A week after getting swept at No. 9 Arizona, things won't get much easier for No. 21 Arizona State. The No. 1 team in the country will make its way into Tempe beginning tonight.
UCLA (32-1, 6-0) hasn’t lost in over a month and they are led by one of, if not the best pitchers in the country. With the Bruins in town, the Sun Devils will go for an upset, which is something they did twice last year. ASU took two out of three from No. 1 Washington to kick off Pac-12 play, then they took a game from then No. 1 UCLA toward the end of the year.
Can the Devils knock off UCLA as a No. 1 team again? We’ll just have to find out. In the meantime, here is a little more to know about the series, and the Bruins.
What Time/Where to Watch
Game 1: Friday, April 5 (5:00 p.m MST on Pac-12 Network)
Game 2: Saturday, April 6 (2:00 p.m. MST on ESPN2)
Game 3: Sunday, April 7 (4:00 p.m. MST on Pac-12 Network)
Player to Watch:
UCLA is led by possibly the best player in the country in redshirt junior pitcher Rachel Garcia. An NFCA First Team All-American and the Pac-12 Player of the Year last season, Garcia excels both in the circle and in the batter’s box. At the plate, she is hitting .356 with six home runs and 31 RBI’s.
In the circle, she has a sub .60 ERA and has struck out 147 batters while walking only 13. Garcia helped lead the Bruins to Oklahoma City last year, and she looks to do so again this season. She has video game numbers and she has drawn high praise from many people, including ASU head coach Trisha Ford.
“She’s special. She’s someone that kind of transcends the sport and does things great on both sides of the field. For me, you want to beat her but you also enjoy watching her play. It’s probably how a lot of people felt about Lisa Fernandez,” said Ford of Garcia. “She’s a great kid on and off the field...She’s a great player and we respect her, but we want to kick her butt.”
What happened last year:
When UCLA and ASU met last year, the Devils dropped two out of three in Southern California. The lone win occurred in a 3-0 shutout in game one. ASU dropped the second game before falling in extras in the third and final game. All three contests were competitive and highly entertaining.
With a loaded Pac-12 conference for softball that features three teams in the top-10, ASU will look to defend its home field against one of the elite programs in all of college softball.