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Softball starts off NCAA regionals with home matchup against Long Beach State

Redshirt junior infielder Delanie Wisz leads No. 2 seed UCLA softball with 12 home runs entering the postseason. Wisz also sports a .323 batting average and has scored 21 runs as the Bruins begin their title defense. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin staff)

softball


Long Beach State
Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Easton Stadium
ESPN2

By Coral Smith

May 21, 2021 10:51 a.m.

Back in the postseason for the 22nd consecutive season, the Bruins are ready to make a run at another title.

“The vibes and the energy that we have going into this weekend (are) good,” said redshirt junior infielder Delanie Wisz. “We’re very hyped and very excited for what this postseason has to bring.”

No. 2 seed UCLA softball (41-4, 19-2 Pac-12) will be the host of its four-team NCAA regional to open the postseason, starting with a matchup against Long Beach State (30-9, 22-2 Big West) on Friday evening. The other two teams in the regional are Minnesota (29-11) and Fresno State (36-10, 20-4 Mountain West).

The Bruins come into the postseason as the reigning national champions after winning the title in 2019. Since the 2020 postseason was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the first time many of UCLA’s players will get a taste of playoff action.

“I feel like I’ve been waiting such a long time, which I have because obviously we didn’t have it last season,” said redshirt sophomore pitcher/first baseman Megan Faraimo. “I’m most excited for last year’s freshmen and this year’s freshmen to finally experience postseason, and I’m just telling them to enjoy every minute of it because it goes by really fast.”

This will also be the seventh year in a row in which the Bruins host their regional, one of 16 happening across the country this weekend. It will be a four-team, double-elimination bracket, with the winner advancing to the Super Regionals.

As one of the top eight seeds in the tournament, UCLA would also host this next round if the Bruins advance.

“Our goal was to be a top-eight seed and have regionals and Supers. To play in your house, in front of your fans, is always an advantage,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “There’s a familiarity about the environment, and I think it’ll be a little more exciting because we’ll get more fans as we go through, which is just going to bring more energy to the stadium.”

But to get to the Super Regionals, UCLA will have to get through three teams, starting with its contest against Long Beach State on Friday. The two teams faced off less than three weeks ago, with the Bruins winning both ends of the doubleheader by a combined 12 runs. UCLA also played Fresno State in its first game of the season, which the Bruins won 7-0.

While UCLA has not faced Minnesota this season, the Bruins did take on the Gophers in each of the last two seasons. Because UCLA had faced each of Minnesota’s top two pitchers in those games, Inouye-Perez considers the film from the contests essential to the Bruins’ preparation for this weekend.

“We have familiarity with (Minnesota) as far as being able to compete against them, as well as Fresno State and Long Beach State,” Inouye-Perez said. “So, I don’t look at it as we haven’t played them, because we actually have. And we have some footage against them, and we’ve had some opportunity to learn a bit more about the program.”

First pitch for UCLA versus Long Beach State will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Easton Stadium.

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Coral Smith | Sports senior staff
Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the gymnastics and softball beats. 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 on the gymnastics and softball beats. 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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