UCLA Softball Puts the Spotlight on Minor College Sports
April 11, 2019
When people talk about UCLA sports the first thing that comes to mind is their men's basketball team and the second thing in the conversation is football. Both of those programs are struggling but several of UCLA's smaller sports have climbed to the top of the college sports mountain.
The women's softball team is 35-1 and ranked No. 1 in the nation. The men's baseball team is No. 1 with a record of 23-6. The women's beach volleyball team is 26-1 and ranked No. 1 and the women's gymnastics team won the NCAA Regional Final last week and has been one of the top teams in the nation this year.
The softball team starts a three game series at home against Oregon on Friday at 7 p.m. On Saturday they battle the Ducks at 7 p.m. and Sunday the game starts at 1 p.m. The baseball team takes on East Carolina at home on Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday they play a double –header against East Carolina at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. On Monday they stay at home against Pepperdine at 6 p.m.
The beach volleyball teams' next home games are Saturday, April 20, at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The gymnastic team will be in Texas on April 20, for the NCAA Championships. The men and women's track and field teams will compete in the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational at Drake Stadium on the UCLA campus on Saturday, April 13. It's an all-day meet that starts at 9 a.m.
The softball and beach volleyball teams appear to have the best chance of winning a NCAA championship. "I said from the start that I believe this team is very balanced," said UCLA's head softball coach Kelly Inoye-Perez after a recent victory at UCLA. "We have the combination of speed and power. We are very athletic and I think our versatility is definitely something that has been a strength of ours. I have the ability to move people in different positions."
The problem UCLA has had during the last several years pitching. They have always had one outstanding pitcher but to win the College World Series you need at least two great pitchers. This year they have three really good pitchers in Rachel Garcia, Holly Azevedo and freshman Megan Faraimo. "I am excited about our pitching," said Inoye-Perez. "We have more depth in the circle. You have been able to see that this year. We are not relying on one pitcher."
The person on the field that benefits the most from having a great pitching staff is senior back catcher Paige Halstead. "We are very blessed to have three amazing pitchers. We are pretty fortunate to have a great freshman pitcher to come in and add to the depth of our pitching staff. It's so fun because all of the pitchers are easy going."
Inoye-Perez knows there is always going to be a target on the back of the Bruins but she believes they are ready for the challenge. "We believe we are the best team but we have to back it up with our actions. We have to show up every day. I am looking forward to some exciting softball the rest of the year but the only ranking that matters is at the end of the year."