UCLA Bruins Spring Sports Wrap-Up


As Albus Dumbledore said in the first Harry Potter book/movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, “Another year has gone.”

Now that the gowns have been worn, the speeches delivered, and the caps thrown in the air, I think it’s time to recap how UCLA did in their spring sports, starting with…

BASEBALL – The Bruins didn’t make a return trip to the College World Series, losing to UC Irvine in their regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium and finishing at 35-24 for the year, but there were quite a few highlights:

Trevor Bauer had perhaps the greatest season any pitcher had in Westwood, going 13-2 for the year with a miniscule 1.25 ERA and striking out a whopping 203 batters, breaking the Pac-10 record. He also had nine complete games in winning National Pitcher of the Year honors, and capped his dream season with being chosen third overall in the Major League Baseball Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Despite a less-than-stellar 6-8 record, his pitching mate Gerrit Cole did Bauer better in the MLB draft as he became the first Bruin baseball player ever to be chosen number one overall, by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Bauer and Cole were instrumental in helping UCLA win their first outright Pac-10 Conference championship in 25 years, finishing at 18-9. The pitching staff’s 2.44 ERA was their best since 1969.

The problem was their hitting, particularly the lack of such as they batted a mere .264 as a team with a grand total of 17 home runs, which I’m sure some hitters on other teams bettered by themselves; Cody Regis led the team with six dingers. And their production with runners in scoring position was especially terrible.

Overall, these Bruins, led by John Savage, had a season that can be described as good-but-not-great. If they are to continue to contend in 2012, they need to adequately replace Bauer and Cole and recruit some hitters.

SOFTBALL – Like their baseball counterparts, these ladies failed to return to the Women’s College World Series, losing in their regional final to Florida, 11-3, on the Gators’ home field in Gainesville.

The Bruins’ 36-19 record may look good on the surface, but with a 9-12 Pac-10 record, finishing far from the pace, and losing eight of their last ten conference games to go stumbling into the post-season, it’s safe to say that UCLA disappointed.

Their numerous injuries, particularly to pitcher Aleah Macon, didn’t help, but it was a disappointing year all the same.

Donna Kerr and Jessica Hall had OK seasons in the pitching circle, but didn’t quite meet the Bruin standards of excellence as Kerr lost ten games and gave up 15 home runs. Hall went 16-9 with a 2.59 ERA as a freshman and will be a key in 2012.

The hitting was fine as first baseman Andrea Harrison led the team in pretty much everything with 15 homers and 52 RBIs to go along with her .409 average; as a junior, she’ll be counted on to produce those numbers and more next year, as will freshman shortstop Kellie Fox (.342, 11 HR, 45 RBI) and sophomore outfielder B.B. Bates (.324, 11 HR, 44 RBI).

It’s up to coach Kelly Inouye-Perez’s ladies to prove those who called them a flash-in-the-pan wrong in 2012 as they go after their 12th national championship.

WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS – Coach Valorie Kondos-Field’s team finished a very close second in the NCAAs, losing to Alabama in the Super Six in Cleveland despite doing about as well as could be expected.

Losing All-American Vanessa Zamarripa to a ruptured Achilles tendon before the season started turned out to be a key, and was probably the difference as the Bruins missed her all-around excellence and 9.9-plus scores.

After placing second in the Pac-10 Conference meet, UCLA went on a roll in winning their NCAA regionals in Athens, GA as many of Miss Val’s gymnasts stepped up, led by seniors Brittani McCullough – nominated for the Honda Award as the nation’s top gymnast – and Niki Tom,  juniors Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, Tauny Frattone and Aisha Gerber, and freshmen Samantha Peszek, who won the NCAA Balance Beam title, and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Olivia Courtney.

With most of their core group returning, as well as Zamarripa, the Bruins will be one of the favorites in 2012, if not THE favorite to win their 7th NCAA title.

WOMEN’S GOLF – Led by Tiffany Lua’s one under par performance and a team score of 1,173 – and beating top-rated USC on the way – these Bruins captured the National Championship in College Station, TX, the team’s third and the school’s NCAA-leading 107th.

Coach Carrie Forsyth, who won her 2nd NCAA title, should feel proud and ecstatic at her team’s accomplishments, especially since they return all but two people next year.

MEN’S GOLF – This team was highly ranked all season, and won the NCAA West Regional by three shots over crosstown enemy USC, but unfortunately lost to Duke in the team match quarterfinals.

MEN’S VOLLEYBALL – Over the past few years, this iconic program has fallen on hard times, and 2011 may have seen them hit rock bottom as they went 16-15 with an Mountain Pacific Sports Federation record of 8-13, including losing to USC three times by a combined score of nine games to one.

The biggest news was that Al Scates, the greatest volleyball coach of all time with a record of over 1,200 wins and 19 national championships to his credit, is retiring at the end of the 2012 season. In a most unfortunate occurrence all too common in sports, Scates fell victim to age and the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mentality, as too many recruits preferred to go elsewhere.

One can only hope that 2012 will see much better times for these Bruins, sending Scates out on a good note.

WOMEN’S TENNIS – Finished with a record of 22-6, including 7-1 in the Pac-10, beating USC twice.

Led by coach Stella Sampras-Webster (Pete Sampras’ sister) and McCall Jones, these Bruin ladies made the NCAA Final Four, losing to eventual national champion Florida.

With the team having six freshmen and losing only three seniors, UCLA’s future looks good here.

MEN’S TENNIS – Losing in a heartbreaking fashion to Baylor, 4-3, in the NCAA’s round of 16 after failing to capitalize on four match points, these Bruins finished at 18-7 overall, not reaching the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 1988.

Plus they lost to national champion USC twice.

However, with ten freshmen and sophomores returning, like their female counterparts better times are potentially ahead.

WOMEN’S WATER POLO – This perennial power finished third in the NCAA Final Four after beating USC in the consolation game, 6-5, for their third win over the Trojans in five overall meetings with them after losing to California 7-4 in the semifinals.

They had a record of 26-7 for the season.

TRACK AND FIELD – The men were ranked in the top 25 this year, while the women were unranked.

They split with USC in their annual dual meet at Loker Stadium on the ‘SC campus, a longtime tradition in the Crosstown War; the men beat the Trojans 89-74 while their women counterparts lost to them 95-68.

In the Pac-10 Championships, the men finished 3rd while the women finished 6th.

Among the individual accomplishments were Cory Primm winning the Pac-10 800 meters, Greg Woepse winning the pole vault, and Turquoise Thompson becoming the Pac-10 women’s 400 meter hurdles champion.

ROWING – UCLA’s women’s rowing team placed sixth – out of seven teams – in the Pac-10 Championships in May, losing to California, Stanford, and USC among others.