Sunday, May 28

Softball gears up to maintain home-field advantage against Cal


UCLA got through its midweek matchup without putting redshirt freshman Rachel Garcia in the circle, which could help them against Cal, who used its primary pitcher in its Tuesday game. (Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin)

UCLA got through its midweek matchup without putting redshirt freshman Rachel Garcia in the circle, which could help them against Cal, who used its primary pitcher in its Tuesday game. (Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin)


UCLA softball will be looking into a mirror this weekend against California.

Both have similar records and both are coming off midweek, nonconference victories – UCLA against Cal State Fullerton and Cal over Sacramento State.

But the No. 13 Bruins (30-12, 5-7 Pac-12) will look to maintain home-field advantage this weekend, as the Golden Bears (26-13, ) head south to face the Bruins at Easton on Friday.

“Cal always comes out with a punch,” said sophomore infielder Brianna Tautalafua. “It will be a good fight between us.”

UCLA came away with a 7-3 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday without ever sending redshirt freshman pitcher Rachel Garcia to the circle.

Redshirt senior pitcher Paige McDuffee started with junior pitchers Selina Ta’amilo and Johanna Grauer, who both came on in relief to close out the win.

Garcia has started in the first game in three of the four conference series in her career thus far. She threw the majority of the innings pitched in the only series opener she did not start.

“It is outstanding to have a staff who can have Rachel’s back,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “This gives grace and confidence to our team.”

On Wednesday, Cal faced Sacramento State, utilizing their main pitcher Zoe Conley to come away with the 2-0 win.

Conley – who has pitched 152.1 innings this season, the most of any Cal pitchers – pitched seven innings against Sacramento State and did not give up any runs.

Cal lost their senior pitcher Nisa Ontiveros, who finished the regular season as the Pac-12 leading pitcher with an ERA at 1.91. Ontiveros was also the only pitcher in the conference with a sub-2.00 in the regular season.

Even with injuries, the Golden Bears have strung together a four-game win streak, including a 8-0 win in five innings over Fresno State.

Six different players scored against the Bulldogs, with third baseman Jazmyn Jackson and center fielder Krysten McCue putting up two for Cal.

“Cal is scrappy,” Inouye-Perez said. “They always have speed and are aggressive and these are the things that we have to prepare for defensively.”

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