#1 UCLA Softball 2019 Preview

UCLA Bruins
Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 Pac-12
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UCLA heads into the 2019 season as a team on a mission as the Bruins made it to the WCWS Semifinals where they lost twice to the national champion Florida State. UCLA had a 1-0 lead over the Seminoles in the first semifinal game in bottom of the sixth when Elizabeth Mason’s three-run homerun gave Florida State the lead that they would never relinquish. A veteran team returns for the Bruins that will be primed to turn the near miss from 2018 into a national title run this spring.
2018: 58-7, 20-4
2018 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kelly Inouye-Perez
Key Departed Players:
Kylee Perez, INF, .382 BA, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 10 SB
Selina Ta’amilo, P, 2.53 ERA, 10-3 W/L, 72.0 IP, 23 BB, 45 SO
Key Returning Players:
Rachel Garcia, P/1B, .1.31 ERA, 29-4 W/L, 208.0 IP, 48 BB, 315 SO, 339 BA, 11 HR, 54 RBI
Aaliyah Jordan, OF, .429 BA, 12 HR, 67 RBI
Bubba Nickles, UTIL, .413 BA, 10 HR, 52 RBI
Briana Perez, INF, .386 BA, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 11 SB
Taylor Pack, C/OF, .330 BA, 4 HR, 23 RBI
Kinsley Washington, UTIL, .328 BA, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 7 SB
Brianna Tautalafua, INF, .262 BA, 8 HR, 35 RBI
Holly Azevedo, P, 2.18 ERA, 15-0 W/L, 115.2 IP, 45 BB, 88 SO
Rachel Garcia is the reigning national player of the year and was also named to the 2019 USA Softball Women’s National team in January. Garcia went 29-4 with a 1.31 earned run average in 2018 along with striking out 315 batters in 208 innings of work.  At the plate, Garcia did her part at a high level, hitting .339 with 11 homeruns and 54 runs batted in making her the best two-way player in college softball. Aaliyah Jordan and Bubba Nickles are a lethal 1-2 punch in the batting order for UCLA as they both hit well over.400 and combined for 22 homeruns and 119 runs batted in last season. Briana Perez and Taylor Pack will provide a nice mix of hitting for high average and power that will set the Bruins up to be a dangerous everyday lineup. Holly Azevedo is an excellent number two pitcher to compliment Garcia and will be looking to take an even bigger step forward in 2019 as a sophomore. Azevedo went 15-0 with a 2.18 earned run average and did a great job of keeping the ball in the ballpark as she only allowed six homeruns last season. The schedule sets up well for UCLA to get off to a fast start in the first two weeks of the season and then in week three at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic the competition will ramp up with games against Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kentucky. A rematch with Florida will then take on place on February 27th for a single game followed by another matchup to start the Judi Garman Classic. The road to the Pac-12 conference title will begin with a trip to Seattle to take on Washington in a series that will be tightly contested with great pitching. If the Bruins can win that series it should set them up to win the conference title. UCLA should end up back at the Women’s College World Series and are the favorite to win the national championship in 2019.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament