Advertisement

UCLA Catcher Reaches Record

College softball: Nuveman ties NCAA home run mark of 85 with two-run blast in victory over Stanford.

April 28, 2002|CHRISTINA TELLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Stacey Nuveman makes her home behind the plate, but it's what UCLA's catcher does in the batter's box that has generated the most attention.

Nuveman, a 6-foot senior from La Verne, on Saturday tied the NCAA softball career home run record, shared by former Arizona players Leah Braatz and Laura Espinoza. Her two-run shot in the third inning off Stanford's Maureen LeCocq was the 85th in her career and her 15th of the season, and it helped the Bruins (43-6, 11-3 in conference play) to a 13-2 Pacific 10 Conference victory.

Nuveman knew the record was within her reach. After all, she hit 20 home runs her freshman season, 31 as a sophomore and 19 last season. But after hitting only eight home runs in 35 nonconference games this year, the milestone didn't appear much closer.

Since the start of Pac-10 play, however, Nuveman has seven home runs in 14 conference games.

UCLA's top slugger is also a disciplined hitter who leads the team with a .537 batting average.

Her patience at the plate paid off against Washington earlier this week. In the bottom of the sixth, UCLA trailed, 3-0, when Nuveman came up with the bases loaded. But instead of trying to clear them with one swing, Nuveman drilled a two-strike pitch up the middle to drive in a run.

Two batters later, sophomore Claire Sua became the day's hero with a grand slam over the center-field fence. Nuveman cheered the loudest.

"A lot of kids would have been hacking for the fence, but [Nuveman] really stayed within herself," Coach Sue Enquist said. "That was very impressive. Those are the things that are going to get us to the end."

Asked what she is most proud of as a softball player and Nuveman will talk about the 2000 Olympics. Not the gold medal she won as a member of the U.S. team, but of the perspective and focus she gained from the experience.

"Talk about pressure and a big game--it doesn't get any bigger than that," Nuveman said. "Perspective-wise, it's helped a lot because I've been on the biggest stage and I know what it feels like. Now, when I come out here, I take the game for what it's worth and not let things get too big."

Though her name is in the record book, records are made to be broken, and Nuveman is fine with that.

"If I break both knees tomorrow and softball's over for me, I know I've developed the person," she said, "and that's something that goes beyond the white lines. That will take me lot farther than a home run record."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|