Bruins Open Defense of Softball Title

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The top-ranked and three-time defending NCAA champion UCLA women’s softball team (50-5) will play host to Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan (39-20) in the NCAA Pacific Regional this weekend.

The opener of the three-game series will be at 1 p.m. Friday at the Sunset Canyon diamond on campus. The second game will be at 1 p.m. Saturday and a third game, if necessary, will follow.

The winner advances to the second round on Wednesday in Oklahoma City and will meet the winner of regional competition among Oklahoma State, Florida State and Southwestern Louisiana.


UCLA pitcher Lisa Fernandez (19-2, 144 strikeouts) leads the nation with an earned-run average of 0.19 and teammate Heather Compton (17-3, 156 strikeouts) is second with an ERA of 0.198. Central Michigan’s Beth Osterland is 11-3 with a 1.35 ERA.

Top hitters for the Bruins are outfielders Yvonne Gutierrez and Shanna Flynn. Gutierrez is batting .400 with seven home runs and 35 runs batted in and Flynn is batting .335 with four triples.

The No. 7 Pepperdine baseball team (40-12-1 overall as the week began, 24-8 in the West Coast Conference play) will try to clinch the conference championship in a three-game series this weekend at Loyola Marymount (36-20, 23-10).

The Waves must win one of the three games to clinch the WCC title and earn an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. There will be a game at 2:30 p.m. Friday and a double-header at noon Saturday.

Last week Pepperdine lost two of three games at Nevada. Wave relief pitcher Steve Montgomery (9-1, three saves, 1.47 ERA) lost for the first time in Friday’s game at Reno as the Wolf Pack scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win, 9-8.

Pepperdine’s top starting pitchers are Patrick Ahearne (11-3, 3.15 ERA) and Steve Duda (10-2, 3.04 ERA). Leading Wave hitters are second baseman Steve Rodriguez, who is batting .424 with six homers, four triples and 43 RBIs, and first baseman Dan Melendez, who is batting .368 with five homers, 16 doubles and a team-high 54 RBIs.


The No. 2 UCLA men’s tennis team (26-3) and No. 7 Pepperdine (21-2) will play Saturday in the second round of the NCAA championships at the University of Georgia in Athens.

The Bruins will meet the winner of Friday’s match between New Mexico and No. 18 Mississippi State, and Pepperdine will play No. 6 California. The quarterfinals are Sunday, the semifinals Monday and the final on Tuesday.

The UCLA women’s and men’s varsity crews will compete Saturday and Sunday in the Pacific Coast championships at the Sacramento Aquatic Center on Lake Natoma. The UCLA women are defending champions and the Bruin men finished second last year behind Washington.

Winners of the Pacific Coast competition will earn automatic berths in the national championships on June 7-8 on Harsha Lake in Cincinnati.

The UCLA women’s and men’s track teams will compete Saturday and Sunday in the Pacific 10 Conference outdoor championships at Arizona State in Tempe.

The Bruin women, led by two-event Pac-10 defending champions Janeene Vickers and Tracie Millett, are favored to win their fifth consecutive conference title. Last year, Vickers won the 100-meter hurdles and the 400 hurdles, and Millett won the shot-put and discus.


The Brentwood School boys tennis team (15-1), defending Southern Section 1-A Division champion, will play the winner of the Yucaipa-Bishop match in the second round of the playoffs at 3:15 p.m. Friday at the Studio City Golf and Tennis Club, 4141 Whitsett Ave.

Brentwood’s No. 1 singles player David Manpearl, who is undefeated in Delphic League play, and the Eagles’ top doubles team of Casey Meyers and Mike Bartman, also unbeaten in league play, will compete in the CIF Sectional championships on Saturday at Santa Barbara.

Sophomore guard-forward Earic Peters was named the most valuable player of the Santa Monica College men’s basketball team at an awards banquet. Sophomore guard Dana Harris was named the team’s top defensive player and freshman guard Dorian Manigo the most inspirational.