2022 Mark Campbell Collegiate Invitational

UCLA Preview: Bruins In The Hunt For 13th National Title

UCLA Preview: Bruins In The Hunt For 13th National Title

For decades, UCLA softball has been considered the example for how to build a program. Unfortunately, last year they ran into Oklahoma in the WCWS.

Feb 2, 2022 by Kyle Kensing
UCLA Preview: Bruins In The Hunt For 13th National Title

For decades, UCLA softball has been considered the example for how to build a collegiate program. 

In last year’s Women’s College World Series, the Bruins’ 31st time making it that far in program history, they were on the receiving end of an example being made.

UCLA’s aspirations for its first back-to-back national championships since 2003-04 were dashed by the offensive buzzsaw of Oklahoma, which became the first and only opponent to score double-digit runs on the Bruins all season en route to the Sooners’ national championship. 

But if you think that UCLA is going to be demoralized by defeat heading into the 2022 softball season, you clearly don’t know UCLA. Trophy cabinets don’t get filled when you feel sorry for yourself, especially in the case of the Bruins’ record 12 national titles in school history. 

What’s to expect from UCLA this season as it pushes for title No. 13? Look no further for a guide on the players and factors that’ll shape the Bruins as they push for Oklahoma City once again. 


The Bruins averaged over six runs a game in 2021, even against a plethora of elite opposition, and a major reason for that was because of two returning players—both of which were NFCA First Team All-Americans. The first is redshirt sophomore utility Maya Brady, who finished with a slash line of .333/.435/.696 as she tied for the team lead with 14 home runs, doing well to live up to the hype after a shortened first season in 2020 in which she hit seven home runs in 26 games and was named the Softball America Freshman of the Year. The second name is outfielder Aaliyah Jordan, who as a redshirt senior has been getting the job done for the Bruins for awhile now. A former Pac-12 batting champion and three-time All-Pac-12 First Teamer, Jordan’s batting average of .317 in 2021 was actually the lowest for a season in her Bruins career. But her prowess at the plate has resulted in 36 multi-hit games since 2019, and if Jordan gets back to near the level of her best year in 2018 (.429 average, 12 home runs, 67 RBI), then UCLA’s bats may be even tougher to cool down. 


Immediately replacing a three-time Pac-12 Player of the Year in Rachel Garcia is next to impossible, even for a program with the prestige and ability to produce talent like UCLA. Garcia was a two-way monster for the Bruins in a historic college career, winning two USA Softball National Player of the Year awards in 2018 and 2019, and finished her time in Los Angeles with a 99-17 record, 1.43 ERA and 996 strikeouts—plus a national championship in 2019. But if there’s anyone in the Bruins’ rotation that can live up to the lofty expectations in the circle that Garcia set during her tenure, it’s Megan Faraimo. The redshirt junior formed a dominant one-two punch alongside Garcia in 2021, with Faraimo finishing with a 1.10 ERA, 19 wins and 184 strikeouts a year ago, all of which were best on the team. Faraimo herself has plenty of honors to go around, too, as she was an NFCA All-American and finalist for the same USA Softball award Garcia won twice. Already one of the elite arms in college softball, any further rise in her game would likely put her as the frontrunner for the best pitcher (or maybe even outright player) in the country. 


UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez’s team only lost seven games all season in 2021, with the former Bruins star catcher leading her alma mater to the No. 2 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA DI Top 25 Coaches Poll and earning herself a well-deserved Pac-12 Coach of the Year award. However, what stopped UCLA from winning back-to-back NCAA championships a year ago was arguably itself. The Bruins lost their final two games of the year in Oklahoma City at the WCWS by a combined 16-3 to Alabama (6-0) and Oklahoma (10-3). Granted, both are elite programs right up there with the Bruins, with the Sooners in particular breaking numerous NCAA records en route to their eventual national championship. But when the Bruins won the crown in 2019, they took care of business when it mattered, losing just one game in the NCAA Tournament while outscoring foes 37-11 through five wins in that year’s WCWS. With plenty of loaded rosters at the elite level of college softball, the margins to prove the best are growing thinner and thinner year-by-year. For UCLA, it could look back to prior history to get an idea about what to push the Bruins to even more silverware.