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scene in the Southland | NCAA SOFTBALL

UCLA Starts With Alabama

May 25, 2000|ERIC STEPHENS

OKLAHOMA CITY — UCLA and Arizona have put a stranglehold on the Women's College World Series. Not including 1995, when UCLA was stripped of the championship and the title vacated, they have combined to win 10 of the last 11 NCAA softball titles.

Washington, last year's runner-up to five-time champion UCLA, has been ranked No. 1 most of this season and comes into the series as one of the favorites.

Displaying the West's dominance, Washington, Arizona and UCLA finished 1-2-3 in the Pacific 10 Conference and in the final national poll.

But there are five other teams who believe they can break through. Alabama is one and plays UCLA in a first-round game today at Don Porter Hall of Fame Stadium. The fifth-seeded Crimson Tide (65-12) reached its first College World Series by defeating Arizona State twice at Tempe last week.

UCLA Coach Sue Enquist said the days of easy opening-round victories for the Bruins are over.

"There were some years where you wondered how some teams got there," she said. "You knew there were teams that you could probably beat with your second team.

"I don't see it that way now. Each one of these teams has everything that you need to win it."

Fourth-seeded UCLA (43-11-1) is at the top of its game. In last week's regionals, the Bruins played near-flawless defense and received contributions from throughout their batting order in outscoring their opponents, 31-6.

Enquist would not announce her starter for today's game, but sophomore Amanda Freed started three regional games for UCLA.

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