By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
With one out in the sixth inning Bruin head softball coach Kelley Inouye-Perez made her way slowly to the circle at Hall of Fame Stadium. She pulled pitcher Rachel Garcia and moments later you could see the two embracing on the dugout bench. Garcia
had given her all. In the third she even gave the team the lead as she went to “Rip City”with a 3-run blast to right. That wasn’t enough in a 10-3 loss to Oklahoma.
“Just having a moment with coach, I will be grateful to her,” said Garcia. “She gave me an opportunity to get my degree at the number one university and I am in my last moment as a Bruin I am super honored.”
After a nearly three-hour rain-delay the two-time Player of the Year had given up seven runs on six hits to Oklahoma the number one seed in the tournament.
Time and time again Garcia (18-3) was called on to help anyway possible. Teammate Megan Faraimo did not make the trip to OKC due to an injury.
After holding the Sooners (52-3) scoreless the first two innings the future Olympian gave up 2-runs in the 3rd and 4th innings. They then added one in the fifth and five in the sixth.
After scoring a season low three runs on opening game against James Madison the Sooners scored 18 runs in the next two games.
“We weren’t able to get it done I’m proud of my team and proud of Rachel Garcia,” said Inouye Perez.
“She chose to come back and do all she could to help this program. She was put in a position to have to do it all, but nobody blames her, she gave it all she had and I told her this is not about something you have to prove, you’ve left your mark on the game, you have done it you are going to continue to have a future.
The Bruins (47-7) began the tourney with a 4-0 shutout over 10th seeded Florida State. Garcia gave up five hits, two walks and 11 strikeouts. It was her seventh double digit strikeout
game of the season. The teams super ace struck out the side in the 4th and had easy one, two, three outings in the fifth and closed out the game with another one in the seventh. Kathy Sadercock (24-3) took the loss for the Seminoles.
Anna Vines made the defense shine by making a diving stop in the third. This was the first WCWS appearance. The Redshirt sophomore watched from the bench during the 2019 championship run.
She got the Bruins on the board first after hitting a high chopper up the middle scoring the speedy Kinsley Washington.
In the 6th Delanie Wisz doubled in two runs to increase the lead to 3-1, Maya Brady then went “Uptown” with a blast to right center. The redshirt freshman jetted around the bases at lighting speed. “I just wanted to get back and see my teammates as fast as I could” said Brady.
The Bruins may not have gotten a title this year but tradition and history says they will be right back there next year. Garcia and Bubba Nichols will head to the Olympics this summer.
They were on the wrong side of a perfect game for the first time since 2001 as Alabama’s Founts shutout UCLA 6-0. With the early exit of Arizona This marked the first time since 2016 there will not have a PAC-12 team in the WCWS finals.
In the case of Rachel, good players are a dime a dozen, truly great players are very hard to come by. Inouye-Perez summed it up perfectly.
“For all of us were just sad that she’s leaving the ‘Bruin Bubble’ and I am so proud I will take Rachel Garcia any day of the week”