Down to its last three outs and trailing by a run, the UCLA softball team knew what to do.
As a Wednesday afternoon wore on at Easton Stadium, the No. 6 Bruins (27-5) flipped their visors and helmets backward, well cognizant that a rally wouldn’t be complete without their rally caps.
And as if on cue, that late surge was executed to near-perfection, as the Bruins ““ funky fashionistas and all ““ scored two runs in the final inning for a 5-4 win over Loyola Marymount (16-20).
“I was super pleased,” said freshman shortstop Kellie Fox, who drove home the go-ahead run. “We put on our rally caps in that seventh inning, and we weren’t going to give up.”
That’s not to say the team was in panic mode. According to coach Kelly Inouye-Perez, the Bruins maintained their poise, even in the face of their first potential home loss.
“It’s about mentality, to be able to go into a situation like that, work together and have great quality at-bats,” she said. “Nobody came up and swung from their shoes. (The players) came up and simply executed together, and that’s a sign of a great team-over-self mentality.”
Things looked promising from the start for UCLA, which snagged a 3-0 lead through five innings.
But junior Aleah Macon, pitching in relief for freshman Jessica Hall, got into a jam in the sixth, surrendering a grand slam to the Lions’ Kelly Sarginson that gave LMU the lead.
But up came the top of UCLA’s batting order in the bottom of the seventh, and the offense came to life immediately. After the Bruins reeled off two straight singles to open the frame, senior third baseman GiOnna DiSalvatore made it three in a row to bring home the tying run.
LMU then loaded the bases with an intentional walk to junior left fielder Andrea Harrison, only to lose the game on Fox’s clutch single.
“There were no outs, and I was just seeing the ball big ““ no pressure at all,” Fox said.
UCLA next hosts Stanford (24-7) for a three-game series held Friday through Sunday. It will be a chance for the Bruins to face the Cardinal’s sophomore pitcher Teagan Gerhart for the first time, after Gerhart missed the series last season with an injury.
“Playing Stanford is always a good battle,” DiSalvatore said. “We didn’t get to face Teagan last year, but I hear she’s a good pitcher, so I’m excited to compete against her.”
UCLA junior Samantha Camuso made her first appearance of the season Wednesday after undergoing hip surgery in December. She went 1-for-3 as the designated player.