Culver City Observer -

By Steve Finley
Sports Reporter 

UCLA Softball Faces James Madison in Super Regional

 

George Lasse

Rachel Garcia of UCLA continues to be one of the best softball pitchers in the nation.

The UCLA softball team will face one of its' toughest challenges of the year when they play James Madison University in the Super Regionals in a best of three game series this weekend at UCLA. The first game will be played on Friday at 6 p.m., the second game is Saturday at 5 p.m. and the third game, if necessary will be played on Sunday at 1 p.m.

UCLA has been one of the top ranked teams all season and James Madison has also been highly ranked. The Bruins are 49-6 and Madison is 51-8. Both teams have a College Player of the Year candidate and both teams have hitting and pitching that can take them to the next level, which is the College World Series. The World Series will consist of eight teams that win the eight Super Regionals.

The two Player of the Year candidates are Rachel Garcia from UCLA and Odicci Alexander from James Madison. The two top players' statistics are very similar. Garcia is 23-1 on the mound and Alexander is 24-1. Garcia has 238 strike outs in 157 innings and Alexander 167 strike outs in 146 innings pitched.

Garcia is batting .340 with eight home runs and 43 runs batted in and Alexander is hitting .327 with 14 home runs and 56 runs batted in. Both players have plenty of help. James Madison has seven players batting over .300 and two of them are hitting over .400. UCLA also has seven players batting over .300 and two hitting over .400.

George Lasse

In first round regional play last weekend, UCLA's Bubba Nickles scored six runs, had 11 runs batted in with seven hits, including two home runs and two doubles. The Bruins play James Madison University

On paper the two school are almost dead even. "We respect our opponents that we play but we are really focused on how we play," said UCLA head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez last week after a win over Weber State in the Regionals. "I believe our best ball is yet to come."

What makes UCLA so competitive is their offensive line up is loaded from top to bottom. "That's why we have been so successful all year," said Inouye-Perez, who is in her 13th year as a head coach 26th overall at UCLA. "The history of our program is that we have players at the top and the bottom of our lineup who can produce. That's when we are at our best."

At the top is Bubba Nickles and Briana Perez and at the bottom is Kinsley Washington and Kelli Godin. All four players are batting over .300 and Nickles leads the Bruins in home runs.

Another reason the Bruins have been so successful this year is they have been able to stay healthy. "This team in the fall built a foundation and they worked very hard with our weight coach Adam (Gamer). I am very proud of this team."

 

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