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No. 3 UCLA to Host Three-Game Series With No. 12 Oregon

Mar 31, 2022
Megan Faraimo

LOS ANGELES – The No. 3 UCLA softball team returns to Easton Stadium to open another top-25 match up with No. 12 Oregon. The Bruins (28-3) and Ducks (24-5) play games one and two of their three-game set on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. PT. They close the series on Sunday with a 12 p.m. PT first pitch. All games will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

Megan Faraimo leads UCLA in the circle with a Pac-12-best 13-1 record and 171 strikeouts, and Briana Perez leads all UCLA hitters with an .830 slugging percentage, 19 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases.

GAME 1: Friday, April 1
Venue: Easton Stadium
First Pitch: 7 p.m. PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
TV Talent: Tracy Warren (PxP), Amanda Freed (Analyst)
Audio Talent: Darren Preston 
Live Stats

GAME 2: Saturday, April 2
Venue: Easton Stadium
First Pitch: 7 p.m. PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
TV Talent: Tracy Warren (PxP), Amanda Freed (Analyst)
Audio Talent: Ghizal Hasan
Live Stats

GAME 3: Sunday, April 3
Venue: Easton Stadium
First Pitch: 12 p.m. PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
TV Talent: Tracy Warren (PxP), Amanda Freed (Analyst)
Audio Talent: Darren Preston 
Live Stats

The Bruins split their first run-in with the Ducks last season at two neutral site games in Tempe, Ariz., and won three out of four contests during the Pac-12 regular-season schedule after being shutout in the series-opener. Rachel Garcia twirled a complete-game shutout in the 3-0 victory in game two and Holly Azevedo earned the complete-game , 9-3 victory with a then-career-best eight strikeouts. Briana Perez hit a three-run homer in the series finale to help UCLA to a 6-2 win.

UCLA has swept back-to-back top-10 opponents in then-No. 9 Arizona and No. 9 Washington to open its Pac-12 slate of competition. This marks the first time UCLA has swept the season series versus two top-10 Pac-12 opponents since 2006 when the Bruins won all six meetings with Arizona and Arizona State. 

Delanie Wisz, who went 5-for-7 this week against Washington, knocked in the first of three first-inning runs in game one with a double down the right field line. Faraimo would ride those three runs to her ninth complete-game victory of the season. Faraimo fanned eight total batters in the game, including four to the last six hitters. 
In game two, Holly Azevedo rode a 1-0 lead through her 5.1 shutout innings before the Bruins' bats came alive for three insurance runs in the top of the sixth, the first a sacrifice fly to deep center field by freshman Jayla Castro. Faraimo entered in relief for Azevedo in the sixth and retired all five Washington hitters she faced on strikes to end the game and secure UCLA's 20th consecutive win. 
After a two-run first inning featuring a pair of doubles from Briana Perez and Alyssa Garcia, Washington took its first lead in the series in the third inning of game three with a home run by Madison Huskey. The solo shot marked the first time UCLA had trailed in a game past the first inning all month. The Bruins would tie the game in the fifth off two wild pitches by Sarah Willis that allowed Lauren Hatch to score. The next frame, Lauryn Carter pinch ran and stole second base, was knocked over to third by a Thessa Malau'ulu ground out and scored on an error. Wisz launched a solo shot in the seventh to straight-away center field which proved to be a crucial insurance run to bring UCLA's lead to 5-3. After allowing an RBI double to Huskies first baseman Kelley Lynch, Faraimo struck out her next hitter and recorded the final out on a force at third base to end the game.

The Shelly Carlin UCLA Head Softball Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez reached another milestone in the Washington series finale with her 700th career victory at the helm of the program. She currently boasts a 700-183-1 (.792) career record as head coach. She is 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.

In addition to finishing the month of March with an undefeated record, the Bruins are now riding a 21-game winning streak dating back to Feb. 25. Eight of the Bruins' victories in that 21-game 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 21-game stretch, UCLA has trailed past the first inning only twice (Tennessee on Feb. 26; Washington on March 27). The Bruins are averaging 8.11 runs per game and eight Bruins are hitting above .300, led by Delanie Wisz with a .451 batting average. Briana Perez leads UCLA with 54 total bases, 14 extra-base hits, 21 runs and a .931 slugging percentage. During the streak, Maya Brady has hit a team-best eight home runs, followed by Wisz and Perez with seven and six homers, respectively. UCLA's pitching staff has combined for nine complete games and nine shutouts while averaging 11.11 strikeouts per seven innings.

Co-aces Megan Faraimo and Holly Azevedo have led the Bruins pitching staff to a first place ranking in the Pac-12 in all of the following categories: ERA (1.11), strikeouts (292), K/7 (10.43), shutouts (15), hits allowed (11) and runs allowed (40). UCLA's staff leads the Pac-12 and ranks second nationally with a 0.76 WHIP (trails only Oklahoma at 0.74).
Faraimo and Azevedo rank first and second in the Pac-12 in strikeouts per seven innings and wins. Faraimo and Azevedo are one of just six pitching duos in the country and the only one in the Pac-12 with double-digit wins this season. They lead all Pac-12 starting pitcher duos with 25 combined wins, and are tied for second nationally with Auburn's Maddie Penta and Shelby Lowe behind USC Upstate's Hannah Houge and Alyssa Kelly with 29. Faraimo and Azevedo became the 17th and 18th pitchers in program history to reach 50 career victories earlier this season. 
Azevedo is just three wins shy of tying her season-high of 15 set her freshman season in roughly half of the innings load (115.2 in 2020; 63.0 in 2022). This season, she is averaging 10.33 strikeouts per seven innings; her previous season-best mark was 6.95, established during the shortened 2020 campaign. She is also on pace to establish career bests in ERA and opponent batting average this season by a landslide: 1.74 ERA in 2020/1.11 ERA in 2022 ... .207 opp. avg. in 2020/.156 opp. avg. in 2022.

The UCLA pitching staff has held its opponents to just 19 at bats with runners in scoring position over the last 10 games (67 innings). In those 19 at bats, the Bruins have held their opponents to a .105 batting average with only two hits (Fresno State on March 10; Washington on March 25). Faraimo experienced one of her most high leverage situations yet this season in the final four innings of game three versus Washington. She would strand seven runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth. The Huskies had the tying run in scoring position in three of those final four innings.

Holly Azevedo threw her second no-hitter of the season and of her career in game two of the Arizona series on Sunday, March 20. 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 came 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 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. 

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 three runs in the Washington put her at 243 runs scored in her career and solidified her place at second on UCLA's all-time runs scored list. She trails Natasha Watley by nine runs to tie and 10 to surpass for the runs scored crown. Perez is averaging just under one run scored per game this season (0.94).

Briana Perez and Delanie Wisz lead the Bruins with .552 (16-for-29) and .500 (12-for-24) batting averages and three home runs apiece in UCLA's last 10 games. Perez has recorded an extra-base hit in eight of the last 10 games and nine total in that span (notched a double and a triple in game two vs. Arizona on March 20). Perez also leads UCLA with both 14 runs batted in and 14 runs scored. Maya Brady has also recorded a hit in eight of the last 10 games, including two multi-it games versus CSU Bakersfield on March 12 and Arizona on March 19.