Friday, July 19

UCLA softball dominates weekend, winning 3 of 4 games

Coming off a spectacular 2009 season that ended abruptly with a playoff loss at home to Missouri in the NCAA tournament, the UCLA softball team has been anxious to get back onto the field, and the stacked field at the Dot Richardson’s National Collegiate Softball Invitational provided that much more of an incentive to do so.

But on Friday, the Florida storms had no intention of complying and did nothing to assist the No. 6 Bruins. So instead of having four games stretched throughout the three-day weekend, the Bruins were forced to play back-to-back double headers.

What the team did hope for was to rain on the parades of its competition, which included the likes of No. 16 Tennessee, No. 3 Michigan and No. 7 Georgia.

“We didn’t want to look back at last season, but focus on this season and the future,” senior pitcher Megan Langenfeld said. “You learn from the past but you don’t need to dwell on it, so we learned our lesson from last year and we were real excited to get going.”

With that, the Bruins mercy-ruled Florida Atlantic 11-0 in five innings and immediately followed that performance with an 11-1 drubbing of Tennessee.

Junior Donna Kerr struck out the first five batters she faced and with home runs from seniors Langenfeld and Kaila Shull and sophomore Samantha Camuso, the Bruins never looked back against FAU.

Against Tennessee, the Bruins took advantage of the Vol’s errors and notched six runs in the third.

Junior shortstop Monica Harrison led off the inning with a homer while miscues on the base paths enabled freshman B.B. Bates and junior Katie Schroeder to score after Tennessee catcher Tiffany Huff overthrew second base.

These victories came quickly, but little did the Bruins know that they were to play more innings against Michigan than they would against Florida Atlantic and Tennessee combined.

While the Bruins were able to rally each of the first two times the Wolverines scored, they were unable to do so again and Michigan was able to tally a pair of runs in the 13th off of a weary Langenfeld to seal the game.

With the Bruins down 2-1 in the 12th, Andrea Harrison hit a line drive to left field with Monica Harrison on second and Schroeder on first. The Michigan outfielder muffed the catch and let the ball dribble all the way to the wall, and coach Kelly Inouye-Perez sent Schroeder home.

The throw home was on target and Michigan catcher Roya St. Clair held on.

“We are aggressive with our speed,” Inouye-Perez said. “With Katie, we press and force the opposing defense to come up with plays. We had a great opportunity off of Andrea’s hit. But they made a perfect throw home. They came up with the play, and you have to give them credit.”

What perhaps fired the team up was what happened after the play.

With Schroeder and St. Clair tangled up at the plate, things got a little chippy, and it perhaps fired the Bruins up for the Georgia Bulldogs.

“After the loss, we were just ready to take it to the next team and the next team just happened to be Georgia,” Schroeder said. “In everything we do, we try to be competitive. Today was a good learning process.”

In the second game on Sunday, the Bruins rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the bottom of the sixth after Bates tripled in the tying run and Andrea Harrison grounded a ball through the shortstop’s legs to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.

Inouye-Perez summoned Langenfeld (1-1) to the mound again, a couple hours after her 182 pitch outing earlier in the morning against Michigan. Despite her fatigue, the junior delivered, striking out the first two and forcing a ground out to give the Bruins their third win of the weekend and starting pitcher Kerr her second.

“It shows us great character,” Inouye-Perez said. “What is really impressive about this team is that Georgia struck first and we answered right back. And they struck again and we answered again and went ahead. It was impressive how we battled against a very potent Georgia offensive team.”

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