As the weekend wore on, No. 13 UCLA (26-9, 2-4 Pac-12) softball loosened its grip on No. 8 Washington (27-8, 4-5) en route to a two-games-to-one series win.
The Bruins won the first two games by scores of 6-2 and 9-8 before the No. 8 Huskies answered back with a 12-7 win Sunday.
UCLA was able to take home its first conference victories, which coach Kelly Inouye-Perez called huge.
“We were able to come out and play our game,” Inouye-Perez said. “We straight up did not show up against Utah.”
UCLA took Game 1 on the heels of a complete game from Rachel Garcia. The redshirt freshman gave up an unearned run in the second and a solo shot in the third to pick up her ninth win of the year.
Garcia also homered as part of a Bruin offense that put up four one-run innings and a two-run inning.
In Game 2, coach Kelly Inouye-Perez started Johanna Grauer in what turned into a close, high-scoring game.
The Bruins scored four runs on two singles, two doubles and an error in the third before taking a 6-0 lead on a pair of solo shots from sophomore first baseman Brianna Tautalafua and Garcia in the fifth.
UCLA never lost the lead, but the game tightened up as the innings wore on. Junior Selina Ta’Amilo got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with two strikeouts when she entered the circle, but struggled two innings later.
“She’s accountable,” Inouye-Perez said. “She didn’t do a great job of being able to work ahead in the zone, and when you do that, you give hitters advantages. So she’s got to tighten that up and pound the zone.”
Ta’Amilo was charged for seven runs in her 2 1/3 innings of relief. In the sixth, Grauer re-entered the circle and allowed two inherited runners and one of her own to score, putting the Huskies within a run of tying the game.
Garcia came in in the sixth and got the four outs the Bruins would need to secure the series victory.
Inouye-Perez gave the Washington offense a lot of credit for its double-digit run performance Sunday.
“It wasn’t about our pitchers,” Inouye-Perez said. “It was more about (Washington’s) ability to kind of come in and be very committed to not being able to be attacked so successfully like we did in the first two days.”
Garcia, who said she was dealing with a cold after the game, got tagged for four earned runs and surrendered a two-run homer in the Huskies’ go-ahead inning.
The Bruins will continue conference play with a three-game set against No. 3 Oregon at home next weekend.