May 13, 2002
This Week -- NCAA Regional I -- South Carolina, Host
Thu. May 16 vs. Liberty (www.uclabruins.com) Columbia, SC 11:30 am ET
Fri. May 17 NCAA Regional Play (www.uclabruins.com) Columbia, SC TBA
Sat. May 18 NCAA Regional Play (www.uclabruins.com) Columbia, SC TBA
Sun. May 19 NCAA Reg. Championship Gm (www.uclabruins.com) Columbia, SC 2 pm ET
UCLA, the top-seeded team in the 2002 NCAA Softball Championship, will open its postseason schedule on Thursday, May 16, in Columbia, South Carolina. UCLA, the automatic qualifier from the Pac-10, will open against sixth-seeded Liberty on Thursday, a team UCLA has never faced. Other teams in the NCAA's top-seeded regional include #2 Georgia (SEC Tournament runner-up; has never faced UCLA), #3 South Carolina (host, SEC East Division Champion, UCLA has 8-0 record vs. USC), #4 Eastern Kentucky (Play-in winner, UCLA has never faced EKU), and #5 UMBC (Play-in winner, UCLA has never faced Maryland-Baltimore County).
Bruins Win Seventh Pac-10 Title With Weekend Sweep
With final-weekend victories over Arizona (4-2 on Friday) and Arizona State (4-1 and 6-1 on Saturday), the Bruins finished their Pac-10 slate with an 18-3 record to clinch UCLA's seventh Pac-10 Championship. UCLA's most recent Pac-10 title came in 1999, when the Bruins went on to win the NCAA Championship. Other Pac-10 titles were in 1988, 89, 90, 91 and 93.
Friday's game began on a rough note for UCLA, as Arizona's Lovieanne Jung put the first pitch of the game over the right field fence, giving the Cats a 1-0 lead. UCLA would come back in the third inning, when Natasha Watley posted a lead-off triple followed by an RBI single from Tairia Mims. Stacey Nuveman then followed with a towering home run, the 88th of her career, and third in as many at-bats against Wildcat star Jennie Finch. UCLA went on to win by a 4-2 margin.
The Bruins learned between games of Saturday's doubleheader that they had clinched sole possession of the Pac-10 title, but that did not slow the UCLA offense. The Bruins had two home runs in the opening game of the day, from Mims and Stephanie Ramos, and a grand slam in the first inning of game two from Claire Sua.
Stacey Nuveman Named Pac-10 Athlete of the Year
The Pac-10's annual awards were announced on Monday, and Bruin senior slugger Stacey Nuveman was named the Pac-10's Athlete of the Year for the third time in her career. She is the third player to earn three Pac-10 Player of the Year honors, joining UCLA greats Lisa Longaker (1987-88-90) and Lisa Fernandez (1991-93). Nuveman previously earned the honor as a sophomore in 1999 and as a junior in 2001. Nuveman was joined on the Pac-10 first team by fellow Bruins Amanda Freed, Keira Goerl and Natasha Watley, while Tairia Mims and Claire Sua earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors.
Nuveman Breaks NCAA Career Home Run Record
History was made on May 4 at the OSU Softball Complex in Corvallis, OR, when Bruin senior catcher Stacey Nuveman blasted the 86th home run of her UCLA career, a lead-off first-pitch home run in the top of the seventh inning. Nuveman would then add No. 87 on Sunday, a three-run shot, again in the seventh inning, and No. 88 on Friday against Arizona. Of Nuveman's 18 home runs this season, she has 11 against teams that were in the NFCA Top-17 at game time, including three homers in her last three official at-bats against Arizona star pitcher Jennie Finch. For more information on Stacey Nuveman, please see page five of UCLA's postseason guide.
Three Bruins on ASA Collegiate Player of the Year List
The Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, has announced the ten finalists for the inaugural USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. The initial list of 25 finalists was announced on April 12. This award is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.
Three Bruins, senior catcher Stacey Nuveman, junior shortstop Natasha Watley and sophomore pitcher Keira Goerl are among the list of 10 finalists. No other school has more than one player on the list of 10 finalists.
Three finalists will be announced May 31st, with the winner of the 2002 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award being announced June 7th.