Monday, December 9

Pitchers dominate as Bruin softball strikes down Cardinal

The No. 3 Bruins used just two pitchers over the course of three games in the series against unranked Stanford, but were still able to take two of the three games. (Alice Naland/Daily Bruin)

The No. 3 Bruins used just two pitchers over the course of three games in the series against unranked Stanford, but were still able to take two of the three games. (Alice Naland/Daily Bruin)

As the battle for total national championships rages on, the Bruins and Cardinal met once again, this time on the softball field and with no championship at stake.

No. 3 UCLA (34-3, 9-3 Pac-12) went on to take two out of three against Stanford (21-16, 2-7) and win its third Pac-12 series in a row.

In the three games that were played this weekend, UCLA used just two pitchers. Senior pitcher Selina Ta’amilo totaled 16 1/3 innings in the circle over the three games – she started Friday and Sunday and then came in for relief Saturday.

“(Ta’amilo) did an outstanding job this weekend,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “To be put in a position where you have the ball three days in a row says a lot about her.”

Ta’amilo needed just 81 pitches to pick up her eighth win and second complete game of the season in Friday’s opener. In her seven innings of work, four of them were 1-2-3 frames. She struck out three and allowed two hits, one earned run and one walk.

With freshman infielder Briana Perez out, freshman infielder Kinsley Washington played shortstop and had leadoff duties for this weekend.

Washington, who acts as a utility for the team, has spent most of the year as the starting first baseman.

“It was fun for me because I’ve been a shortstop all my life and throughout travel ball,” Washington said. “Playing first is a new experience and it was fun to be back at shortstop, but as a utility I’ll be playing everywhere.”

In the opening inning, sophomore utility Bubba Nickles drove in two runs with a single to right. The next three runs for the Bruins each came from solo shots. In the second, junior catcher Taylor Pack connected for her second home run of the year. In the next inning, senior infielder Kylee Perez and Nickles both launched one over the wall, their second and fifth of the year respectively.

The Cardinal would eventually cross home plate, too, with their two runs coming in the fourth. But that was all that Ta’amilo would allow as she proceeded to retire 11 of the last 12 to secure the 5-2 win.

A shutout by the Bruins highlighted Saturday night’s game. Freshman pitcher Holly Azevedo and Ta’amilo combined for UCLA’s 12th shutout of the season, and the first of Pac-12 play.

In her 12th start, Azevedo lasted 4 2/3 innings striking out one with two hits and two walks. She recorded 1-2-3 innings in the third and fourth during her stint of striking out nine consecutive batters.

In relief, Ta’amilo picked up where she left off on Friday. She walked two and only gave up one hit, earning her second save of the year.

After two scoreless innings, the Bruins drew the first run in the third. The bases were loaded for junior infielder Brianna Tautalafua who tapped a dribbler to third for the RBI groundout.

In the sixth, the bases were loaded again for senior infielder Madeline Jelenicki who sent a screamer to the right field wall for a two-run double.

Stanford showed signs of life in the final frame with the bases loaded with no outs, but Ta’amilo pitched out of it to clinch the win 3-0.

“I felt good out there,” Ta’amilo said. “Physically, I don’t think about the pitch count too much. It’s all mental for me just going in and getting outs.”

In Sunday’s finale the 841 fans saw Stanford avoid the sweep with a 4-1 victory over UCLA.

Ta’amilo took the ball again and pitched another complete game with two strikeouts and allowed eight hits, one earned run and one walk.

For the first time this series, Stanford was the first team to earn the first run of the game. All of its runs came in the third inning off UCLA’s two fielding errors.A throwing error from junior catcher Paige Halstead moved runners to second and third with no outs and an intentional walk loaded the bases. Left fielder Hannah Howell singled for the games first run, and shortly after shortstop Kristina Inouye singled to redshirt freshman left fielder Aaliyah Jordan, who misplayed a hop and had to chase the ball as it rolled past her.

The fielding error cleared the bases for three more runs. Later in the game Jordan made up for her error by throwing out a runner trying to stretch a single into a double.

In the seventh, down 4-1, the Bruins were able to get the tying run to the plate in Jordan, who made good contact but to no avail as it went right to the center fielder to close out the game and the series.

“I’m proud that we won the series,” Inouye-Perez said. “Bottom line is that we fought the first two days and on day three we just were not the better team.”

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Sports staff

Veal is currently a Sports staff writer for the men's soccer beat. softball and women's water polo beats. He was previously a reporter for the softball, women's water polo and cross country beats.

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