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Softball extends winning streak to 13 as it prepares to head back into Pac-12 play

Junior outfielder Bubba Nickles hit a two-run home run against Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday to push UCLA to the 5-1 win over the Titans. (Taylor Lee/Daily Bruin)

By Coral Smith

March 27, 2019 5:25 p.m.

The Bruins continued their success in their break from Pac-12 play.

No. 1 UCLA softball (29-1, 3-0 Pac-12) finished up nonconference play with four victories to extend its winning streak to 13 games and remain atop the rankings.

“We’re versatile, and we’re athletic,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “Consistency is always something that we’re working on.”

The Bruins played two games Sunday at CSUN (16-17 Big West) and won both by the mercy rule, beating Saint Mary’s (7-21 WCC) 9-1 in five innings and the home team 14-2 in six.

UCLA scored in every inning of its victory against Saint Mary’s, collecting nine hits from eight players including a home run each for senior utility Taylor Pack and redshirt junior first baseman Rachel Garcia. Freshman pitcher Megan Faraimo recorded the complete game, giving up just one hit, one walk and one unearned run.

Freshman utility Kelli Godin recorded three stolen bases in the game to tie a career-best. Godin had previously stole three bases in another Bruins’ victory earlier this season, also against Saint Mary’s. Godin notched four hits, four RBIs, five runs and four stolen bases in the doubleheader.

“Honestly, I’m just trying to put the bat on the ball and just hit it on the ground and let my speed do the work,” Godin said. “I’ve just been successful so far.”

In game two versus CSUN, Garcia gave up two unearned runs on a hit and a walk as UCLA entered the sixth inning with a 4-2 lead. But the Bruins broke the game open at that point, scoring 10 runs in the inning on seven hits, including a home run from senior catcher Paige Halstead and two triples from Godin and sophomore infielder Briana Perez.

The Bruins returned home to face UC Santa Barbara (6-25 Big West) and Cal State Fullerton (20-13) on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, taking the win against both teams.

The Bruins scored five of their six runs against the Gauchos in the third inning, capped by a three-run double by Pack. Sophomore pitcher Holly Azevedo moved to 7-0 on the season with her first complete-game shutout of the year. Azevedo gave up five hits and a walk while striking out five.

The Bruins used five singles and a bases-loaded walk to take the lead against Cal State Fullerton 3-0 in the second inning of the game. Faraimo then gave up a fourth-inning home run – the only earned run UCLA gave up all weekend.

The Bruins immediately responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-run home run by junior outfielder Bubba Nickles, which sailed over the scoreboard in left field. That’s all UCLA would need for the 5-1 victory, as Faraimo finished with 11 strikeouts, while only giving up three hits.

“I’ve been in a little bit of a slump, so it definitely helped to see my teammates battle and see (Faraimo) out on the mound,” Nickles said. “We have to have each other’s backs.”

The Bruins will return to Pac-12 play this weekend with a home series against California starting Friday.

“We just did a great job of getting through preseason and learning about ourselves,” Inouye-Perez said. “Now, we’ve got to sharpen up our game and get ready for Pac-12s.”

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Coral Smith | Sports senior staff
Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the softball, gymnastics, women's volleyball, swim & dive and rowing beats. Smith was previously a staff writer on the softball, women's volleyball, rowing and swim & dive beats.
Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the softball, gymnastics, women's volleyball, swim & dive and rowing beats. Smith was previously a staff writer on the softball, women's volleyball, rowing and swim & dive beats.
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