Note From The Editor: This is our final posting and coverage of the season for the 2015 Bruin Softball team and its program. In a quick look back on the World Series, we venture to say that “it’s a thin line between will and skill.” There was never a doubt about the will to win. It all came down to the skill of winning the tournament’s final Best 2-out-of 3 and bringing home the National Softball title once again. The Bruins had a rough time in blending those two atttributes evenly and convincingly. The #7 seeded Bruins (51-12), faced this dilemma during their final two games at the 2015 NCAA WCWS. From our perspective, we noted that the Bruins just couldn’t find ways to manufacture badly-needed insurance runs in these most competetive games of their season, and that they lacked the depth of a quality and “battle-tested” pitching staff needed to compete over the long course of this double-elimination tournament, and ultimately a Best of Three series, for the Championship ring. Having said that, the team and Coaching staff knew they were in for their most serious and final fights of the season.
But first, on the bright side of the 2015 season, the nationally ranked Bruins made their much sought-after return trip to the Series, since winning it all in 2010. In so doing, they won their first game with a huge upset win over the #2 Oregon Ducks, 7-1. They then moved into the Winners bracket the following day, only to meet up with the #3 seeded Michigan Wolverines, led by their highly accomplished and All-American junior infielder, Sierra Romero, from Vista Murrietta HS. The final score favored the Wolverines by 10-4. With the loss, the Bruins were then placed in the losers bracket that matched them up against the #4 seeded Auburn Tigers for their third game in three days. This proved to be the “extra-inning classic” game of the tournament as both teams fought to the very finish, hoping to stave-off elimination and the eventual trip home. The game featured tremendous highs and lows for both teams as the hitting kept lighting up the scoreboard. It came down to the Tigers’ final at-bats as they manufacutred a run to squeeze out the victory. In the end, after 10 emotional innings, the Bruins fell by a score of 11-10.
Fan comments on the Bruins’ final two games raised these questions. First, where was the belief in Coach Inouye-Perez’s relief of her ace pitcher, Ally Carda? and second, where was her belief in her reserves to come in and pick-up for starters who played nearly every inning of every game? Only in strategic game situations were pinch-runners inserted. It was also noted that pinch-hitters were never sent to the plate for official appearances in the tournament. We’ll await the answers down the line, but for now, much is left to the Coaching staff as they prepare to build for the future with returning players and new recruits. The team’s by-words of producing, pitching, and performing remain constant and we envison that 2016 will be yet another successful season for the Bruins!
To see the final game recaps of Michigan and Auburn as provided by the UCLA Bruins Athletic Department, click here.
Before concluding our coverge, we’d like to congratulate the entire team, the Coaching staff, and Head Coach, Kelly Inouye-Perez for another 50 win season and their return to the WCWS. In particular, we take great pride in acknowledging the following Chicana/Latina players we met and covered during the season: Jelly Felix, Sam Duran, Jazmine Sosa, Izzy Ordorica, Courtney Rivera, Jessica Amaral, and Kylee Perez. To Seniors, Rivera, Amaral, and Duran, we wish them the Best of Everything in their futures. To the underclassmen, their process of earning greater playing time and/or a starting position has already begun and we sincerely hope that 2016 will be, at the minimum, a repeat of vying for the PAC-12 Conference and then a “back-to-back” trip to the WCWS.
Lastly, in a look-ahead to next year, the Bruins announced on June 4th that their incoming freshman, and highly-regarded pitching recruit from Highland HS in Palmdale, CA., Rachel Garcia, was named the California Gatorade State Player of the Year, becoming just the second Californian ever to earn the award twice. Garcia is expected to provide immediate depth to the pitching staff. The full press release on the 2016 recruiting class can be found on the softball page by clicking here. Rico Cabrera, Sr./Editor, EastLASportsScene.Com
Credits – Photo Gallery: Action photos & Rachel Garcia: James Ybiernas, Sports Information Director, Softball; UCLA Athletics Department; Commemorative Class of 2015 T-shirt, Erik Sarni, Digital Photographer, EastLASportsScene.Com
Photo Gallery: Click once on selected picture for an enhanced image. Hover over any picture and you can read the caption.