By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
The UCLA softball team finds itself in a familiar position in the Super Regionals playing for a trip to the Women’s College Worlds Series. They will be trying to win their 14 National Title, the third under head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez.
The Bruins came a way with a 2-1 win over a tough Minnesota team. Megan Dray gave the BIG-10 team a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd inning with a homer to left off starter Megan Faraimo.
Rachel Garcia led off the fourth with a wicked single to shortstop Carlie Brant ruled a hit. Two batters later Maya Brady hit a double down the left field line scoring Jordan and Maya Brady, giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
In the sixth R. Garcia singled and Grace Guzman came into pinch-run. She later advanced to third. With one out Washington hit a fly to left field and Guzman tagged and came home. That would have made the score 3-1. When Gopher Coach Piper Ritter appealed to third base umpire Katrina Kershaw. The freshman was ruled out for leaving too soon ended the inning.
Garcia (16-0) came in to relieve Faraimo who pitched just 1-2/3 innings and gave up a solo homer to Dray Megan and had runners on base. Garcia had one-two-three innings in the 3rd, 4th, and 6th innings. The three-time PAC-12 Player of the Year pitched 5-1/3 giving up just one hit striking out 5 and didn’t walk a batter.
Early on the Bruins (44-4) had trouble hitting Autumn Pease (12-3) as she continuously changed speeds, fooling batters to the tune of seven strikeouts.
The Gophers (32-13, 29-11 Big Ten) showed grit as they fought off elimination twice on Saturday defeating Long Beach State 11-0 as Senior Amber Fisher (16-9) gave up just two hits in six innings of work.
The next game they topped Fresno State as Natalie DenHartong had two hits and drove in three runs for the Gophers in a 6-3 win over the Bulldogs (37-12, 20-4 MVC) which earned them a trip to the finals.
The Bulldogs Keahilele Mattson homered and doubled knocking in all 3 runs. The MWC Player and Co-Freshman of The Year finished the weekend with 5 hits 3 runs and 4 RBI’s.
FRIDAY: The Bruins opened the tourney against Long Beach State by scoring two runs in the first. Jordan scored on a fielder’s choice after being hit by a pitch. Brianna Perez singled, then scored later after Kinsley Washington worked a bases loaded walk.
The second inning was a power surge after a Kelli Godin walked and Jordan reached on an error, Perez ripped a homer over the right centerfield wall giving the Bruins a 5-0 lead. Next batter Rachel Garcia went “Uptown” with a shot that if it weren’t for the trees in the way would have landed on Sunset Blvd.
Delanie Wisz followed with a blast to left center. In the bottom of the fourth the Redshirt Junior hit her team leading 15th homer to help put the run-rule in effect.
“Super Sophomore” Megan Faraimo (18-3) tossed a two-hitter striking out 11 while walking just one on 91 pitches. Kellie White (16-7) took the loss for the 49ers.
SATURDAY: UCLA squared off against Fresno State. In the 5th inning Juliana Martinez pinch running for Hayleih Galvin scored on a double by Avery Lawley. That gave the Lady Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
In the seventh Jordan led off with a single. Lauryn Carter of Carson came into pinch run. She moved to second on a sac bunt by B. Perez. She then scored on a single to right by Rachel Garcia knotting the game at 1-1.
Alyssa Garcia walked to lead off the 8th. She advanced to 2nd on a sac bunt by Sharon Malu’ulu. Kinsley Washington doubled to center that was followed by a Jordan single scoring Washington and Garcia. Rachael Garcia walked then Delanie Wisz singled scoring Perez making the score 5-1.
The Bulldogs got three runs in the bottom of the eight before Garcia struck out Juliana Martinez to end the game with a 5-4 final.
SUPER REGIONALS: The Bruins will host VA. Tech at Easton Stadium: It’s the first trip since 2008 for the HOKIES (36-13). They took the Tempe Regionals winning three straight and out scoring their opponents 24-7. In the circle they are led by Keely Rochard the ACC Pitcher of the Year with a 28-8 record ,1.24 ERA to go with 326 strikeouts. Cam Fagan SS is the ACC Freshman of The Year. Kelsey Brown is the team’s leading hitter with a 398 average, 66 hits and 28 RBI’s
The opener will be Thursday 5/27 at 6:30 ESPN. Game 2 will be Friday at 6:30 on ESPN2 and GAME 3 (If necessary) will be Saturday 6:30 ESPN2.