Kylee Perez sets high standard for UCLA softball

Junior Kylee Perez leads UCLA in hitting heading into this weekend’s Super Regional against Mississippi. (Photo courtesy Katie Meyers)

Kylee Perez is a shortstop by nature, but the junior has turned into a formidable second baseman for UCLA.

While leading her team in hitting, Perez earned her first All-Pac-12 Defensive Team honor this year as her pairing with shortstop Delaney Spaulding proved to be the strength of UCLA’s team.

“There’s a mentality and a physicality about the second basemen in our program,” head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “They have this ability to be scrappy, high IQ, do whatever it takes for the team. It’s a unique position, but Kylee does an outstanding job playing it.”

Perez can sometimes be overshadowed on a team bursting with stars, but she is the unquestioned emotional leader for the fifth-seeded Bruins who host No. 12 Mississippi this weekend in an NCAA Super Regional.

More on how Perez sets the tone for the Bruins 

NCAA SOFTBALL SUPER REGIONAL

  • No. 5 UCLA (45-12) vs. No. 12 Mississippi (43-18)
  • Easton Stadium
  • Thursday, 6 p.m., ESPN
  • Friday, 6 p.m., ESPNU
  • Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN (if necessary)
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Scott Quessenberry named to Rimington Trophy Spring Watch List

UCLA center Scott Quessenberry (52) was named to the Spring Watch List for the Rimington Trophy on Monday. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Watch List Season is coming early.

Redshirt senior Scott Quessenberry was one of 63 players named to the spring watch list for the Rimington Trophy on Monday. The award recognizes the top center in the country.

Quesenberry was named first-team All-Pac-12 last season after starting all 12 of UCLA’s games. He had missed the previous year due to double shoulder surgery.

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UCLA weekend recap: Baseball sweeps Utah

UCLA head coach John Savage (center) honored his four seniors Brett Stephens (far left), Moises Ceja (second from left), Nick Kern (second from right) and Scott Burke (far right), before the team’s final home game Sunday. (Photo courtesy UCLA athletics)

With the postseason inching ever closer, the UCLA baseball team swept an important series against Utah at home to remain in third place in the Pac-12 standings.

The Bruins (28-23, 17-10 Pac-12) are still one game behind second-place Stanford after the Cardinal swept Washington last weekend. Oregon State has already clinched the Pac-12 title.

While celebrating the team’s seniors during their final collegiate home stand, the underclassmen stood out for the Bruins. In the series opener Friday, freshman Jack Stronach went 2 for 3 with a solo home run and three RBIs in UCLA’s 7-3 win. On Saturday, fellow freshmen Chase Strumpf and Michael Toglia drove in all of UCLA’s runs in its 5-3 victory as Strumpf hit a grand slam and Toglia drew a bases-loaded walk. Sophomore Daniel Amaral went 4 for 4 in Sunday’s 8-3 win to help UCLA clinch its third Pac-12 sweep this year.

The Bruins have four regular-season games left, starting with a midweek game at UC Irvine on Tuesday before finishing with a three-game road series against Oregon.

Elsewhere in UCLA athletics:

  • Men’s tennis lost 4-2 to Georgia in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in a weather-delayed match that took nearly eight hours in total. The No. 5 Bruins won the doubles point, but lost a critical first-set tiebreaker at No. 6 singles that left the door open for the Bulldogs to come back. The teams split the six first sets 3-3, and No. 13 Georgia, playing on its home courts, took advantage of the UCLA slip-up to grab singles wins at Nos. 2, 4, 5 and 6 to advance to the Final Four. Martin Redlicki, who won his singles match at No. 1, will compete as an individual in the NCAA Singles Championships and pair with Evan Zhu in the Doubles Championships.
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UCLA softball advances to Super Regional

UCLA’s Brianna Tautalafua shows her excitement after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning during finals of the NCAA Softball Regional against Cal State Fullerton at Easton Stadium in UCLA in Los Angeles on Sunday, May 21, 2017. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Orange County Register/SCNG)

A grand slam by Brianna Tautalafua and a clutch strike out by Rachel Garcia decided two critical bases-loaded situations for the UCLA softball team that allowed the fifth-seeded Bruins to advance to the NCAA Super Regional after a 9-1 win over Cal State Fullerton on Sunday.

Garcia, who was starting her third straight game Sunday, was stellar down the stretch as she retired 12 of the final 13 batters. She worked out of a third-inning jam that proved to be one of the critical moments of the game. With the bases loaded and UCLA holding on to a one-run lead, Garcia struck out CSF catcher Kylie Padilla to retire the side and keep the Titans scoreless.

Tautalafua then hit a grand slam in the fifth inning, which was part of a five-run frame for the Bruins that broke a previously tight game open. She had three home runs and eight RBIs during UCLA’s three regional wins as the Bruins collected 27 total runs.

UCLA hosts Ole Miss in the Super Regional, which starts Thursday at Easton Stadium. Unlike previous years, the best-of-three series to decide who will advance to the Women’s College World Series, will be played with one game a day, with the third game if necessary instead of a three-game, two-day format.

MORE ON UCLA’S REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WIN

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Long ball leads UCLA softball into NCAA regional final

Delaney Spaulding hit her second home run in as many games to lead UCLA to a 10-2 win over San Jose State on Saturday. (Photo courtesy UCLA Athletics)

In two games, the UCLA softball team has scored 18 runs with seven home runs. The Bruins have yet to play a full seven-inning game while cruising to Sunday’s NCAA Los Angeles Regional final after they run-ruled San Jose State 10-1 in six innings Saturday.

Delanay Spaulding, Madeline Jelenicki and Brianna Tautalafua each hit two-run homers Saturday while Rachel Garcia added her sixth homer of the season.

Spaulding has a team-high five RBIs in the regional tournament so far.

With Saturday’s win, the Bruins are one victory away from their fourth straight Super Regional. They need one win Sunday against Cal State Fullerton to host next weekend’s Super Regional. The first game is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Easton Stadium with the second at 6:30 p.m. if necessary.

Full recap of UCLA’s win Saturday.

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