The UCLA Bruins softball team represents the University of California, Los Angeles in NCAA Division I softball. The Bruins are among the most decorated programs in NCAA softball, leading all schools in NCAA championships with 12, 13 overall Women's College World Series championships,[2] championship game appearances with 22,[2] WCWS appearances with 36,[2] and NCAA Tournament wins with 187.[3]

UCLA Bruins softball
2024 UCLA Bruins softball team
Founded1975
UniversityUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Head coachKelly Inouye-Perez (17th season)
ConferenceBig Ten
LocationLos Angeles, California
Home stadiumEaston Stadium (Capacity: 1,328)
NicknameBruins
ColorsBlue and gold[1]
   
NCAA Tournament champions
1982, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1995*, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2019
AIAW Tournament champions
1978[2]
NCAA WCWS runner-up
1987, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2005
NCAA WCWS appearances
1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995*, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2024
AIAW WCWS appearances
1978, 1979 (runner-up), 1981[2]
NCAA Super Regional appearances
2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2024
NCAA Tournament appearances
1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995*, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024
Conference Tournament championships
Pac-12: 2024
Regular Season Conference championships
SCWIAC: 1975, 1976
WCAA: 1983, 1984
Pac-10/12: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2019, 2021, 2023, 2024
*vacated by NCAA

History

edit

Sharron Backus era

edit

Judith Holland, UCLA senior associate athletic director, hired Sharon Backus as a part-time coach upon the program's founding in 1975. Holland recalled, "I had seen her play, and she was probably one of the best shortstops who ever played the game."[4] Backus was a physical education teacher at a high school in Anaheim, California when she was hired by UCLA and kept her teaching job for the first couple years after being hired at UCLA. Backus taught in Anaheim in the mornings and drove to UCLA for practice and games in the afternoon.[4] Holland recalled that UCLA paid Backus about $1,500 year as a part-time coach, "and I don't think the money even paid for her gas."[4]

In Backus's first three years at UCLA, the team struggled. Between 1975 and 1977, UCLA compiled a record of 44–20. In the formative years of the program, the Bruins played at city parks, where they were "often bumped from fields by recreational softball leagues."[5] Backus moved her team to the UCLA intramural field, but it was not until 1980 that her team got its own field.[5] Sunset Field and was constructed in 1979 and it was the home of the Bruins through 1993.

In 1978, the Bruins won their first AIAW national softball championship with a 31–3 record. After women's softball became an NCAA sport in 1982, Backus's teams won six of the first nine NCAA softball tournaments.[5] In all, Backus led UCLA to eight NCAA tournament championships (in addition to the 1978 pre-NCAA championship) in 1982 (33–7–2), 1984 (45–6–1), 1985 (41–9), 1988 (53–8), 1989 (48–4), 1990 (62–7), 1992 (54–2), and 1995 (50–6).[6]

From 1988 to 1990, the Bruins won three consecutive NCAA championships and compiled a record of 163–19. Backus's success led the Los Angeles Times in 1990 to compare Backus to UCLA's legendary basketball coach John Wooden:

"When you talk about UCLA dynasties, you start with John Wooden, who coached the men's basketball team to 10 NCAA titles. But Backus has built a dynasty of her own. ... In total, the Bruins have won seven national titles, finished second twice and third twice in Backus' 15 seasons."[5]

Commenting on the pressure and anxiety fostered by success, Backus noted, "John Wooden once said that he wished one national championship to his best friends, but four to his enemies."[7]

Infractions

edit

In December 1995, the UCLA women's softball program was placed on probation after an investigation revealed that UCLA had awarded more scholarships than were permitted under NCAA rules. Amid an NCAA probe prompted by a Los Angeles Times investigation into UCLA pitcher Tanya Harding, Backus announced her retirement in January 1997 after 21 years as the team's head coach.[8] Backus compiled a record of 847 wins, 167 losses and 3 ties at UCLA.[8][9] At the time of her retirement, she was "the winningest college softball coach" in the history of the sport.[8][10] Backus told the press when she retired, "I've had a great career at UCLA, but it's time for a change. My primary reason for stepping down has to do with the illness and death of my mother in early October. That, plus the ongoing NCAA probe of the softball program have created a level of stress that I feel is best to put behind me at this time."[9]

Sue Enquist era

edit

In 1989, Sue Enquist was appointed co-head coach with Backus, a position they shared through the 1996 season. Enquist played softball at UCLA under Sharron Backus from 1975 to 1978. She helped lead UCLA to its first national softball championship in 1978 and became UCLA's first All-American softball player.[11] Her career batting average of .401 was the UCLA team record for 24 years. Prior to becoming co-head coach, she was an assistant coach under Backus from 1980 to 1988.

Following Backus's retirement, Enquist became the sole head coach at UCLA in 1997, a position she held for ten years from 1997 to 2006.[12] Enquist retired from UCLA in 2006.[13][14] In 18 years as the co-head coach and sole head coach at UCLA, Enquist compiled a record of 887–175–1.[15] Her career winning percentage of .835 is the highest recorded by any of the college softball coaches with 800 career wins.[16] During her years as a player and coach at UCLA, the Bruins softball team won 11 national championships in 1978, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1999, 2003 and 2004.[12]

Kelly Inouye-Perez era

edit

The UCLA Bruins are currently under the coaching of Kelly Inouye-Perez, who started in 2007. A former UCLA catcher, she played under Coach Sue Enquist. She was named First-Team All PAC-10 her freshmen year and Second Team All-PAC-10 her sophomore season. She helped lead the Bruins to the 1989 and 1990 National championship before getting shoulder surgery in 1991. She came back the following year and got 2nd team All-PAC-10 honor and won the national championship with a 54-2 record on the season.

Perez was the assistant coach for the Bruins from 1994 to 2006. As her time as assistant coach, she helped accumulate a 617-150-1 overall record, 3 PAC-10 championships, 7 championship game appearances, 3 national championships, and named the National Coaching Staff of the Year award. She guided recognizable pitchers and catchers in the game like Stacey Nuveman who became a 3 time PAC-10 Player of the Year, 4 time 1st team All-American, and NCAA's all time single season and career home run leader.

She became only the third coach in UCLA softball history on January 1, 2007. So far in her time as UCLA head coach, she accumulated 32 NFCA All-American awards, 67 All-Region honors, and 89 All Pacific-10/Pac-12 awards from her players. She brought two national championship back to the university in 2010 and 2019. She accomplished her 600th win of her career when she beat the Oklahoma Sooners in the national championship game in 2019. [17]

Name Position coached Consecutive season at
UCLA in current position
Kelly Inouye-Perez Head coach 17th
Lisa Fernandez Associate head coach 1st
Kirk Walker Associate head coach 1st
Will Oldham Volunteer assistant coach 1st
Claire Donyanavard Director of Softball Operations 5th
Kaitlyn Gustafson Assistant athletic trainer
Adam Garner Director of Athletic Performance
Reference:[18]

Head coaches

edit
Name Years Won Lost Tied Pct.
Sharron Backus 1975–1988 451 117 3 .794
Sharron Backus & Sue Enquist 1989–1996 403 56 0 .878
Sue Enquist 1997–2007 484 119 1 .803
Kelly Inouye-Perez 2007–present 544 166 1 .766

Year-by-year results

edit
Season Coach Record Notes
Overall Conference
Southern California Women's Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
1975 Sharron Backus 14–6 9–0 SCWIAC Champions
1976 13–4 9–1 SCWIAC Champions
Independent
1977 Sharron Backus 17–10
1978 31–13 AIAW National Champions
1979 24–9 AIAW College World Series (Runner-up)
Western Collegiate Athletic Association
1980 Sharron Backus 24–13 11–5
1981 38–10 10–5 AIAW College World Series (3rd place)
1982 33–7–2 15–4–1 NCAA Champions
1983 40–7 17–3 Women's College World Series (3rd Place)
1984 45–6–1 7–3 NCAA Champions
1985 41–9 9–3 NCAA Champions
1986 28–15 10–2
1987 Sharron Backus 50–10 7–3 Women's College World Series (Runner-up)
1988 53–8 15–3 NCAA Champions
1989 Backus/Enquist 48–4 18–2 NCAA Champions
1990 62–7 16–2 NCAA Champions
1991 56–7 16–4 Women's College World Series (Runner-up)
1992 54–2 14–2 NCAA Champions
1993 50–5 25–1 Women's College World Series (Runner-up)
1994 43–14 16–6 Women's College World Series (Runner-up)
1995 43–6 23–4 NCAA Champions (vacated by NCAA)
1996 47–11 20–7 Women's College World Series (3rd Place)
1997 Sue Enquist 49–14 21–7 Women's College World Series (Runner-up)
1998 18–27 8–18
1999 63–6 22–6 NCAA Champions
2000 46–12–1 14–7 Women's College World Series (Runner-up)
2001 62–6 16–5 Women's College World Series (Runner-up)
2002 55–9 18–3 Women's College World Series (5th Place)
2003 54–7 17–4 NCAA Champions
2004 47–9 12–8 NCAA Champions
2005 40–20 11–10 Women's College World Series (Runner-up)
2006 50–9 15–5 Women's College World Series (4th Place)
2007 Kelly Inouye-Perez 37–18 12–9 NCAA Regional
2008 51–9 17–4 Women's College World Series (5th Place)
2009 45–11 16–5 NCAA Super Regional
2010 50–11 14–7 NCAA Champions
2011 36–19 9–12 NCAA Regional
2012 Kelly Inouye-Perez 36–20 12–12 NCAA Regional
2013 40–20 10–4 NCAA Regional
2014 52–8 19–5 NCAA Super Regional
2015 51–12 19–5 Women's College World Series (5th Place)
2016 40–16–1 16–5–1 Women's College World Series (8th Place)
2017 48–15 16–8 Women's College World Series (6th Place)
2018 55–5 20–4 Women's College World Series (3rd Place)
2019 56–6 20–4 NCAA Champions
2020 25–1 0–0 Season cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
2021 47–7 19–2 Women's College World Series (5th Place)
2022 51–10 19–5 Women's College World Series (4th Place)
2023 52–7 21–3 NCAA Regional
2024 43–12 17–4 Women's College World Series (5th Place)

NCAA Tournament seeding history

edit

National seeding began in 2005. The UCLA Bruins have been a national seed 16 of the 18 tournaments.

Years → '05 '06 '07 '08 '09 '10 '12 '14 '15 '16 '17 '18 '19 '21 '22 '23 '24
Seeds → 7 1 12 2 2 5 12 3 7 12 5 3 2 2 5 2 6

Notable players

edit

National awards

edit
NFCA National Freshman of the Year
NFCA National Player of the Year
NFCA National Pitcher of the Year
Softball America Player of the Year
Softball America Pitcher of the Year
Softball America Freshman of the Year
USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year
NFCA Catcher of the Year

Conference awards

edit
Pac-12 Player of the Year
Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year
Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year
  • Briana Perez (2022)
Pac-12 Freshman of the Year
Pac-12 Coach of the Year

References

edit
  1. ^ "Style Guide // UCLA Athletics for Print and Digital Applications" (PDF). UCLA Nike Jordan Style Guide. July 7, 2021. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e Plummer, William; Floyd, Larry C. (2013). A Series Of Their Own: History Of The Women's College World Series. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States: Turnkey Communications Inc. ISBN 978-0-9893007-0-4.
  3. ^ "2014 Women's College World Series Record Book" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Ray Ripton (1991-02-07). "Bruins Try to Continue Domination in Softball Colleges: Three-time defending NCAA champions have plenty of pitching and hitting talent". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ a b c d Chris Baker (1990-06-12). "Another UCLA Dynasty Takes Shape Softball: Bruins have won three NCAA titles in a row and six of nine overall under Coach Sharron Backus". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Division I Softball Champions". NCAA. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
  7. ^ Ray Ripton (1989-06-04). "Keeping a Dynasty Going Isn't All Fun, UCLA Softball Coach Learns". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ a b c "UCLA Softball Coach Backus Resigns During Investigation". Los Angeles Times. 1997-01-07.
  9. ^ a b "BACKUS STEPS DOWN AS BRUINS COACH". Daily News (Los Angeles). 1997-01-07.
  10. ^ Judi Garman passed Backus as the sport's winningest coach in 1998.
  11. ^ "UCLA Women Win Series". Schenectady Gazette. May 29, 1978.
  12. ^ a b "Sue Enquist Profile". UCLA. Archived from the original on 2012-12-09.
  13. ^ "Acclaimed UCLA softball coach Enquist to retire". ESPN.com. September 26, 2006.
  14. ^ Ben Bolch (September 27, 2006). "Veteran UCLA Softball Coach Enquist to Retire". Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ "NCAA Career Statistics". NCAA. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  16. ^ "NCAA Softball Coaching Records" (PDF). NCAA. 2011.
  17. ^ "Kelly Inouye-Perez - Softball Coach". UCLA. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  18. ^ "UCLA Bruins Softball Coaches". UCLABruins.com. UCLA Athletics. Retrieved 4 February 2019.