In its regular season finale at Marks Stadium, the USC women’s tennis team looks to exact revenge on a UCLA squad that handed it a 5-2 loss earlier in the year.Coming off a 4-3 win at Pepperdine, the No. 6 Bruins (17-5, 6-1) have vaulted themselves into the top-10. The last time USC (14-6, 4-3) faced them, the Bruins were ranked No. 17.As with any matchup against UCLA, there is added incentive and pressure to perform well, something the coaching staff is well aware of.“With our seniors playing their last home match, I always worry about emotions staying in check,” said USC coach Richard Gallien. “If we can start off even keel and just get into a tough wrestling match, I believe we have every chance to win.”Following a loss last week to Arizona State’s Kelcy McKenna, senior Maria Sanchez once again faces a tough match against No. 60 McCall Jones. Although Jones has struggled lately, going 5-5 in her last 10 matches, the BYU transfer took Sanchez to a second-set tiebreaker in their previous matchup.Freshman Kaitlyn Christian will be back in action this week against UCLA, after injuring herself during practice against Arizona State last weekend. Christian will square off against Andrea Remynse.Although Christian lost the last time she played Remynse, she has matured into a strong force for USC, sitting at No. 124 nationally with a 23-8 record. With a 9-3 record in the third slot, Christian has become accustomed to seeing opposing team’s top competition.Sophomore Danielle Lao, who currently ranks No. 21, is matched up against No. 43 Noelle Hickey, who defeated her 6-3, 6-3 in Westwood earlier in the year. Hickey is coming off a loss last week in Malibu.Sophomore Valeria Pulido is back at full health after fighting off injury the last few weeks. She will look to break a three-match skid against UCLA’s Pamela Montez, who took her down 6-3, 6-1 in their previous matchup.Along with Sanchez, seniors Cristala Andrews and Lyndsay Kinstler will each get the start against the Bruins on Friday. Andrews will face 20-1 Carling Seguso on court six, while Kinstler will team with Danielle Lao to take on the doubles pair of Montez and Seguso in the third doubles spot.First serve is at 3 p.m. at Marks Stadium.
LOS ANGELES >> It is becoming an October tradition as reliable — and distasteful to some — as the insertion of pumpkin spice into every manner of food or drink.Pushed to the brink of elimination in their National League Division Series, the Dodgers wring their hands over whether to ask their ace, Clayton Kershaw, to return on three days’ rest to rescue them — and then they do it.Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was not prepared to make that announcement following the Game 3 loss to the Washington Nationals Monday, saying the coaching staff and front office were still “in talks” about what to do — the same answer he gave to questions about his Game 4 starter before the game.“You can make an argument either way,” Roberts said before the game. “That’s why it’s such a difficult decision.” “We still have to win two games,” Roberts said. “So the thought of having Julio pitch at home versus the road is something that we’re thinking through and what gives us the best chance to win two games. And obviously, yeah, you have to win (Tuesday) to win on Thursday (in Washington).”In the scenarios each of the past three falls, the Dodgers started Kershaw on three days’ rest comfortable in the knowledge that a rested Zack Greinke was available to pitch Game 5 (and he did last year against the New York Mets).This year, the rainout Saturday took away the option of starting a veteran pitcher on normal rest in Game 5.When his Game 2 start was pushed back a day by rain in Washington, Hill said he would be willing to start a game on short rest and dismissed any concerns about his blister issues as “irrelevant.” Roberts and the Dodgers’ staff clearly do not share that position.“I talked to Rich today, with no certainty. I know that he’s open to the idea of going on short rest but it’s something he hasn’t done,” Roberts said Monday. “With him, there’s going to be more conversations with the training staff to figure out that finger. And it’s not an arm thing with Rich. It’s more of how we are going to manage that blister.”Hill did spend a good portion of his career pitching out of the bullpen, so some kind of hybrid start with him and Urias somehow combining is also a possibility for Game 5.But first — they have to get there.“Whatever they decide to do, we’ve got to win ballgames,” Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen said. “No matter who’s starting, it’s not going to be up to one guy to do it.”Nationals manager Dusty Baker was not willing to announce his Game 4 starter Monday either, a move that smacked more of gamesmanship than actual debate. Joe Ross is the likely starter with Reynaldo Lopez also under consideration, according to Baker.Going into the series, Baker wouldn’t name any starter beyond Max Scherzer in Game 1, saying there was on-going discussion about what order to start Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez. When he did announce Roark as his Game 2 starter, Baker said it had been decided all along.“We were just kind of messing with you guys, to tell you the truth,” he said. The case to start Kershaw is obvious — the Dodgers face elimination with a loss. Do they dare send a 20-year-old rookie out to start an elimination game while their ace sits and watches, perhaps not pitching again until next spring, despite being willing to pitch on short rest and having a track record of performing well under those circumstances?Kershaw has started on short rest in the NLDS round each of the past three falls (including 2013 when the Dodgers were up 2-1 against the Atlanta Braves). They have won two of those three games. Kershaw has gone at least six innings each time, allowing six runs (four earned) in 19 innings with 0.74 WHIP and 23 strikeouts.When reporters clustered around his locker following the game Monday, an amiable Kershaw — much more amiable than you would expect if he had been told he wasn’t starting Tuesday — joked with reporters but declined to tip his hand.“Obviously you’d like to see your big guy,” Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager said. “But they know more than I do.”There is also a case to be made to start that 20-year-old rookie, Julio Urias. Using Kershaw to win Game 4 would leave them with a choice of starting Urias in another elimination game, Game 5, this time on the road or ask Rich Hill to start on three days’ rest. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error