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UCLA Softball Announces Signing Class

Nov 14, 2020

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UCLA head softball coach Kelly Inouye-Perez has announced a five-player signing class, as Kate Blunt (Ladera Ranch, Calif./Tesoro HS/Batbusters Lara-Portesi 18U), Jayla Castro (Rocklin, Calif./Rocklin HS/California Breeze – Birch 18 Gold), Lauren Hatch (Sugar Land, Texas/Kempner HS/Impact Gold Jackson 18U), Savannah Pola (Santa Ana, Calif./Hector Godinez Fundamental HS/Athletics Mercado) and Taylor Stephens (Lynwood, Calif./Gahr HS/Firecrackers TJ 18U) have signed their National Letters of Intent.
Blunt, a right-handed hitting infielder/outfielder, has been a member of the junior varsity baseball team at Tesoro HS. In 2019, she appeared in 30 games, posting a .286 batting average and eight runs batted in, while appearing in 11 games on the mound, striking out 15 in 14 2/3 innings. Blunt, ranked 83rd among infielders and 106th overall in the 2021 Extra Inning Softball Rankings, was named to the 2019 USA Women's National Baseball Team. She pitched in three games, striking out four in 2 1/3 innings and helping the Red, White and Blue to gold at the COPABE Women's Pan American Championships.
"Kate is an exciting talent who has experience in both baseball and softball," Inouye-Perez said. "She has a strong arm and great athleticism in the infield."
Castro, a right-handed hitter who can play catcher, outfield and third base, is ranked sixth among catchers and 13th overall in the 2021 Extra Inning Softball rankings. As a sophomore at Rocklin HS in 2019, Castro hit .328 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 25 games. Defensively, she did not commit an error in 116 chances. As a junior in her COVID-19 shortened season, Castro hit .269 with a homer and five RBI in eight games. She helped her travel ball team, the California Breeze, to a strong performance at the USA Softball Gold Nationals, hitting .353 with five homers and 14 runs batted in.
"Jayla is a strong quarterback behind the plate with a high softball IQ," Inouye-Perez said. "She is also an explosive athlete that will add power to our lineup."
Hatch, a left-handed hitting outfielder, was named All-State Softball Second Team in 2019 at Kempner High School. The speedster hit .609 with 10 doubles, 13 stolen bases, two home runs and 26 runs batted in. Hatch is ranked 25th among outfielders by Extra Inning Softball and 55th overall. Hatch also plays on the Kempner basketball team, appearing in all 32 games in 2019-2020, averaging 4.7 points per game.
"We look forward to the addition of Lauren to the Bruin program," Inouye-Perez said. "Not only is Lauren a high achiever on the field, but also in the classroom. On the field, her speed is what separates her from the rest. Lauren has the ability to track down balls in the outfield and will be a difference maker on the base paths."
Pola, a left-handed hitting second base/outfielder, is ranked fourth among infielders by Extra Inning Softball, sixth overall and 10th overall by Softball America. She was nearly unstoppable during her COVID-19 shortened season, batting .560 as a junior with three home runs and 13 RBI in 2020. That was after Pola posted a .577 average, four homers and 30 RBI during her sophomore campaign, as Godinez won the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 title. Pola was named Extra Inning Softball's California Sophomore of the Year, which has been bestowed on a quartet of Bruins over the last decade (Holly Azevedo, 2015; Johanna Grauer, 2012; Gabrielle Maurice, 2011; Ally Carda, 2009). She was also named All-CIF, All-County and All-Golden West League as a sophomore.
"Savannah is a steady defender in the infield and can hit for power and consistency from the left side," Inouye-Perez said. "We look forward to Savannah impacting our lineup immediately."
Stephens, a right-handed hitting infielder, is 22nd among infielders according to the Extra Inning Softball rankings and 26th overall. Stephens hit .463 for Gahr HS in 2019 with 34 runs batted in and 30 runs scored in 24 games, adding 16 stolen bases and four home runs. She helped the Gladiators to an undefeated San Gabriel Valley League season and was named to the All-Area Second Team. Stephens, who wears No. 42, is a distant relative of Jackie Robinson.
"Taylor is an explosive athlete with great power and speed," Inouye-Perez said. "She can play multiple positions on the field and her versatility will be a strength for our program. I look forward to adding her to our Bruin culture."