Game one of the 2018 Women’s College World Series brought with it a new feeling for UCLA.
Last year the Bruins dropped their first game of the WCWS. This year, however, No. 3 UCLA softball (56-5) beat No. 6 Florida State (52-11) 7-4 in their 13th comeback victory of the year.
The Bruins were down 4-1 in the sixth inning after redshirt sophomore pitcher Rachel Garcia gave up 4 runs in top of the fifth.
Senior first baseman Madeline Jelenicki hit a ground ball to third base with sophomore center fielder Bubba Nickels on first nearly resulting in a double play, but Seminoles’ first baseman Carsyn Gordon was pulled off the bag, and Jelenicki was safe at first.
After third baseman Briana Tautalafua singled up the right side and put Jelenicki on second, junior catcher Taylor Pack singled to left field and loaded the bases for freshman outfielder Julie Rodriguez.
Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score pinch runner junior Stevie Wisz. It was now 4-2, and with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, senior second baseman Kylee Perez was up to bat.
Perez was already 2-for-3 on the day, logging the 298th and 299th hits of her collegiate career. Number 300 would come in dramatic fashion.
The third pitch of the at-bat from pitcher Kylee Hanson was moving away from the lefty hitter, but it didn’t matter. She reached across the plate and launched a moonshot over the right field wall for the 300th hit of her career.
Perez’s home run was the Bruins’ only one of the game, gave them a 5-4 lead and though they tacked on two more after that, it was all they needed to seal their first win of the WCWS.
Garcia turned in a spotless sixth inning and sealed the win for the Bruins. The sophomore threw 146 pitches in her complete game effort, struck out 15 of 31 batters faced and garnered her 28th win of the season.
The Bruins will head to the winner’s bracket game and face the No. 2 Florida Gators tomorrow night.