Saturday, March 2, 2024

AdvertiseDonateSubmit
NewsSportsArtsOpinionThe QuadPhotoVideoIllustrationsCartoonsGraphicsThe StackPRIMEEnterpriseInteractivesPodcastsBruinwalkClassifieds

UCLA softball gears up for season with reshaped coaching staff and roster

UCLA softball coach Kelly Inouye-Perez holds one hand up in the air. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Matthew Royer

Feb. 8, 2024 3:57 p.m.

This post was updated on Feb. 8 at 9:11 p.m.

Kelly Inouye-Perez spent five seasons as a backstop before launching her coaching career in 1994.

As part of her reshaping of the Bruins’ coaching staff, the five-time Women’s College World Series champion is now returning to the bullpen to individually coach the pitchers and catchers.

However, Inouye-Perez is not fazed by the changes she’s made to the coaching assignments.

“If you look at the history of our program, Lisa (associate head coach Lisa Fernandez), Kirk (associate head coach Kirk Walker) and I have been here well over 30 years,” Inouye-Perez said. “We’ve done that; we’ve switched over from hitting and pitching – I have the luxury with my staff to do that.”

No. 8 UCLA softball’s addition of assistant coach Rob Schweyer – who was former Bruin pitcher Brooke Yanez’s personal pitching coach – to the coaching staff led her to reevaluate which position groups coaches would focus on, Inouye-Perez said. With Schweyer in the bullpen, Fernandez – who has historically been with UCLA pitchers – has now pivoted to work with the team’s hitters alongside former Bruin outfielder Bubba Nickles, who joined the staff as a graduate manager.

Sophomore utility Megan Grant said she was thrilled to work with Fernandez at the plate.

“Everyone on the team knows that me and coach Lisa are besties,” Grant said. “Figuring out she was going to be the hitting coach, it was like, ‘Oh, like just another day for me.’”

In the circle, sophomore pitcher Taylor Tinsley said while she was sad to see Fernandez move to the hitting coach role, the addition of Schweyer – an active men’s fastpitch softball player and former professional ice hockey player – has propelled the position group to another level.

Tinsley put up a 1.47 ERA last year, striking out 48 over 57.1 innings en route to a selection to the 2023 Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. Inouye-Perez said Tinsley will be a crucial option for the Bruins out of the circle this season, as she is the only returning pitcher from the 2023 roster.

Tinsley added that having Inouye-Perez in the bullpen has allowed her to see a new perspective while pitching.

“With Coach I (Inouye-Perez) more in the bullpen, it’s definitely been different with her, because she was a catcher,” Tinsley said. “We get to see the character’s point of view and how the catcher takes care of a pitcher and just how the battery really works. So it’s been nice.”

While Inouye-Perez will also still be in charge of the team’s offensive game plan in 2024, she said there’s always someone to blame if anything goes awry.

“Point the finger at me,” Inouye-Perez said. “All those people that like to judge, it’s my decision on when we should or shouldn’t. And the rights and wrongs, it’s all on me, and I have no problem with that.”

(Myka Fromm/Assistant Photo editor)
Sophomore pitcher Taylor Tinsley yells as she walks on the field. (Myka Fromm/Assistant Photo editor)

The Lawnmower

There’s a newcomer to the Bruins’ roster, and she’s just 5-foot-6.

Tinsley said there’s more to freshman pitcher/outfielder Kaitlyn Terry than her height.

“She’s the lawnmower,” Tinsley said. “She mows people down.”

Terry – the reigning Gatorade Arizona Softball Player of the Year – held a 0.21 earned run average and struck out 406 batters in her high school senior-year campaign.

Tinsley said that from what she’s seen from Terry in practice, she‘ll make an immediate impact in college softball.

“Nothing is going to stop her this year,” Tinsley said.

Pitching is not the only thing that comes to mind for Terry’s skillset on the softball diamond. Inouye-Perez said she put up Rachel Garcia-like numbers in high school, an asset that she hopes translates at the next level not just in the circle but at the plate.

During the first fall practice that Terry took part in, the first-year Bruin stepped up to the plate and immediately swung and hit the ball opposite field off the scoreboard for a home run, Inouye-Perez said.

“She’s a left-handed hitter, and she wound up and boom,” Inouye-Perez said. “Everyone went, ‘Are you serious?’”

Grant said Terry is a true two-way player, adding that she used to play against the newcomer before both of them arrived in Westwood.

“She is legit,” Grant said. “Slapping, hitting, she can do it all, speed, everything.”

Inouye-Perez said while Terry’s offensive prowess is impressive, her approach will be similar to how she used former Bruin pitcher/first baseman Megan Faraimo.

The focus for this season will be adjusting Terry – No. 12 recruit in the 2023 class, according to MaxPreps – to pitching at the collegiate level, Inouye-Perez said, adding that while she will have opportunities to hit throughout the season, she will not be immediately implemented as a two-way player.

“She’s fierce,” Inouye-Perez said. “We look forward to being able to have everyone go, ‘Oh, look at UCLA, there’s that lefty.’”

Share this story:FacebookTwitterRedditEmail
Matthew Royer | National news and higher education editor
Royer is the 2023-2024 national news and higher education editor. He is also a Sports staff writer on the men’s soccer and softball beats. He was previously the 2022-2023 city and crime editor and a contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a fourth-year political science student minoring in labor studies from West Hills, California.
Royer is the 2023-2024 national news and higher education editor. He is also a Sports staff writer on the men’s soccer and softball beats. He was previously the 2022-2023 city and crime editor and a contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a fourth-year political science student minoring in labor studies from West Hills, California.
COMMENTS
Featured Classifieds
Room for Rent

1bedroom1bath with adjoining patio, furnished, all utilities paid including private security, UCLA adjacent, extreme privacy. Available March 1st. $1700/mo. Male preferred. 310-488-9061

More classifieds »
Related Posts