#1 UCLA Softball 2021 Preview

UCLA Bruins
Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 Pac-12
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The defending Champs are back and ready to defend their Women’s College World Series title.  The Bruins swept the No. 1 seed, Oklahoma, 16-3 and 5-4 to win it all.  UCLA entered the WCWS as the No. 2 seed after sweeping James Madison in the Los Angeles Super Regional.  The Bruins won the Los Angeles Regional prior to that with a lone loss to Missouri.  UCLA leads all schools with 12 NCAA championships, 22 championship game appearances, and 30 WCWS appearances.  The Bruins were co-champions in the Pac-12 with the Washington Huskies, their eleventh such title.  Anything but championships is a disappointment for UCLA.
2019: 56-6, 20-4
2019 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kelly Inouye-Perez
Key Departed Players:
Taylor Pack, C/1B, .369 BA, 12 HR, 50 RBI
Paige Halstead, C, .275 BA, 2 HR, 12 RBI
Brianna Tautalafua, 3B, .200 BA, 5 HR, 22 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Rachel Garcia, P/1B, 1.14 ERA, 29-1 W/L, 202.0 IP, 286 SO, .343 BA, 11 HR, 57 RBI
Bubba Nickles, UTIL, .390 BA, 18 HR, 72 RBI
Aaliyah Jordan, OF, .383 BA, 13 HR, 61 RBI
Briana Perez, SS, .383 BA, 7 HR, 45 RBI, 21 SB
Kelli Godin, OF, .418 BA, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 23 SB
Kinsley Washington, 1B, .321 BA, 1 HR, 19 RBI
Megan Faraimo P, 1.44 ERA, 16-4 W/L, 112.0 IP
Holly Azevedo P, 2.12 ERA, 11-1 W/L, 89.0 IP
The Bruins were led last year by National Player of the Year Rachel Garcia.  Outfielder Bubba Nickles made second team NFCA All-American. Garcia went 29-1 in 2019 with a 1.14 ERA and 286 strikeouts in 202.0 innings. She also hit .343 at the plate with 11 homeruns and 57 RBIs. Nickles hit an impressive .390 with 18 homeruns and 72 RBIs. In the circle, sophomore Megan Faraimo and junior Holly Azedo will be quality backups.  Faraimo is considered one of the top pitchers in the country so there is an impressive amount of depth. Expect Aalihah Jordan to bounce back to her 2018 First Team All-American status (.429 BA, 12 HR, 67 RBI), but with more power.  The Bruins solved a major question behind the plate when they announced the addition of graduate transfer Jenavee Peres to the roster.  The former Second Team All-American at San Diego State has a career batting average of .409 with 34 home runs. UCLA could be starting two highly acclaimed freshmen with 2B Maya Brady and 3B Seneca Curo. They both started all 26 games in the shortened in the 2020 campaign and proved to be very effective.  The champs will be battling Washington and Arizona once again for the Pac-12 crown.  Expectations are that they will be back in Oklahoma City in June and poised to hoist the trophy once again.
Projected Postseason: Women’s College World Series