After sustaining its fourth consecutive Pac-12 series loss against Utah last weekend, UCLA softball’s season looked dead in the water.
With No. 8 California (32-8, 7-5 Pac-12) coming to Easton Stadium, there would be no lifeguard on duty to rescue the drowning No. 19 Bruins (28-14, 5-10).
UCLA, however, was able to tread water and win its first Pac-12 series of the year by taking two of three games from the Golden Bears. With both of these victories coming on extra inning walk-offs, the Bruins showed that they are still alive and swimming.
“We can just breathe now,” said senior outfielder B.B. Bates.
In the national spotlight on ESPN2 on Thursday night, the Bruins got off to a shaky start on defense with an error that led to four unearned runs.
“I think when we do have innings like that it’s nice to know that it was the first inning,” said sophomore shortstop Stephany LaRosa, who committed the error. “It’s a long ballgame … so (I) didn’t really think much of it, came back out and battled.”
And battle they did. LaRosa led the charge in the fourth when her fly ball to right field was misplayed and allowed her to score. Junior pitcher Jessica Hall tied the game with a two-run home run.
In the seventh inning, with the team behind a run and down to its final strike, LaRosa singled up the middle to tie the game. The Bruins won on a walk-off in the ninth when sophomore pitcher Ally Carda hit it to the shortstop, who made a bad throw home that allowed the game-winning run to score.
“This team has fight. If you look at us lately, we haven’t really been getting the outcome, but they had fight from the beginning of the season,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez.
On Friday night, the teams took a tie game into the bottom of the seventh, where it looked like UCLA might walk-off as Hall stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. She fouled out and freshman third Mysha Sataraka grounded out to send the game to extras again.
“I knew what they were throwing me and I think I still swung at a bad pitch, just because I wanted it so bad,” Hall said.
In the bottom of the ninth, Hall got her chance at redemption. She swung at the right pitch this time, as she hit a single over the shortstop’s head to score Carda for the walk-off win.
UCLA could not finish the sweep on Saturday as the game headed into extras for the third straight day, the first time that had happened to the Bruins since March 1986. The Bears pulled away in the top of the 10th to win 5-1, but this did not dampen the Bruins’ spirits.
“We were carrying the momentum from the two first wins into this game and even though we didn’t get the win that just struck more fire in us for the rest of the season,” Carda said.