Softball Prepares For World Series Battle With Iowa

May 22, 2001

The eight-time NCAA Champion UCLA Bruins continue the quest for their ninth NCAA and 10th National Championship this Thursday in Oklahoma City with an 8:30 pm CT first pitch against Iowa (49-12). The Hawkeyes hosted Regional VII, and defeated top-seeded Notre Dame for their WCWS berth. Once again, the Pac-10 dominates the field in Oklahoma City, with four conference schools (Arizona, California, Stanford and UCLA) among the eight schools. UCLA leads the all-time series against six of seven possible WCWS opponents. Series records are as follows (UCLA first): 50-40 vs. Arizona (including 1-2 in 2001), 56-13 against California (3-0 in 2001), 1-0 vs. Iowa (lone meeting in 1996), 0-1 vs. LSU (lone meeting in 1998), 6-2-1 vs. Michigan, 4-1 vs. Oklahoma and 30-7 vs. Stanford (2-1 in 2001).

UCLA Softball NCAA History
With its selection to the 2001 NCAA Tournament field, UCLA has been invited to 18 of a possible 20 Regional Tournaments, and has now advanced to 18 Women's College World Series. The Bruins have won eight NCAA (1982-84-85-88-89-90-82-99) and nine total National Championships (AIAW, 1978), and have played in the NCAA Championship game a record 14 times. UCLA won the 1995 NCAA Championship, but its participation in that tournament was later vacated by the NCAA. The Bruins were not invited to the NCAA Tournament on two occasions, in 1986, and in 1998, a year in which UCLA was ineligible for postseason play.

Bruin Basics
Last year's NCAA runner-up, the 2001 Bruins have benefitted from the return of two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year Stacey Nuveman, who returned to Westwood after sitting out the 2000 collegiate season in order to play for the U.S. Olympic Team. Nuveman was the starting catcher on the gold medal team in Sydney, Australia, last fall. A solid freshman class has also reaped big rewards for the Bruins, as freshman pitcher Keira Goerl has taken over UCLA's No. 1 starter spot since Amanda Freed was diagnosed with a forearm injury on April 16. Eight Bruins, including Nuveman (first team), Freed (first team) and Goerl (second team) were named All-Pac-10. Joining that trio were sophomores 3B/C Tairia Mims and All-America shortstop Natasha Watley on the first team, freshman 1B/DP Claire Sua on the second team, and senior DP/P Courtney Dale and freshman OF Stephanie Ramos as honorable mention selections.

The best pitcher in the nation when she hurled UCLA to an NCAA Championship in 1999, Dale is nearly recovered from off-season surgery on her right (pitching) shoulder. She saw significant time in the circle during the second half of the Pac-10 schedule, including a 1-0 win on May 12 at Arizona State. Dale is 8-0 with a 0.77 ERA in 2001.

Nuveman Named Pac-10 Player of the Year
For the second time in her career, UCLA junior catcher Stacey Nuveman has earned Pac-10 Player of the Year honors, it was announced on May 14. Nuveman finished the regular season leading the Pac-10 in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Additionally, she ranked second in the Conference in doubles, RBIs and walks while also ranking third in total bases, and fifth in home runs. Nuveman was honored as Pac-10 Player of the Week twice this season, giving her seven in her career. She first won Pac-10 Player of the Year honors as a sophomore in 1999, a year in which the Bruins won their most recent NCAA Championship.

Watley's Hitting Streak Snapped, But Record-Setting Continues
Sophomore All-America shortstop Natasha Watley put together a 32-game hitting streak earlier this season (March 2-May 2), a streak that is tied for the fifth-longest in NCAA Division I history. In addition, Watley now has 51 steals this season, extending her UCLA single-season record. That total leads the Pac-10 and is third on the conference's all-time single-season list. Watley has also set a new UCLA record for runs scored in a season with 75, and is just five hits shy of tying Christie Ambrosi's single-season UCLA record of 103 hits, set in 1999.

Watley is one of two Bruin starters hitting over .400. Her .421 season batting average trails only Stacey Nuveman, includes a team-high five triples, and ranks 13th on the NCAA Division I statistics list. She also ranks 13th in the NCAA in steals per game. Her record-setting freshman campaign included team highs of a .426 batting average and stealing 32 bases on 37 attempts. In addition to setting a new Bruin single-season record for stolen bases and taking over the UCLA career lead in that category, Watley set an NCAA Division I postseason record with four steals against Canisius in UCLA's postseason opener on May 18, 2000. Her current career stolen base total is 83 swipes, ranking 10th on the Pac-10's all-time list. Watley has been named first-team All-Region and All-Pac-10 this year.

Head Coach Sue Enquist
The 2001 season marks Sue Enquist's 13th campaign as head coach of the Bruin softball program. It is her 22nd year as part of UCLA's softball coaching staff and her 26th year of involvement with the program as either a coach or player. Enquist has a 638-120-1 (.841) coaching record and 1,065 wins in her Bruin softball career as a player, assistant coach and head coach, combined. As a player from 1975-78, Enquist became UCLA's first All-American while establishing the Bruin career batting average record of .401. She is still the only UCLA player to complete her career with a batting average over .400.

She's Baaack!: Nuveman Moves Up NCAA Career Lists
With 19 home runs this season, Bruin slugger Stacey Nuveman currently has 70 career home runs, giving her fourth place on the NCAA's all-time list. Nuveman has the best career home run total of any non-Arizona player. Jenny Dalton is next on the list with 76 career home runs (see page 7 of notes).

Through 64 games, Nuveman has walked 68 times (22 intentional walks), equivalent to 30% of her total plate appearances and a 1.1 per-game average that contributes to an impressive .613 on-base percentage. Nuveman is fourth among active players on the NCAA's career walks list, and has become the second Bruin in history to record more than 200 career RBIs, with 235, the sixth-best total in NCAA Division I history. She is the active leader on the NCAA career list in that category.

Nuveman returned to the Bruins in 2001 after missing the 2000 collegiate season in order to play for the U.S. Olympic Team. Despite the fact that she is in her fifth year as a Bruin, Nuveman is considered an athletic junior in 2001 and has remaining collegiate eligibility for the 2002 season.

Bruins Dominate NCAA Statistics (most recent NCAA stats are through games of May 13)
UCLA's 55-5 record translates to a .917 winning percentage, ranking second among NCAA Division I schools. That is just one of several categories where the Bruins rank in the national top-10, as the team batting average of .340 is tied for second, the team fielding percentage of .974 ranks sixth and the team's 0.92 ERA is ninth (through games of May 13).

Individually, four Bruins rank in the current NCAA Statistical Leaders: batting average (5. Nuveman, .450, 13. Watley, .425), RBIs (3. Nuveman, 1.15/gm, 5. Mims, 1.10/gm), home runs (11. Nuveman, 0.28/gm, 16. Mims, 0.25/gm), stolen bases (13. Watley, 0.77/gm) and ERA (5. Freed, 0.51).

UCLA's 4-3 win at No. 12 Washington on May 2 gave the Bruins the seventh 50-win season in program history. UCLA has achieved the 60-win plateau twice, in 1990 and 1999, both years in which the Bruins won an NCAA Championship.

Freed Focused in Return to Circle
On Friday, May 18, junior P/OF Amanda Freed returned to the circle for the first time since April 14 and pitched five innings of one-hit softball in UCLA's 9-0 victory over Cal State Northridge, striking out seven without allowing a walk. Freed also earned the five-inning complete game shutout win in Sunday's Regional Championship game against San Diego State, allowing just one hit and striking out six. Freed was named to the Regional All-Tournament Team.

Freed spent last summer as a traveling alternate with the U.S. Olympic Team, and returned to the Bruins this spring as the same dominant pitcher who tossed UCLA to last year's NCAA Championship Game before being diagnosed with an injury to her right (pitching) forearm on April 16. Prior to her injury, Freed pitched 123.0 innings with a 17-3 record and one save. Including her numbers from last week's NCAA Regional, she has now struck out 151 and walked 21, good for a impressive K:BB ratio of 7.2:1. The Bruins have allowed just 14 earned runs with Freed in the circle for a 0.47 ERA, good for fifth in the nation. Offensively, Freed is hitting .305 with three home runs, eight doubles and three triples for 26 RBI. She has stolen 16 bases on 17 tries. This year, she was named first-team All-Region, and was named first-team All-Pac-10 for the second consecutive season. She was a second-team All-Pac-10 honoree as a true freshman in 1999.

Freshman Firepower
Claire Sua has started all 64 of UCLA's games and is third on the team with a .383 batting average. She has nine home runs -- including two grand slams -- 50 RBIs and 25 runs scored. Sua entered the lineup as the designated player in UCLA's first five games (at the Early Bird Classic) before making her defensive debut at first base in the doubleheader at Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 7. Sua was named to the All-Pac-10 second team this year.

Freshman outfielder Stephanie Ramos started UCLA's first 29 games before breaking the fourth metacarpal bone in her left hand. She was hitting .405 with seven doubles, 12 RBIs and 22 runs scored, and had 18 putouts and an assist when the injury occurred. She returned to the Bruin starting lineup on April 6 against Arizona State and is currently hitting .340 with nine doubles, a triple and two home runs. She was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection this season, as well as being named to the NCAA Region All-Tournament Team.

Marcel Torres has started 14 games, with the majority coming in Pac-10 play. Torres earned a single in her first collegiate at-bat, entering the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning in the first game of the Cal State Fullerton doubleheader. Torres hit her first career home run on Feb. 16 against Portland State, and is hitting .362 with 36 games played, two doubles and two home runs.

Baserunning specialists Amanda Simpson and Julie Hoshizaki both see regular game action, with Simpson stealing two bases with 20 runs scored. She has appeared as a pinch runner in 56 of UCLA's 60 games. Hoshizaki has pinch-run in 43 games with 15 runs scored.

Forget Waldo, Where's Tairia?
Sophomore Tairia Mims is on the field and producing impressive offensive numbers from the No. 3 spot in the lineup, but you never know where you'll find her on the field defensively. Regardless, Mims has earned All-Pac-10, All-Region and NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player recognition this season.

Mims has started all 64 games for UCLA: 14 games in right field, 12 games at first base, 27 at third base and 11 games behind the plate. UCLA's starting first baseman a year ago, Mims was a catcher and third baseman in high school and ASA ball. Since coming to UCLA, she has learned first base and right field, making her one of Sue Enquist's most versatile athletes defensively.

At the 2000 WCWS, Mims had the highest batting average of any player whose team played more than the minimum two games (.600, 6-for-10, 1.000 SLG%). This season, Mims was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for Feb. 12-18 after hitting six home runs with 19 RBI during that stretch. For the 2001 season, Mims currently has a .371 average with 14 doubles, two triples, 15 home runs, 66 RBI, 49 runs scored and 16 walks, for a .436 on-base percentage and a .710 slugging percentage. In comparison, she totalled nine home runs, 32 RBI and eight doubles last year as a freshman.

Goerl Power
A second-team All-Pac-10 selection,Keira Goerl (pronounced like 'Carol') has pitched in 32 of UCLA's games and has a 1.19 ERA with 153 strikeouts in 189 innings pitched. Goerl pitched a five-inning perfect game against UC Riverside on March 6, and all 14 innings on April 13 against Washington. Batters are hitting .176 against Goerl, and she is 26-2 on the 2001 season. She was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for April 23-29 after pitching 19 scoreless innings and allowing just four hits with 12 strikeouts (vs. UCR, Cal and Stanford) and allowing opposing batters to hit just .063.

Between the time Amanda Freed was diagnosed with a forearm injury on April 16 and the end of the regular season, Goerl took over UCLA's top spot in the pitching rotation, and has accumulated a 9-2 record as the pitcher of record in 11 of a possible 15 games. On a similar note, in that 15-game span, Goerl pitched 67 of a possible 98 innings for UCLA.

Sophomore Set
UCLA's defensive set in its final regular season games in Arizona and in two if its four NCAA Regional contests featured an all-roommate infield, which also happens to be the Bruins entire sophomore class. Around the horn: 3B Toria Auelua, SS Natasha Watley, 2B Monique Mejia and 1B Tairia Mims.

Injury Report
Junior Casey Hiraiwa tore a tendon in her left hand during UCLA's Alumnae game on March 24, and had surgery on April 6. She returned to the lineup as a pinch-runner during last week's NCAA Regional.

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