Softball slides strongly into season with 2 more shutouts in opening tournament
Freshman infielder Seneca Curo hit her first home run of the season on Saturday, a two-run homer that gave No. 4 UCLA softball a 4-0 lead over Pittsburgh. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin)
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This post was updated Feb. 10 at 1:19 a.m.
The Bruins’ weekend wins came in all shapes and sizes.
No. 4 UCLA softball (4-0) has won three more games during the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament, beating Cal Poly (2-2) on Friday and then Pittsburgh (2-2) and Cal State Bakersfield (0-5) on Saturday. The games ranged from an 8-0 mercy-rule win to a 4-0 triumph to an 8-4 back-and-forth victory, respectively.
“We got to learn a lot about ourselves,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “You got to see all the parts of our game – we had some great moments of solid pitching, hitting, speed and defense, and you also can see that we are not perfect.”
UCLA got off to a slower start with just two runs in the first four innings Friday against Cal Poly. Outside of their second-inning rally – which accounted for both of the runs – the Bruins had just one baserunner before the fifth against the Mustangs’ starting pitcher Krystyna Allman.
On the mound for the Bruins, junior pitcher Holly Azevedo kept the Mustangs from stringing together a rally of their own. Cal Poly led off the first and third innings with singles, but Azevedo bounced back and recorded outs on the next three at-bats on both occasions to strand the runners and preserve the shutout.
Freshman catcher Alyssa Garcia said Azevdo’s pitching with runners on base was a difference maker.
“She’s a fighter,” Garcia said. “There was one count where she threw three balls in a row and then came back with three strikes. She’ll do anything to help the team win.”
The Bruins gave Azevedo some more breathing room with a three-run fifth inning. Another three-run rally in the sixth – led by the bottom of the order – kept Azevedo from having to pitch a seventh inning.
In the first game of the doubleheader Saturday, UCLA jumped out to a two-run lead in the first inning thanks to a two-run home run from freshman utility Maya Brady, who already has three home runs over the first weekend of her collegiate career.
The Bruins were held hitless for the next three innings before freshman infielder Seneca Curo was able to end the drought in the fifth inning with a two-run homerun of her own.
While tallying just three hits in the game, UCLA was able to hold off Pittsburgh on the back of sophomore pitcher Megan Faraimo’s second complete-game shutout of the tournament and her career-high 14 strikeouts against the Panthers.
Faraimo – who was third in the Pac-12 last season in ERA – has yet to give up a run in 12 innings this season.
Despite a career day, Faraimo said she still sees room for improvement.
“I think I did OK,” Faraimo said. “I know I missed a couple of my spots, which is going to bug me for a little bit, but my defense had my back.”
Early in the second game Saturday, UCLA was able to jump to an early 3-0 lead over CSU Bakersfield after a two-run double from Curo.
After 21 2/3 innings without giving up a run on the season, UCLA allowed two runs against CSU Bakersfield in the top of the 4th inning to shrink the Bruins lead to just three runs. The Roadrunners chipped away at the deficit even more with a two-run home run by infielder Samantha Martinez that made it just a one-run game in the middle of the fifth.
UCLA was able to respond to CSU Bakersfield’s offensive surge with a three-run home run from Brady to extend the lead to 8-4 – the margin the Bruins would eventually win by.
“We’ve got to have each other’s backs,” Inouye-Perez said. “If the pitchers give up a lot of runs, then we’ve got to have their back and outscore the opponent.“
UCLA will be back in action again Sunday, when it will take on Pittsburgh and San Diego to wrap up the tournament.
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