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UCLA softball splits a doubleheader with Kentucky in extra innings

Redshirt freshman pitcher Rachel Garcia threw 13.2 innings of one-run ball in the No. 6 Bruins’ Wednesday doubleheader against No. 22 Kentucky. The one run was a solo home run in the top of the eleventh inning of game two that gave Kentucky the win. (Ken Shin/Daily Bruin)

By Christian Babcock

Feb. 16, 2017 1:39 a.m.

The day didn’t start well for UCLA softball. After half an inning in the first game of a doubleheader against Kentucky, they trailed 2-0.

But after the initial Kentucky outburst, the No. 6 Bruins quickly tacked on two runs and added three more in the second inning en route to a 6-2 win over the No. 22 Wildcats, after which they dropped the second game in an extra-innings marathon.

Junior pitcher Selina Ta’amilo struggled out of the gate against the top of Kentucky’s order in the first game, giving up three hits and two runs in the top of the first.

The tide of the game changed when coach Kelly Inouye-Perez removed Ta’amilo in favor of redshirt freshman pitcher Rachel Garcia, who immediately retired the side.

The freshman’s entrance was a boon for the Bruins. After responding in the bottom of the first, Garcia continued her stellar pitching for the rest of the game, finishing with her third win of the season.

She allowed only two hits in 6 2/3 innings of work.

The second game of the doubleheader was more of a traditional pitcher’s duel.

Junior pitcher Johanna Grauer started the nightcap for UCLA, and through two innings, she held the Wildcats scoreless.

She ran into some trouble in the third. After loading the bases, she conceded an RBI single to Kentucky third baseman Abbey Cheek.

UCLA kept the deficit at one after Grauer struck out Kentucky catcher Jenny Schaper to retire the side.

Kentucky starter Meagan Prince was also hurling scoreless frame after scoreless frame, and had a shutout through three innings. Her first blemish came in the bottom of the fourth.

With two outs and a runner on third, senior outfielder Gabrielle Maurice grounded to Kentucky first baseman Erin Rethlake, who inexplicably threw the ball to home instead of forcing out Maurice at first. Sophomore utility Paige Halstead, who had left on contact, scored standing up. The game was tied, 1-1.

Garcia relieved Grauer in the top of the fifth, and continued to dominate the Wildcats. Buoyed by their sudden fortune, the Bruins threatened again in the bottom of the fifth.

Senior shortstop Delaney Spaulding reached on an error and then stole second. Unfortunately for the Bruins, freshman infielder Bubba Nickles, who had the chance to drive in Spaulding with two outs, struck out swinging to end the inning.

Both offenses went down in order in the sixth, as did Kentucky’s in the top of the seventh.

In the bottom of the seventh, however, UCLA began to rally.

After two quick outs, sophomore utility Zoe Shaw singled up the middle, and Spaulding moved her over to second after drawing a walk.

Junior infielder Kylee Perez then singled to left. The Bruins elected to send Shaw and try to win the game, but she was gunned down by outfielder Brooklin Hinz, sending the game into extra innings.

Both teams threatened in the eighth and ninth innings, but neither was able to score. Other than a UCLA walk, there was no offense in the 10th.

In the top of the 11th, Kentucky finally broke through in the form of a two-out solo home run from Schaper.

The home run broke 6 2/3 innings of scoreless relief pitching from Garcia in the second game, in addition to being her first earned run of the season.

All told, Garcia pitched 13 2/3 innings of relief in the doubleheader, conceding just the one run.

When asked about how she managed to calm the waters so quickly and effectively in the first game, she credited her focus for allowing her to establish her dominance so instantly.

In total, Garcia threw 154 pitches in the span of fewer than five hours.

“I’m a little tired but it’s not going to stop me,” Garcia said. “(I) just have to go back at it and get some treatment.”

She expects to be ready to pitch again Friday, when the Bruins face Cal Poly in their next game, their first of many in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.

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Christian Babcock | Alumnus
Babcock joined the Bruin in 2016 and contributed until 2017. He spent time on the softball and swim and dive beats.
Babcock joined the Bruin in 2016 and contributed until 2017. He spent time on the softball and swim and dive beats.
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