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No. 3/3 UCLA Begins Journey Back to OKC

Feb 9, 2022
Maya Brady

LOS ANGELES – The Bruins will open their 2022 campaign with five games in three days, beginning with a three-game tournament at home on Thursday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. (PT) versus CSUN at Easton Stadium and a double-header on Friday, Feb. 11, against UC San Diego at 3 p.m. and Nevada at 5:30 p.m. All three games will be available for viewing on UCLA's live stream and listening on the UCLA LeanPlayer.

To close Opening Week, the Bruins head to Orange County on Saturday, Feb. 12, to compete at the Mark Campbell Invitational at Bill Barber Park in Irvine, Calif., with a pair of games against RV/- Mississippi State and defending national champion No. 1/1 Oklahoma. Game times versus the Bulldogs and Sooners are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The two contests can be watched with a subscription on

GAME 1: Thursday, Feb. 10, vs. CSUN
Venue: Easton Stadium
First Pitch: 7 p.m. PT
Watch: UCLA Live Stream
Listen: UCLA Lean Player
Talent: Darren Preston
Live Stats

GAME 2: Friday, Feb. 11, vs. UC San Diego 
Venue: Easton Stadium
First Pitch: 3 p.m. PT
Watch: UCLA Live Stream
Listen: UCLA Lean Player
Talent: Nick Koop
Live Stats

GAME 3: Friday, Feb. 11, vs. Nevada
Venue: Easton Stadium
First Pitch: 5:30 p.m. PT
Watch: UCLA Live Stream
Listen: UCLA Lean Player
Talent: Nick Koop
Live Stats

GAME 4: Saturday, Feb. 12, vs. RV/- Mississippi State
Venue: Bill Barber Park (Irvine, Calif.)
First Pitch: 1 p.m. PT
Watch: FloSoftball ($)
Talent: Maura Sheridan and Jillian Gearin
Live Stats

GAME 4: Saturday, Feb. 12, vs. No. 1/1 Oklahoma
Venue: Bill Barber Park (Irvine, Calif.)
First Pitch: 4 p.m. PT
Watch: FloSoftball ($)
Talent: Maura Sheridan and Jillian Gearin
Live Stats

UCLA is 13-2 on Opening Day under head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez (since 2007) and has won 11 season-openers in a row. The Bruins defeated Fresno State in 2021's opener by a score of 7-0 behind six shutout innings and 13 strikeouts from Megan Faraimo. Bubba Nickles and Rachel Garcia each powered home runs to help UCLA to a six-run first inning.

CSUN: The Bruins own a 47-10 advantage in the all-time series, winning seven consecutive games against the Matadors. In that span, UCLA has a 56-10 (+46) run differential. In the two programs' last meeting, the Bruins run-ruled CSUN 14-2 in six innings behind a pair of three-RBI performances by Kelli Godin and Briana Perez. Rachel Garcia tossed a one-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts.

UC San Diego: The Bruins and Tritons will meet for the second time since UC San Diego joined the Big West as part of its transition to Division I athletics in July, 2020. UCLA defeated UC San Diego 7-1 on March 9 last season. Megan Faraimo struck out 12 batters in her complete-game victory. Bubba Nickles and Maya Brady each recorded two hits and two RBIs apiece.

Nevada: Friday will mark the first meeting in nine years between the Bruins and Wolf Pack. The two programs' last matchup came on Feb. 14, 2013, which resulted in a 13-4 victory for the Blue & Gold in just five innings. UCLA owns a 13-3 advantage in the all-time series, winning all 13 games in a row. The Wolf Pack won the first three games of the all-time series beginning on May 2, 1975, and ending May 5, 1977.

Mississippi State: The Bruins own a 3-0 advantage against the Bulldogs. UCLA and Mississippi State last played each other 16 years ago at the Long Beach State Invitational on March 10 and 12 in 2006. UCLA won both games, 2-0 and 3-0, respectively.

Oklahoma: UCLA will rematch with the NFCA and USA Softball unanimous No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners for the 18th time in series history. This will mark the earliest meeting between the Bruins and Sooners since Feb. 10, 2008, and 10th all-time meeting in the month of February. Most recently, then-No. 2 UCLA lost to No. 1-Oklahoma, 10-3, on June 5, 2021, in an elimination game for the Bruins at the Women's College World Series. 2021 NFCA Freshman of the Year Tiare Jennings put the Sooners over the Bruins with a go-ahead two-RBI double in the bottom of the fourth inning. Then-sophomore Mackenzie Donihoo went deep twice in the contest.

UCLA is the only softball program to have won NCAA Championships across four decades since the organization adopted the women's collegiate athletics in 1982. UCLA has won a championship in five decades including the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) championship won in 1978. The Bruins will attempt to make it five straight decades of bringing an NCAA natty back home to Westwood.

UCLA was represented in all four of collegiate softball's major preseason polls, earning No. 3 spots in both the USA Today/NFCA and Softball Collegiate Preseason polls as well as No. 4 slots in the D1Softball and Softball America polls. UCLA hauled in 700 points in the NFCA poll and 549 points in the USA Softball poll. This is the 13th time UCLA has entered the season in the top three of the NFCA preseason poll since the organization began announcing the preseason poll in 1997. Additionally, this is the 20th time the Bruins have started in the NFCA's top 10 since 1997. Oklahoma is one of four schools, along with UCLA, to appear in every NFCA preseason poll. This marks the fourth straight year UCLA has been ranked within the top five of the USA Softball preseason poll as well as the 12th overall time the Bruins have appeared in the top 10 in the preseason poll's 20-year history.

Outfielder Aaliyah Jordan, pitcher/first baseman Megan Faraimo and infielder Briana Perez were listed amongst 50 student-athletes on the 2022 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Watch List, the organization announced on Jan. 26. UCLA is tied with four other programs (Alabama, Florida, Michigan and Oklahoma State) with three student-athletes represented while Oklahoma leads the nation with four. The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award – recognized as the most distinguished individual honor in NCAA Division I Softball – has been previously awarded to UCLA's Stacey Nuveman in 2002 and Rachel Garcia twice in 2018 and 2019. UCLA softball is the only program to receive the honor three times. Faraimo and Garcia (2017-21) were finalists for 2021 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year a season ago.

UCLA led in representation at the USA Women's National Team Selection Trials from Jan. 1-6 in Vero Beach, Fla., with seven members of the program – past and present – accepting invitations. A mixture of three current Bruins (Aaliyah Jordan, Maya Brady and Megan Faraimo) and four program alumnae (Delaney Spaulding, Rachel Garcia, Bubba Nickles and Ally Carda) made up the 45-player invitee list. 
    2022 USA Women's National Team: Ally Carda, Bubba Nickles and Megan Faraimo (alternate)
    2022 Canada Cup Roster: Ally Carda, Megan Faraimo and Aaliyah Jordan 
    2022 Japan All-Star Series Roster: Ally Carda, Megan Faraimo and Maya Brady

The reigning 2021 Pac-12 Champion UCLA Bruins were tabbed as favorites by the conference in the 2022 Pac-12 Softball Preseason Coaches Poll, receiving seven of nine first-place votes and 63 total votes to secure their spot atop the poll for the second straight season and a league-record 12th time overall. 

UCLA was 30-2 at home last year, posting its most wins at Easton Stadium since the 2014 season when the team went 31-2. The Bruins have not lost back-to-back games at home since they were swept by Utah from March 17-19 in 2017. In its 2021 home splits, UCLA swung for a .351 batting average and averaged 6.63 runs per game. Ten of Maya Brady's 14 home runs and 10 of Briana Perez's 13 home runs came in the friendly confines of Easton Stadium. The Bruins' pitching staff limited opponents to a .146 batting average and 0.94 runs per game while averaging 9.60 strikeouts per seven innings. 

The Bruins lost Olympians Rachel Garcia and Bubba Nickles to graduation following the end of the 2021 season. Garcia, who was a two-time Honda Cup winner and three-time NFCA First Team All-American, is now a volunteer assistant with the San Diego State softball program working alongside Aztec head coach and former Bruin great Stacey Nuveman. Garcia posted an 18-3 record with a 1.39 earned run average last season. Garcia was second on the team with a .342 batting average in 2021, 35 runs batted in and 13 home runs. Nickles, who was a two-time Pac-12 First Team member, competed in 27 of 54 games last season. Nickles will be helping the team as a a graduate manager until March. She will be leaving to participate with Garcia in the upcoming Athletes Unlimited softball season and prepare with Team USA.

2021 RECAP
• 47-7 record, .870 winning percentage
• Season ended at the hands of Alabama and Oklahoma in the team's return to a sixth-straight Women's College World Series
• Finished the season ranked No. 5 in both the NFCA and USA Softball polls
• UCLA ranked first in the nation in shutouts [23 - Faraimo (8), Garcia (7)], strikeout-to-walk ration (6.25), second in WHIP (0.83) and third in earned run average (1.43)
• The Bruins ranked second in the Pac-12 in doubles (80) and stolen bases (17) and third in batting average (.314), home runs (76), slugging percentage (.548) and runs (325).
• In the circle, Megan Faraimo ranked second in the nation with a 14.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio, ninth in the nation and first in the Pac-12 with a 1.10 earned run average and seventh in the nation and first in the Pac-12 in hits allowed per seven innings (3.46). Rachel Garcia ranked second in the conference with a 1.39 ERA and Holly Azevedo was sixth with a 1.99 ERA. Faraimo also ranked second in the country and first in the conference with a 0.59 WHIP.
• Maya Brady and Delanie Wisz each launched 14 home runs, tied for the seventh-most in the conference. Brady and Briana Perez ranked sixth and seventh in the Pac-12 with .708 and .700 slugging percentages, respectively.
• Perez was 16th in the nation and second in the conference with five triples a season ago.
• The Bruins won eight conference weekly honors in 2021. Garcia was a two-time Pac-12 Player of the Week (April 12, May 10) and three-time Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week (March 23, April 19 and April 26). Brady took home Pac-12 Player of the Week honors on March 23 and Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors on March 23 and May 17.
• Aaliyah Jordan finished the 2021 season with 57 career doubles, which is fourth in UCLA history. Jordan needs just six more doubles to tie GiOnna DiSalvatore for first on UCLA's all-time doubles list at 65. Jordan's .388 career batting average and .678 slugging percentage is sixth-best, her .482 on-base percentage is fourth-best and her 188 runs batted in are tied for eighth-most in program history.
• Holly Azevedo enters the season with a 42-2 career record and 2.06 earned run average across 312.1 innings pitched. Azevedo had records in 2018 (15-0) and 2020 (8-0).