Monday, October 23

UCLA softball ends Hawai’i upset streak with 5-2 win

Up until this game, the Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine had been on an absolute tear through the NCAA Tournament, disrupting the balance of power in the postseason.

Not only did the No. 16 Wahine down No. 9 Missouri on Thursday, the team also toppled top-seeded Alabama earlier in the playoffs to launch itself into the Women’s College World Series.

Enter the Bruins.

Behind some stellar pitching and a potent and timely offense, No. 5 UCLA (47-11) did what other teams have struggled to do thus far, defeating Hawai’i (50-15) 5-2 in its second game of the World Series in Oklahoma City.

It was a simply relentless performance coming on the heels of Thursday’s lopsided 16-3 victory over No. 4 Florida. The Bruins are now one win away from advancing to the championship series.

“I’m very proud of my team’s fight,” coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “It was a great night to be able to see consolidating, especially some really solid defense and ultimately a really gutsy performance by Megan Langenfeld in the circle against a very talented Hawai’i team. But I think ultimately, the Bruins are on a mission.”

On Thursday, UCLA kicked off the festivities with a three-run first inning. Today, the Bruins again struck first with three runs in the second, thanks to a two-run shot from sophomore right fielder Samantha Camuso ““ her sixth home run of the postseason ““ and a sacrifice fly from senior catcher Kaila Shull.

The Bruins added another insurance run on senior third baseman Julie Burney’s solo home run in the fourth and were seemingly well on their way to another breezy victory.

But a Hawai’i team that came into the game boasting an NCAA record of 156 home runs on the season added another long ball to its resume. After having fouled off 14 consecutive pitches from Langenfeld, the Wahine’s Alexandra Aguirre belted a two-run shot to left in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 4-2 game.

Still, the senior pitcher did not waver.

“My mentality, especially after that home run, was to get back to what I was doing in the first few innings,” Langenfeld said. “I noticed my pitches were starting to get up and that the hitters were putting some more barrel on the ball, so I wanted to get back to painting the corners (of the plate) and keeping the ball low.”

All season long, the Bruins had been stressing the importance of having one another’s backs, and that was certainly the case in the following inning.

With one out in the fifth inning, sophomore Andrea Harrison squared up a 1-1 pitch and sent it deep to center field, all but quelling any possibility of a Wahine rally.

“Megan was up before me, and she didn’t get on base, so she looked at me and said, “˜Hey, have my back right here,’” Harrison said. “I had a plan; I was going to hit the up-and-in pitch, but (Hawaii’s Kaia Parnaby) got me to pop up the inning before, so I sat on that pitch and it went out.”

It was all Langenfeld the rest of the way, as she went on to retire eight of the last 11 batters she faced.

With two consecutive wins in the World Series, the Bruins have the day off on Saturday before returning to the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Sunday.

“We still have some schoolwork that we need to take care of, but softball-wise, it’s great to have that day off and let our bodies rest,” Langenfeld said.

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