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No. 3 UCLA Heads to No. 9 Washington

Mar 24, 2022
Redshirt senior shortstop Briana Perez leads the Pac-12 with five triples (ties season high).

LOS ANGELES – The No. 3 UCLA softball travels to Seattle for a three-game set versus No. 9 Washington at Husky Softball Stadium beginning Friday, March 25 at 5 p.m. PT. The Bruins (25-3) and Huskies (20-7) square off for game two at 3 p.m. PT on Saturday, March 26 and for game three at 4 p.m. PT on Sunday, March 27. The first two contests will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks and game three will air on ESPNU.

Venue: Husky Softball Stadium
First Pitch: 5 p.m. PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
TV Talent: Elise Woodward (PxP), Jenna Becerra (Analyst)
Live Stats

Venue: Husky Softball Stadium
First Pitch: 3 p.m. PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
TV Talent: Elise Woodward (PxP), Jenna Becerra (Analyst), Danielle Lawrie (Analyst)
Live Stats

Venue: Husky Softball Stadium
First Pitch: 4 p.m. PT
TV Talent: Mark Neely (PxP), Danielle Lawrie (Analyst)
Live Stats

The Bruins took three out of four in last season's series with the Huskies and have won nine out of the last 10 meetings. UCLA has not lost at Husky Softball Stadium since the 2017 season. The two storied programs have met in the Women's College World Series on five occasions (UCLA leads, 3-2), with their most recent run-in ending with Rachel Garcia's tenth-inning walk-off homer in 2019 to advance the Bruins to the Championship Series against Oklahoma where UCLA would inevitably take home national title No. 13. UCLA and Washington were picked to finish first and second, respectively, in the Pac-12 Coaches Preseason Poll.

UCLA shutout then-No. 9 Arizona in all three games last week behind two complete games from Megan Faraimo and Holly Azevedo and a solid relief appearance by Lauren Shaw. It was the first time the Bruins shutout the Wildcats in three consecutive games dating back to the 1988 and 1989 seasons, which both ended in national titles. Thirty-one of the 63 outs the Bruins' pitching staff recorded in the series came via strikeouts. The Wildcats entered last week as the Pac-12 leader in batting average at .379, and after being silenced to just five hits over 21 innings, their average plummeted to .348. The Bruins' batting average leapfrogged Arizona to overtake the top spot with a .352 clip.

Holly Azevedo threw her second no-hitter of the season and of her career in game two of the Arizona series last Sunday. It was the Bruins' fifth no-hitter of the season, marking their most in a single season since the 1994 campaign when DeeDee Weiman and B'Ann Burns combined for 10 no-no's. Azevedo notched a career-high 13 strikeouts in the process for the fourth double-digit strikeout performance of her career all of which coming this season. Her performance marked UCLA's first no-no over a top-10 opponent (NFCA poll) since April 11, 2009, when Megan Langenfeld no-hit No. 3 Washington. Azevedo was also the owner of UCLA's third no-hitter in the UCLA-Arizona series history and the first for the Bruins since Lisa Longaker's no-no on April 4, 1988.

Azevedo's first no-hitter of the year came on opening night versus CSUN on Feb. 10. Azevedo is the 23rd pitcher in UCLA's illustrious history of hurlers to record multiple no-hitters in her career.

Azevedo's performance comes on the heels of a week filled with perfection. Lauren Shaw (2.0 IP) and Megan Faraimo (3.0 IP) combined to throw the 21st perfect game in UCLA history against Pennsylvania on March 10. The very next game against CSU Bakersfield, Faraimo retired all 15 Roadrunner batters on strikes to throw back-to-back perfectos and the third solo perfect game of her career. Faraimo needed just 59 pitches (52 strikes) to achieve perfection against the Roadrunners, throwing only seven balls, the first of which coming to the third batter in the third inning. Faraimo opened the game with 30 consecutive strikes and averaged 3.96 pitches per batter on the way to recording UCLA's 22nd perfect game in program history. 

A week before those two perfectos, Faraimo tossed the Bruins' first perfect game of the season versus Fresno State on March 3. The Bruins have thrown their three perfect games this season -- tying a record set in 1985 for most in a season -- all within eight days of each other. Before this season, the previous smallest margin of time between perfect games was 14 days 1982 (Debbie Doom vs. Wyoming on May 15 and Tracy Compton/Debbie Doom combined vs. Western Michigan on May 29).

Faraimo ranks second all-time in UCLA history in both solo perfect games with three and total perfect games (including combined) with four. Debbie Doom is first with five solo and six total perfectos, respectively. 

The Bruins are now riding an 18-game winning streak for their longest stretch of W's since the 2019 season when they won 19 in a row from March 3 through April 7. Eight of the Bruins' victories in that span have been mercy-rules. UCLA's last 20-game winning streak came in 2018 when it opened the season with 25 consecutive victories for the longest winning streak in the Kelly Inouye-Perez head coaching era. The Bruins have rattled off 20-game winning streaks 11 times in the program's 47-year history. The program's longest winning streaks of 35 consecutive games came in the 1999 and 2001 seasons. 

In this current 18-game stretch, the Bruins have five members of their lineup hitting above .400 (Maya Brady just outside at .396) and are averaging 8.22 runs per game as well as 1.39 home runs per game. Shortstop Briana Perez leads the team with a .429 batting average and .980 slugging percentage in that span. UCLA's pitching staff has a collective 0.94 earned run average is averaging a 11.75 strikeout per seven innings ratio.

Holly Azevedo's no-hitter earned both the first Pac-12 Player of the Week and Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week awards of her career, the conference office announced this Monday. This is the third time in program history a UCLA player won both awards in the same week (Rachel Garcia: March 19, 2019; Lisa Fernandez: April 12, 1993). Azevedo's accolades come a week after Briana Perez and Megan Faraimo won the same respective awards. This is the 23rd time UCLA has won both such conference awards in the same week since Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week was instituted in 1992. 

Co-aces Megan Faraimo and Holly Azevedo have led the Bruins' pitching staff to a first -place Pac-12 ranking in all of the following categories: ERA (1.04), strikeouts (269), K/7 (10.76), shutouts (14), hits allowed (91) and runs allowed (34). Faraimo and Azevedo rank first and second in the Pac-12 in strikeouts per seven innings and are tied for second with 11 wins apiece. Faraimo and Azevedo are the only pitching duo in the country with double-digit wins apiece this season. They lead all Pac-12 starting pitcher duos with 22 combined wins, and rank fourth nationally behind Auburn's Maddie Penta and Shelby Lowe (24), USC Upstate's Hannah Houge and Alyssa Kelly (24) and Florida State's Kathryn Sandercock and Danielle Watson (23). Faraimo and Azevedo became the 17th and 18th pitchers in program history to reach 50 career victories earlier this season.

Azevedo's 13 strikeouts versus Arizona helped surpass her former season-high strikeout total of 88 over 115.2 innings in 2018. This season, she's now at 92 strikeouts in less than half of the innings load at (57.1).

Megan Faraimo hit a screaming line drive to left field for the first home run of her career in the top of the second inning of the series finale versus Arizona last Monday. It took 2.28 seconds for the ball to clear the fence (unofficial time). Faraimo, who has been inserted into the Bruins' lineup in eight of the last 12 games, looks to join other UCLA greats who dominated in both the circle and batter's box. Two-time Honda Cup award winner Rachel Garcia and 2021 UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Megan Langenfeld and three-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Fernandez are charter members of the "Pitchers Who Rake" club. Garcia finished her career with a 99-17 record, 1.43 ERA , 43 homers and a .337 batting average. Langenfeld hit for .385 (.527 as a senior in 2010) and 39 homers and collected a 53-9 record and 1.42 ERA in her career. Fernandez recorded a .382 batting average and 15 homers (.510 average and 11 HR as a senior in 1993) while pitching for an astounding 0.22 ERA for a career 93-7 record.

Briana Perez's leadoff triple in the bottom of the sixth inning of game two versus Arizona marked her fifth three-bagger of the season (three in last 10 games) and matched her former season high of five in 2021 which led UCLA a year ago. The last time a Bruin had more than five triples in a season was Andrea Duran with seven in 2006. Duran holds the program single-season record for triples of eight set in 2005. Perez now ranks tied for third on UCLA's career triples list with 17 (Yvonne Gutierrez and Andrea Duran). She need four more triples to tie Janice Parks and Natasha Watley's for first place with 21.
Perez's two runs in the Arizona series surpassed Delaney Spaulding for sole possession of second place on UCLA's all-time runs scored list with 240. She trails Natasha Watley by 12 runs to tie and 13 to surpass for the runs scored crown. 

The Shelly Carlin UCLA Head Softball Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez is three wins away from career victory No. 700 at the helm of the program. She currently boasts a 697-183-1 (.791) career record as head coach. She will become the 40th active head coach to join the 700-win club and just the 10th member in that club to have a .700+ winning percentage.

Freshman Savannah Pola has been penciled in at the No. 3 spot in Inouye-Perez's lineup card in 18 of the last 20 games since redshirt senior Aaliyah Jordan went down with an injury. Since that adjustment, Pola ranks second on the squad with 21 hits (.396 average) and 23 RBI. Pola currently leads the conference with 11 doubles and all Pac-12 freshmen with 30 hits and 30 RBI.

Redshirt senior Kinsley Washington leads the Pac-12 with 31 runs scored and paces the Bruins with a .425 batting average as the team's leadoff hitter. Washington surpassed her previous season-high for homers of three in 2021 just six games into this season as well as her previous season-high for extra-base hits of 14 in 2019 in less than half of those games played (62 GP in 2019/25 GP in 2022).

In addition to being the battery mate to Faraimo's two perfect games and Azevedo's no-hitter last week, redshirt senior Delanie Wisz has found her groove the last 10 games hitting four of her six homers and knocking in 12 of her 26 RBI on the season in that stretch. Wisz has reached base safely in 19 consecutive games and every game of the Bruins' 18-game winning streak. Before her hitless effort versus CSU Bakersfield on March 12 (only one at-bat and a walk), Wisz had recorded an RBI in 10 consecutive games, including four multi-RBI performances.

UCLA has seven hitters with a .400+ batting average, led by redshirt sophomore utility Seneca Curo at .615 (8-for-13). Curo, who was hitting seventh in the lineup in game one versus Arizona, came through with two clutch RBI singles to left field. She also recorded two sacrifice flies in the series to put her at 10 RBI over the Bruins' last ten games. 

Briana Perez owns a .536 batting average and a team-best 16 RBI, 1.250 slugging percentage and five stolen bases over UCLA's last 10. Her 15 base hits consisted of two doubles, three triples and four home runs. Perez also made stellar defensive plays in the Arizona series with an over-the-shoulder grab in the first inning of game one and a throw on the run in the sixth of game three.

Freshman catcher Jayla Castro has also found pop in her bat lately, blasting the first two homers of her career in this stretch. Castro has made three starts and appeared in three other games over the last 10.