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UCLA softball takes Pac-12 weekly awards sweep to TaxAct Clearwater Invitational

Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez hands the ball to junior outfielder Lauryn Carter. In the early stages of her 35th consecutive season with UCLA softball, Inouye-Perez will lead the Bruins into Clearwater, Florida, for their second tournament of the season. (Myka Fromm/Daily Bruin)

Softball


Nebraska
Thursday, 4 p.m.

Eddie C. Moore Complex (Clearwater, FL)
ESPN+
No. 12 Alabama
Friday, 1 p.m.

Eddie C. Moore Complex (Clearwater, FL)
ESPN2
No. 7 Florida State
Saturday, 7 a.m.

Eddie C. Moore Complex (Clearwater, FL)
ESPNU
No. 9 Virginia Tech
Saturday, 1 p.m.

Eddie C. Moore Complex (Clearwater, FL)
ESPNU
No. 22 Louisiana
Sunday, 7 a.m.

Eddie C. Moore Complex (Clearwater, FL)
ESPNU

By Sam Lieberman

Feb. 16, 2023 12:34 p.m.

After sweeping all three Pac-12 weekly awards, the Bruins will look to build on their early-season success.

In its only regular-season road trip to the east coast, No. 2 UCLA softball (7-0) will play five games in four days at the TaxAct Clearwater Invitational. The Florida tournament includes matchups against four ranked opponents, as the blue and gold will compete against Nebraska (4-1) on Thursday, No. 12 Alabama (2-1) on Friday, No. 7 Florida State (6-1) and No. 9 Virginia Tech (5-0) on Saturday, and conclude against No. 22 Louisiana (4-0) on Sunday.

Through seven games, the Bruins have outscored their opponents 62-5, batted .404 as a team and notched a combined 1.120 OPS.

The Bruins’ pitching has been equally significant. The staff has posted an ERA of 0.51 and a WHIP of 0.46 en route to throwing two no-hitters – one by freshman pitcher/infielder Taylor Tinsley on Saturday against CSU Bakersfield and another by redshirt senior pitcher/first baseman Megan Faraimo on Sunday against San Diego.

When asked about her fellow arms in the pen, Faraimo had nothing but praise.

“We gel really well together. We’re all so dynamic and I think they’re very talented,” Faraimo said. “I feel like every single one of us can plug in in any situation, which I think is unique to UCLA softball.”

For their efforts, Tinsley was given the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award, while Faraimo garnered Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week honors. Faraimo beat out Utah’s Mariah Lopez for the selection, despite Lopez winning the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Pitcher of the Week award for her performance.

One Bruin, however, did receive an NFCA award, as redshirt junior utility Maya Brady was named Player of the Week after hitting .813 (13-for-16) with four home runs, 14 RBIs and 13 runs across her first six games.

Brady also tied a program record by notching 10 consecutive at-bats with a hit, joining Stacy Nuveman and Lisa Fernandez as the only Bruins to accomplish this feat.

“It makes me so grateful. There’s obviously just been so many people that helped me on a daily basis: our coaches, my teammates,” Brady said. “It’s just really a product of them and them believing in me and constantly reminding me about who I am and what this program is about.”

Freshman infielder Ramsey Suarez also had high remarks about her teammates as she continues to get acclimated in Westwood.

“The girls really get along super well. We’re all just really friendly to each other. We’re all like sisters pretty much,” Suarez said. “We work together really well. Our communication is really good. I love it here.”

In her first career start Sunday, Suarez went 2-3 with 3 RBIs, picking up her first career hit and first career home run in the process.

Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez indicated that she was excited for her team to gain experience and continue to improve during its upcoming stay in Clearwater.

“We had some great games this weekend. I think they had like 17 hits in one game. Those are always fun,” Inouye-Perez said. “But the ability to play these tight games, I think you get to learn a lot about ourselves.”

The Bruins will enter this weekend with recent playoff experience against three of the teams they will face.

In 2021, UCLA beat Virginia Tech twice in the Super Regionals to advance to the Women’s College World Series. The blue and gold then beat Florida State in its first game of the WCWS but fell to Alabama in its next game before being eliminated by eventual champion Oklahoma.

Florida State eliminated UCLA in the 2018 WCWS after winning two games in a row against the blue and gold, and since then, the latter has gone 2-1 against the former. The last bout between the two went the way of the Seminoles in a 4-3 extra-innings loss for the Bruins.

“Pressure is a privilege. I want to see who steps up in those moments,” Inouye-Perez said. “I hope to be challenged.”

UCLA will begin the TaxAct Clearwater Invitational on Thursday when it matches up against Nebraska at 4 p.m.

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Sam Lieberman
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