). Four players had at least two hits, and the Bruins were able to take advantage of five errors by the Tigers to score nine unearned runs in the six inning mercy-rule victory.
Of the 42 runs the Bruins scored over the weekend’s five games, 16 were unearned – a result of 16 errors by their opponents.
“We were playing more aggressive in general, so there was an opportunity we had to take advantage of some miscues,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “We also created some by being aggressive with our base running.”
Both of UCLA’s games Saturday were also mercy-rule victories – 9-1 against Nebraska (8-5) and 12-4 versus No. 20 Kentucky (9-7) – both in six innings. Jordan and sophomore infielder Briana Perez each had two hits in both games, and sophomore pitcher Holly Azevedo notched a three-hitter complete game win against Nebraska.
Redshirt junior pitcher Rachel Garcia picked up the win in relief against Kentucky after Faraimo was pulled in the first inning when she gave up two runs.
“Staying nice and relaxed through the whole game is a big thing for our team,” said infielder Brianna Tautalafua. “Having our backs, … having someone come off the bench and have that opportunity is also key for us.”
Junior outfielder Bubba Nickles recorded five hits, including a double, a triple and two homes runs to add to her team-leading total of six on the season.
Nickles extended her hitting streak to 24 games before it ended in Sunday’s game against Colorado State. The streak, dating back to the end of last season, was the fourth-longest hitting streak in UCLA history.
Faraimo recorded her second career no-hitter Sunday in a 3-0 victory versus Colorado State (9-4), just eight days after her first against Fresno State. She only gave up three base runners on two errors and a hit-by-pitch, while striking out nine.
Inouye-Perez said after Faraimo was pulled out in the first inning against Kentucky, she just wanted to team to have the pitcher’s back.
“I told Megan and I told the team, today would be a great opportunity for the team to have Megan’s back, to be able to play strong behind her knowing that Megan’s going to be on a mission,” Inouye-Perez said. “Every day she goes out there and is planning to throw that no-no.”
The Bruins will be back on the road next week at the Judi Garman Classic, starting with a Wednesday night game against No. 3 Florida in Fullerton, California.