Feb. 1, 2010
With a little more than a week remaining until the start of the 2010 UCLA softball campaign, UCLABruins.com begins a three-part season preview on Monday with a look at the Bruin pitchers and catchers.
The Bruins will have a pitching staff in 2010 that will make most Major League Baseball teams jealous, boasting five quality pitchers in senior Megan Langenfeld, juniors Whitney Baker and Donna Kerr, sophomore transfer Aleah Macon and freshman Destiny Rodino.
"Our depth in the circle will allow our pitchers to gain great experience and recover quickly throughout a long and grueling season," fourth-year head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. "UCLA hasn't had this kind of depth in the circle since the late 80's and early 90's."
Leading the way in the circle will be Langenfeld, a two-time All-American, who spurred the Bruins to their ninth Pac-10 title last season. The senior went 17-3 with a 1.24 earned run average and 112 strikeouts in 141 2/3 innings. She tossed the 100th no-hitter in UCLA history against Washington and earned a trio of National Player of the Week honors (two NFCA, one USA Softball) and a pair of Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week accolades.
"Megan accomplished so much during the 2009 season and I believe she will be even stronger, both in the circle and at the plate, in 2010," Inouye-Perez said. "She is healthy and has added more weapons to her arsenal."
Kerr was tops on the staff in wins last season, posting a 19-6 record, a 2.76 ERA and a team-best 230 strikeouts in 167 1/3 innings. She led the Bruins with six shutouts and 16 complete games. Kerr held opponents to a .183 average in 2009, which was third among Pac-10 players.
"Donna has had a solid fall and is stronger as a result," Inouye-Perez said. "She will be a big key to our success this year."
Baker, a redshirt junior who has two years of eligibility left, has been sidelined by injuries throughout her career, but is still capable of blowing away hitters, as evidenced by her 73 strikeouts in 63 innings last season. She went 9-2 with a 3.33 ERA over 17 appearances and 15 starts.
"Whitney has put in solid work so far during practice and will be ready to compete in 2010. She has all the tools to be a leader in the circle."
Macon comes to UCLA after spending the 2008 campaign at Washington and sitting out last season. She earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors with the Huskies after going 17-16 with a team-best 1.93 ERA and 262 strikeouts in 224 2/3 innings.
"Aleah is a talented transfer that will impact our pitching staff immediately," Inouye-Perez said. "She is a powerful pitcher with a great off-speed pitch to challenge any opponent."
Rodino was a four-time All-Foothill League, All-Area and All-City honoree at Hart High School in Valencia, Calif. She went 26-5 as a senior with a 0.75 ERA and 277 strikeouts in 214 innings.
"Destiny is a mentally tough lefty with great movement on the ball. I look forward to adding her strengths to our staff this season."
Continuing the theme of this season's squad of having incredible depth, the Bruins have a trio of talented backstops to handle their pitching staff. Senior Kaila Shull and sophomore Dani Yudin return, while freshman Charlotte Dolan will also be in the mix.
Shull earned NFCA All-West Region and first-team All-Pac-10 honors after leading the Bruins with 59 RBI in 2009. She was second with a .683 slugging percentage and 12 home runs and third with a .360 average. Behind the plate, she committed just one error in 390 attempts (.997 fielding percentage).
"Kaila is a great presence behind the plate with her strong arm and consistent defense," Inouye-Perez said. "Her outstanding bat makes her a great all-around player."
Yudin made 50 starts during her freshman season, playing 44 games at designated player and six behind the plate. She hit .206 with four home runs and 19 RBI, was second with 23 walks and earned Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention accolades.
"Dani can swing a big stick as evidenced by some key at-bats she had last season. She is also a solid catcher who adds to our depth behind the plate."
Dolan, who attended Gleneagle Secondary in Vancouver, British Columbia where softball was not offered as a high school sport, brings in solid experience as a member of the Canadian National Team in 2009, playing for the Canada Cup (silver medal) and World Cup of Softball (bronze) teams.
"Charlotte will impact our lineup both offensively and defensively," Inouye-Perez said. "She is very strong and brings great depth to our lineup."
UCLA also employs a valuable asset in sophomore Brooke Finley, who works as a bullpen catcher and who according to Inouye-Perez, "is great at bringing out the best in our pitching staff."
The 2010 season preview continues on Wednesday with a look at the UCLA infield.