With the team teetering on the brink of an utter weekend collapse, a pair of unsung Bruins delivered one mother of a tandem performance.
Prior to Sunday’s game, the UCLA softball team had already lost the first two games of the series to Arizona, stretching its losing streak to six games.
But on a special Mother’s Day when the seniors were commemorated in their last regular-season home game, it was sophomore pitcher Destiny Rodino and sophomore center fielder Devon Lindvall who got the rare starts and starred on the field.
Rodino pitched five innings of one-run ball to hold the Wildcats at bay, while Lindvall had two hits ““ including a home run ““ and a crowd-pleasing catch to spark the No. 12 Bruins (32-15, 8-10 Pac-10) to a 5-1 win Sunday at Easton Stadium against the No. 11 Wildcats (39-14, 10-8).
“Destiny and I have always had that connection on the field, so I just love being able to have her back,” said Lindvall, who played together with Rodino at Hart High School.
“Devon clutched up, and that’s what she does; she’s a great outfielder and a great hitter, and the game paid her back,” Rodino added. “I trusted my defense behind me, 100 percent, so they get all the credit.”
With the Bruins holding a slim 3-1 lead and a Wildcat runner on first in the top of the fifth inning, Arizona’s senior left fielder Brittany Lastrapes smacked a pitch from Rodino toward center field for what appeared to be a double, but Lindvall smothered the ball into her glove for the final out, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
“The catch was game-changing,” UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “If that ball goes over or goes off the wall, it’s a whole other ball game. For (Lindvall) to make that play ““ it really knocked the wind out of (Arizona).”
Lindvall then sent a lead-off, solo shot to right in the bottom of the inning and went on to drive in another run in the next inning to extend the lead to 5-1.
Freshman pitcher Jessica Hall relieved Rodino in the sixth and tossed two hitless innings to preserve the win.
In Friday’s series opener, the Bruins got on the board first when freshman shortstop Kellie Fox hit a home run to left field in the first. But the Wildcats’ sophomore pitcher Kenzie Fowler showed why she is one of the Pac-10’s elite pitchers, limiting UCLA to just three hits while striking out 11 batters to lead her team to a 5-1 victory.
Saturday’s game proved to be more of the same, with the Bruins struggling to muster any offense and losing 7-1.
Freshman catcher Alyssa Tiumalu’s at-bat in the fourth inning against Arizona’s freshman pitcher Shelby Babcock was indicative of the Bruins perseverance, however, as Tiumalu went 12 pitches before finally landing a bloop single in shallow right field.
“I’ve been kind of in a slump, and I was just thinking to myself, “˜I’m not getting out,'” Tiumalu said. “I was just trying to touch the ball, and I finally got it.”
Even after the Bruins dropped their second straight game to the Wildcats, junior catcher Dani Yudin expressed optimism heading into Sunday’s contest, in which she knew the Bruins would be facing Babcock once again.
“It’s kind of sweet because we’ve already seen her so many times, and we know her, and we have so much video on her,” Yudin said after Saturday’s game. “All we have to do is execute, and we know we can.”
And at least for one day, the Bruins certainly executed, salvaging the weekend with a gutsy salvo of a win.
“(Sunday’s) game was huge for our momentum,” Lindvall said. “It was good for us to get our rhythm back because we’re going into the end of our season.”