Feb. 9, 2011
When you talk about the best outfields in the nation, the conversation has to begin with the three players patrolling the UCLA grass. In left, you have a player who tied a Women's College World Series record last year with four home runs. In right, you have a player who was named to the All-Pac-10 Freshman Team. And in center, you have a player who returns after an All-American season in 2009.
From left to right, juniors Andrea Harrison and Katie Schroeder and sophomore B.B. Bates are multi-faceted players that not only provide outstanding defense in the outfield but pack a substantive punch at the plate.
"Andrea, Katie and B.B. all work very well together in the outfield with their ability to run balls down and throw runners out and that gives a great deal of confidence to our pitching staff," fifth-year head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said.
The Bruins brought in four freshmen as a solid recruiting class for 2011, but perhaps the biggest "newcomer" this season is someone who played in just seven contests a year ago. Schroeder had eight hits in 22 at-bats through the first two weekends of the season before going down with a season-ending, left leg injury. Now a redshirt junior, Schroeder is healthy again and ready to duplicate a 2009 campaign which saw her hit .402 with 14 homers and 19 stolen bases.
"We were very fortunate to do so well without Katie in the lineup last year and to be able to regain a quality leader like that is a huge strength for us," Inouye-Perez said. "Katie is a vocal leader for us as the quarterback of our outfield. Offensively, I look for her to be what she was for us as a sophomore in 2009."
When it comes to Harrison, many people talk about the four home runs at the WCWS, a Series-record 11 RBI in Oklahoma City and a spot on the All-Tournament Team. They also talk about the .343 average, the 17 homers and 55 runs batted in last year. As Inouye-Perez put it, she has proven that she is one of the most feared hitters in the game. But a lost attribute of Harrison's is her solid defense as she roams left field.
"You don't get to see it because she doesn't get too many reps, but Andrea has one of the strongest outfield arms in the country," Inouye-Perez said. "She takes a lot of pride in the position and works very well with the other outfielders to produce a solid unit."
One of the players who was thrown into the center field position last year with the injury to Schroeder was Bates, who came through with flying colors after hitting .322 with five homers and 31 RBI. She came through in the clutch several times as a freshman, hitting two-run bombs in the Super Regionals against Louisiana-Lafayette and the WCWS versus Georgia.
"B.B. has worked very hard on her game and came through for us in a lot of key situations last season," Inouye-Perez said. "Just like her fellow outfielders, she has both the short game and the long game. B.B. has an incredible work ethic and I look for her to be even stronger in 2011."
Another player who proved to be a solid replacement in center field was sophomore Devon Lindvall. She played in 50 games as a freshman, making 26 starts in center. She only had 31 appearances at the plate, but her biggest role came in the outfield, where she made some spectacular defensive plays, including one at the Women's College World Series that made the ESPN SportsCenter Top 10.
"Devon is an outstanding outfielder and she made some great plays for us out there last season," Inouye-Perez said. "She works very hard offensively too. Devon brings great depth to our team and has a very positive approach to filling any role for us."
"I have a great deal of confidence that any one of these four outfielders can do a great job of filling those positions."