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Led by experience and confidence, UCLA softball to begin quest for 13th title

Brooke Yanez looks into home plate for a sign from her catcher. The sixth-year pitcher for UCLA softball is coming off a complete-game shutout against Stanford and a three-run outing against Utah at the Pac-12 tournament. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Softball


Grand Canyon
Friday, 5 p.m.

Easton Stadium
ESPN+

By Nick Darrow

May 18, 2023 4:13 p.m.

This post was updated May 18 at 10:48 p.m.

The Bruins will open the NCAA tournament hosting a regional for the ninth straight season.

No. 2 seed UCLA softball (52-5, 21-3 Pac-12) will begin its quest Friday night for its 13th national championship when it hosts Grand Canyon (46-11, 17-7 WAC), a team making its second NCAA tournament appearance. The Antelopes’ first entry into the national postseason picture was in 2022, where they competed against the Bruins and lost the regional opening contest 12-1.

Freshman infielder Jordan Woolery, one of seven Bruins making their NCAA tournament debuts, said she is ready for the playoff environment.

“I’m excited for the postseason atmosphere and getting to play in front of the fans again,” Woolery said. “The upperclassmen have just said to take it one game at a time and not worry too much about who’s in the dugout but just worrying about playing our game.”

In addition to Woolery – the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year – UCLA also boasts the Pac-12 Player and Pitcher of the Year, both of whom hold postseason experience.

Redshirt junior utility Maya Brady and senior pitcher Megan Faraimo have been a huge part of the Bruins’ recent postseason success. Faraimo was also part of the 2019 team that won the national championship, and Brady was an integral part of the Bruins’ run last year, making the Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team.

Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said Brady and Faraimo have become important leaders, and she expects more of the same this weekend.

“A big part of the success of our season is because of Maya and Megan, and we have a saying that calm is contagious,” Inouye-Perez said. “So if they can do that, then I believe that contagious confidence will allow us to be able to compete and stay in a ballgame until we win.”

Alongside Faraimo, the Bruins boast sixth-year Brooke Yanez and freshman Taylor Tinsley in the circle. The group has accumulated a 1.66 ERA, good for 10th in the nation, along with 398 strikeouts compared to only 78 walks.

Yanez said it is important she focuses on trust and making sure she knows she can rely on her defense at all times.

“That’s the most important thing, just trusting that we prepared for this,” Yanez said. “And we – our staff – have worked the hardest that we ever have. And we’re one of the hardest working staffs in the country. So that’s what we need to remind ourselves, especially in tough situations.”

If the Bruins are able to defeat the Antelopes, they will face the winner of Liberty and San Diego State, two teams they played and defeated during the regular season.

UCLA faces Grand Canyon on Friday at 5 p.m. in the NCAA Los Angeles Regional, hosted at Easton Stadium.

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Nick Darrow | Sports reporter
Darrow is currently a Sports reporter on the men's soccer beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's tennis, men's volleyball and men's soccer beats.
Darrow is currently a Sports reporter on the men's soccer beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's tennis, men's volleyball and men's soccer beats.
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