Thursday, July 18

Softball fails in search of comeback 14, ends season in two Florida State losses

UCLA softball's season came to an end after falling to Florida State not once but twice Sunday. (Grant Mooney/Daily Bruin)

UCLA softball's season came to an end after falling to Florida State not once but twice Sunday. (Grant Mooney/Daily Bruin)

This time, the Bruins could not chip away at yet another 4-0 deficit.

No. 3 seed UCLA softball (58-7) fell to No. 6 seed Florida State (56-12) by 12-6 after trailing 4-0 early on for the third time in the Women’s College World Series. Every time the Seminoles put up runs in the top of an inning, UCLA would answer with runs of its own.

But the Bruins could not get closer than a 2-run margin.

Florida State became the first team to complete a two-game Sunday sweep from the loser’s bracket in the semifinals since 2011 to reach its program’s first-ever WCWS final.

In the first semifinal game, UCLA clung onto a 1-0 lead for the majority of the game after redshirt sophomore pitcher Rachel Garcia’s RBI single to left field – her first hit of the WCWS.

However, Florida State’s Elizabeth Mason homered to center field, giving the Seminoles a 3-1 lead. It was the only scoring Florida State would do, but it was enough to force a second semifinal contest later that same day.

Garcia allowed eight hits and one walk, and earned just her fifth loss of the season. Florida State’s Meghan King struck out 10 of the 30 batters she faced.

The two teams faced off in an elimination game about an hour later. Garcia, who had totaled 384 pitches over three games in four days, started in the circle. The redshirt sophomore turned in a scoreless first inning, but Florida State’s hitters were jumping on Garcia early, so she was replaced by senior Selina Ta’amilo in the second frame.

UCLA made three total pitching changes as a result of Florida State’s 4-run second inning, which included two homers. Junior catcher Taylor Pack responded with a 2-run home run to cut it to 4-2, but the deficit only got bigger from there.

In the fourth frame, Florida State’s Sydney Sherrill hit a 3-run home run, while Pack answered once again with a 2-RBI single. But the Seminoles still led 7-4.

An inning later, Florida State’s Carsyn Gordon homered to left field, tacking on 3 more runs to Zoe Casas’ RBI double earlier in the same inning.

The Bruins found themselves in danger of being run-ruled for the first time all year, going into the bottom of the fifth down 8 runs, but a solo home run by freshman shortstop Briana Perez kept UCLA’s season alive for two more innings.

And though UCLA would tack on another run after that thanks to a solo shot from sophomore center fielder Bubba Nickles, the Bruins couldn’t complete their 14th comeback win for chance to play Washington in their 19th WCWS final.

The two teams combined for a total of seven home runs, tallying the most home runs ever in a seven-inning WCWS game.

Sunday was only the second time in program history that the Bruins dropped two consecutive games after only needing one win to advance to the WCWS final.

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Assistant Sports editor

Hong is an assistant Sports editor for the women's basketball, men's water polo, women's water polo, women's tennis, and beach volleyball beats. She previously contributed for the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats.

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