Wednesday, October 18

Softball out-pitched in Washington duel

Huskies' star pitcher proves too much for UCLA despite initial win in weekend series

Junior second baseman GiOnna DiSalvatore and the No. 5 softball team dropped their series finale against No. 1 Washington in a 7-2 loss.

Junior second baseman GiOnna DiSalvatore and the No. 5 softball team dropped their series finale against No. 1 Washington in a 7-2 loss. Evan Luxenberg

Just a little over a month after the loss against UC Riverside, the No. 5 UCLA softball team (27-6, 1-2 Pac-10) put its 12-game winning streak on the line against No. 1 Washington (30-3, 2-1 Pac-10) Thursday.

Armed with former National Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie, the defending champion Huskies expected to ride Lawrie’s arm to victory over the Bruins. Lawrie flaunted an 18-0 record while posting an earned run average of less than one.

And if the depleted UCLA roster had to lean on someone, it would be junior pitcher Donna Kerr, who leads the team in innings pitched, strikeouts and wins.

It sounded like a pitching duel right off the bat; the flow of the game certainly proved to be so as well, as both pitchers held the potent offenses in check.

“It was an intense game,” Kerr said. “Lawrie pitched an awesome game, but we were able to push one run in and luckily that was all we needed.”

Scoreless into the sixth, the Bruins broke through after pinch runner Grace Murray, who moved over to third after a sacrifice by junior GiOnna DiSalvatore and a groundout by senior Julie Burney, scored on a base hit to right field from sophomore Dani Yudin.

“I just told myself that I have to get something to hit onto the green, especially because there were two outs and only a base hit would score her,” Yudin said.

However, the Huskies were not finished as they were able to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh with two outs. Washington right fielder Kimi Pohlman subsequently grounded to short, but Bailey Stenson, who was advancing from second, collided with DiSalvatore, who was playing short. The umpire ruled runner’s interference and the game was called, allowing the Bruins to escape with a narrow 1-0 victory.

On Friday, the second game of the series, the Bruins scored first, off a leadoff homer in the third from Samantha Camuso. However, the Huskies responded immediately in the bottom half of the inning after the leadoff batter walked on four pitches and advanced to third on a throwing error by senior center Kaila Shull. The unearned run was brought in on a sacrifice fly to even the score at one apiece.

Three innings in, the game was postponed due to rain.

Play resumed Saturday and the Bruins immediately had an opportunity to score in the fourth. With runners on second and third and just one out, freshman Devon Lindvall struck out looking and freshman B.B. Bates fouled out to third.

“There are really some basic dynamics of the game that we need to work on,” coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “If we don’t execute, we won’t get the outcome. We had a challenge ““ the rain, the weather, the cold, the on and off ““ all of that is part of the game and we knew that coming to Washington. We still have to get out there and play quality softball.”

If weather played a factor, what really was backbreaking can be attributed to the bottom half of the sixth. Forcing the first two batters to fly out to left, Kerr was seemingly in control and could get out of the inning with little damage.

However, after three walks, a hit batter, and just one hit ““ a double down the left field line ““ Kerr, and the Bruins, felt the game quickly slip out of their grasp as they fell 3-1.

In the third contest, Lawrie threw a brilliant game, striking out eight in a little more than five innings of work en route to a dominating 7-2 win for the Huskies.

Despite dropping the final two games, the team really feels the series could have gone either way.

“We believe that we could have walked away with three wins. What it comes to is that we didn’t execute well on the little things. We have to work on it and get better at it,” Inouye-Perez said.

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