Donna Kerr pitched a one-hit shutout against the Washington Huskies just two Saturdays ago.
Freshman pitcher Jessica Hall followed the senior’s performance with four shut-out innings before Kerr returned to seal the Bruins’ 5-2 victory.
It was the first time in two weeks that the Bruins were able to pick up consecutive victories, and the Hall-Kerr duo served as a momentary stabilizer.
But the No. 8 Bruins (31-13, 7-8 Pac-10) soon found that Jolene Henderson and the No. 9 California Bears (34-9, 10-5) were certain to ensure that there would be no win streak.
Against Washington, UCLA was able to score 10 of its 12 runs off of home runs, but the offense was nowhere near as explosive against Cal’s ace hurler.
Henderson, a 2010 Second-Team All-Pac-10 selection, struck out 25 Bruins in three consecutive starts and upped her overall record to 30-6 as the Bears swept the Bruins.
Her win total, along with her astounding 0.79 earned run average, are both tops in the NCAA.
“What sets her apart is her backdoor curveball,” UCLA junior left fielder Andrea Harrison said. “The thing with that pitch is that it starts off the plate and ends over the plate. We weren’t making the adjustment to continue to be aggressive.”
While Henderson shut down the Bruin offense, the UCLA defense struggled to contain Cal.
In the opening game, the Bears wreaked havoc on the base paths and frustrated the Bruin defense with five infield hits. Kerr picked up the loss, giving up 10 hits and six earned runs over five innings of work in UCLA’s 7-2 defeat.
“Our goal in the next couple of months is to be able to play solid defense because timely hits are going to be there,” coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “Pitching and defense wins championships.”
Hall also had an opportunity from the circle, but nothing much changed.
After giving up three singles, a pair of walks and hitting a batter in the first inning of the second game, Hall surrendered a grand slam to the Bears’ junior right fielder Elia Reid, which put the Bruins back seven runs.
The UCLA freshman was pulled after pitching just a third of an inning, and UCLA would eventually be mercy-ruled for the first time this year, 9-1.
“We got better each day from Friday through Sunday,” senior third baseman GiOnna DiSalvatore said. “We have to carry the good things out of this and bring it to the next weekend.”
With the score tied at one run apiece in the final game of the series, Elia Reid was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and her twin sister, junior left fielder Jamia Reid, connected on a walk-off single, and the Bears completed the sweep with a 2-1 win.
“We didn’t execute, and credit Cal, they did a great job fighting back and taking the game,” Inouye-Perez said. “It came down to the end, and those are the kind of things that happen in the Pac-10.”