Monday, October 23

UCLA softball goes 3-2 at Cathedral City Classic

This past weekend, the No. 4 UCLA softball team was immediately at the brink of a major letdown. Then there were moments of dominance, furious rallies and invigorating momentum shifts. There were extra innings, then a silent humbling. The Bruins really had a taste of five completely different games at the Cathedral City Classic.

The Bruins’ weekend could have easily fallen apart following their performance against Colorado State last Friday, but in a sense it foreshadowed a difficult road ahead.

It was perhaps a tune-up for the slew of ranked opponents that headlined the classic, and the Bruins went through the motions and got by in doing so, building a 3-1 lead against the Rams after four innings.

But in the ensuing inning, the Rams tied it at three after an infield single and an error. After the Bruins tallied a run, the Rams threatened again with runners on first and second after reaching on a single and an error. Only after sophomore Aleah Macon struck out the final batter were the Bruins able to escape with a one-run victory.

A more urgent UCLA softball team showed up midway through the nightcap against No. 13 Texas (11-2).

The Bruins went yard four times and mounted an impressive two-out three-run rally in the fifth capped by second baseman GiOnna DiSalvatore’s three-run homer that put the Bruins up 7-1. Left fielder Andrea Harrison later singled freshman B.B. Bates home to give the Bruins a dominating 9-1 mercy-rule win.

All this came after Texas plated the first run in the third. It seemed as if the Bruins finally found their groove.

They rode their 11-game winning streak in to face the Baylor Bears the next day and promptly got handled.

Before they could recover, the Bruins were staring at their first five-run deficit of the season.

“The inability of our pitchers to be able to execute getting lead-off outs, putting too many lead-off batters on base, walking hitters and allowing them to advance runners, and our defense not being able to play catch definitely cost us,” coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said.

Though UCLA would narrow the gap to 5-3 on a homer from freshman Charlotte Dolan, the Bears would capitalize on a throwing error in the top half of the seventh to tack on a couple more runs. A desperate last-inning rally would not be enough as the Bruins lost 7-5.

Against a tough, ranked Northwestern team, the Bruins clawed their way to a victory in a back and forth matchup. With the score tied at two in the fifth, Dolan hit a three-run homer that gave the Bruins breathing room. Dolan’s home run was answered immediately by a three-run home run by Northwestern catcher Emily Haug in the bottom half.

Though the Bruins were unable to capitalize on a no-out, runners on second and third situation in the top of the seventh, UCLA piled on five runs in the eighth against a fatigued Northwestern team, and senior Megan Langenfeld completed the game by retiring the side to give the Bruins an invigorating 10-5 extra inning victory.

“It was a battle ““ they fought, and we punched back,” Inouye-Perez said. “It was a dogfight. It came down to who wanted it more and was able to execute to win the ball game. We kept on pounding it. We were able to knock the wind out of the opponent.”

After a quality win against Northwestern, the Bruins faced No. 16 Ohio State. The opportunistic Buckeyes, much like the Bears, took advantage of every Bruin mistake, jumping out to an early lead against Langenfeld and never looked back en route to a 7-0 demolishing.

It certainly wasn’t the way the Bruins envisioned the weekend to end, and a midweek game against UC Riverside (4-9) could prove to be a gut check.

“This game is going to important,” Langenfeld said. “We really need to make adjustments sooner, and our pitching needs to be stronger during the games. This weekend was an eye-opening experience and certainly a learning experience.”

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