The original headline accompanying this article contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information.
Heading into the final weekend of the regular season as No. 15, UCLA softball was attempting to better its postseason seeding with a series win.
The Bruins tried to influence the selection committee to let them host a regional, winning two of three games against the Oregon State Beavers over the weekend.
“Our rankings are on the verge of top 16 or not, so it was definitely important to win this series,” said junior pitcher Jessica Hall.
UCLA (37-18, 10-14 Pac-12) finished tied for fifth place in the highly competitive Pac-12 conference. However, the team’s .417 winning percentage in conference play is the second worst in team history and its lowest since 1998.
The Bruins found out late Sunday that they will head to the Louisville regional after failing to earn a top-16 seed necessary to host a regional. After getting off to a rough 3-9 conference start, the Bruins were able to turn it around, compiling a 7-5 record over the final four series.
“I think the key to the turnaround was our team staying together as one,” said sophomore shortstop Stephany LaRosa. “You’re not always going to get the outcome, but being able to take those losses and learn from them is huge and that’s what we did.”
In the first game of the series, UCLA lost an early lead that it was unable to reclaim in a 3-2 loss. The Bruin offense was only able to muster four hits.
They bounced back with 11 hits in the second game of the series and were able to nudge a 4-3 victory off home runs from senior outfielder B.B. Bates and sophomore pitcher Ally Carda. Carda later drove in what ended up as the winning run.
In the finale, the Beavers and the Bruins were locked in a 1-1 tie until UCLA broke open the game with seven runs in the top of the sixth to seal the series victory.
After getting double-digit hits in the final two games, UCLA heads to the postseason with a 19-1 record when it records 10 or more hits as opposed to 18-17 record when it has less than 10.
Hall had success in the circle, picking up two victories by pitching all seven innings in game two of the series and coming on for four innings of scoreless relief in the finale.
“I think just having control of all my pitches, being able to work the off-speed in any count, I think has been able to keep the hitters off balance,” Hall said. “I know I’m not a strikeout pitcher and I need to let my defense work and they definitely had my back this weekend.”
Though UCLA will not be at home for the playoffs, the team feels it can perform on the road. They will open the NCAA tournament against the University of Alabama Birmingham.
“We would all love to stay home, but we put ourselves in a position where that’s not guaranteed,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “At this point, we’re going to the postseason, so anybody that we can play and wherever we play, bring it on.”
Correction: Louisville was misspelled.