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UCLA softball hits series opener against Oregon State out of the park

Flashing the fours up, Jordan Woolery heads toward home plate after a home run. The freshman infielder for UCLA softball stands second in batting average among eligible Bruins following a pair of dingers against the Beavers on Thursday. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Softball


Oregon State2
No. 3 UCLA6

By Nicole Augusta

April 7, 2023 11:12 a.m.

What started as a battle of pitchers ended with the Bruins hitting their series opener out of the park.

No. 3 UCLA softball (34-4, 10-3 Pac-12) began its home series against Oregon State (11-21-1, 2-10-1) on Thursday with a 6-2 win, complete with a display of hitting prowess from freshman infielder Jordan Woolery.

The scoreboard was deceptively quiet in the early going, as most of the action took place on the mound.

Oregon State pitcher Tarni Stepto immediately proved a credible threat to the Bruins, turning in a three-up, three-down first inning. UCLA’s own redshirt senior pitcher Megan Faraimo quickly accepted the challenge and followed suit, performing the same feat in both the second and third innings. Though her outing was interrupted in the sixth by the entrance of freshman pitcher Taylor Tinsley, Faraimo eventually closed out the game with 10 strikeouts and four innings in which she retired the side.

Faraimo largely credited her ability to stay dialed in to her teammates and coaching staff.

“It takes a lot, and it takes a lot of teamwork,” Faraimo said. Knowing that I have a group of people, a whole entire staff that’s with me, it doesn’t feel so lonely out there, and it’s a lot easier to be disciplined.”

After two Bruin batters were downed via groundouts, Woolery stepped up to bat in the third frame and shattered Stepto’s plans with a long ball over the left-field wall, bringing redshirt junior utility Maya Brady home in the process. UCLA’s run count advanced to four when sophomore utility Savannah Pola knocked an RBI single of her own before the end of the inning.

Drawing comparisons to their slow start against UC San Diego earlier in the week, Woolery said that once runs are on the board for UCLA, it is able to amp up its energy.

“I feel like we try to score early and as often as we can,” Woolery said. “Getting that going really took that momentum away from them and really brought it to our side.”

And Woolery’s philosophy held true, as just one inning later, she slammed another ball over the fence, this time good for three Bruin runs.

She resides in the lineup’s No. 3 spot behind fellow freshman utility Megan Grant, whom Woolery pushed across the plate via her second dinger of the game. Though their rookie status often turns heads regarding their roster placement, coach Kelly Inouye-Perez credited the duo’s standout performances to something larger than class standing.

“Freshmen stereotypically can get overwhelmed or need time to gain experience, but … they have a resiliency about them that seems to be more mature, more experienced,” Inouye-Perez said. “So for us, they’re no longer freshmen. They’re literally just solid hitters for UCLA softball in 2023.”

Though the Beavers did not recover from six Bruin runs, they weren’t held scoreless thanks to a home run by infielder Frankie Hammoude in the sixth inning, marking her only hit of the night. While Faraimo withheld it from reaching base for the majority of the matchup, Hammoude and infielder Grace Messmer tried to rally Oregon State, with the latter delivering two hits at the plate.

The blue and gold did not have a perfect game on the field but relied on defensive cooperation to prevent either Hammoude or Messmer from advancing around the diamond, according to Inouye-Perez.

“Defense wins championships,” Inouye-Perez said. “The ability to limit giving the opponent extra outs or giving them free bases is a big part of what prevents rallies and allows for us to be able to win ball games.”

The series will continue at 6 p.m. on Friday at Easton Stadium, where Woolery is ready to go yard yet again.

“I feel pretty confident going in, and I just know throughout the series, I’ll get more pitches, and I’ll have more opportunities to,” Woolery said.

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Nicole Augusta
Augusta is a 2023-2024 Slot editor and Sports senior staff member on the softball beat. She was previously a Copy and Sports contributor on the women's volleyball beat. She is also a third-year human biology and society student.
Augusta is a 2023-2024 Slot editor and Sports senior staff member on the softball beat. She was previously a Copy and Sports contributor on the women's volleyball beat. She is also a third-year human biology and society student.
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