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Softball launches into Pac-12 play with sweep of Washington

Redshirt junior pitcher Rachel Garcia went 4-for-4 in UCLA softball’s series finale against Washington on Sunday, including a home run in the top of the third inning. (Ashley Kenney/Daily Bruin)

Softball


No. 1 UCLA3
No. 5 Washington0
No. 1 UCLA4
No. 5 Washington2
No. 1 UCLA15 No. 5 Washington6

By Coral Smith

March 18, 2019 1:24 a.m.

The Bruins swept the Huskies to start off Pac-12 play.

No. 1 UCLA softball (25-1, 3-0) got the win in all three games it played against No. 5 Washington (22-6, 0-3) in the first weekend of the conference schedule. The Bruins won 3-0 on Friday, 4-2 on Saturday and 15-6 on Sunday.

“We had some great success in preseason, so we wiped the slate clean coming into Pac-12s,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “This was a great test for us, to be on the road against a team like Washington and play the way that we did.”

The Bruins were held hitless until the sixth inning Friday night. But then the offense broke through, starting with a leadoff single by freshman utility Kelli Godin, who advanced to second on her team-leading 12th stolen base.

Sophomore shortstop Briana Perez followed that up with an infield single, and an intentional walk loaded the bases for senior utility Taylor Pack, who laced a double to center to score all three runners.

That would be all UCLA needed for the win, as redshirt junior pitcher Rachel Garcia held Washington to just three hits in the 3-0 complete-game shutout – her fourth of the season.

“I just was really focusing on the game plan, and I thought we executed very well,” Garcia said. “Luckily, I had my teammates too, who also had my back behind me and offensively.”

Garcia was also a key player in game two of the series, entering in relief and pitching five more innings of shutout ball after starter sophomore Holly Azevedo gave up two runs early in the game.

With help from a two-RBI single by junior outfielder Bubba Nickles in the third, Garcia would get out of jams in both the fifth and seventh innings to send the game into extras at 2-2.

It was at this point that Garcia smashed a game-winning two-run home run to left-center, bringing in redshirt sophomore utility Aaliyah Jordan, who had just picked up a double. A 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth secured the 4-2 victory for UCLA, as Garcia finished with seven strikeouts.

“Washington is just a very solid team; we knew that coming up here and playing in their house was going to be competitive,” Inouye-Perez said. “The first two games were a pitching duel and it just came down to timely hitting.”

Unlike the first two games, Sunday’s matchup saw much more offensive production from both teams, as the Bruins scored 15 runs on 15 hits from seven different players.

UCLA took the lead in the first inning with an RBI single from Garcia, and three batters later, a grand slam from senior infielder Brianna Tautalafua made it 5-0.

The Bruins scored four more runs in the second on back-to-back two-RBI doubles from Garcia and Pack, followed by five runs in the third. This was capped off by a three-run home run from Garcia to make it 14-4 by the end of the third. UCLA would score one more time in the fourth and – despite a home run from Washington in the fifth – the Bruins completed the sweep with a 15-6 mercy-rule victory.

Freshman Megan Faraimo got the win in the circle for UCLA, giving up three earned runs in four innings and surrendering only three hits.

Garcia went 4-for-4 in the game with a double and home run, just a triple shy of the cycle. Tautalafua and Godin each contributed three hits to the effort as well.

“The difference was that we attacked early in the count, and early in the game,” Tautalafua said.

UCLA will have a break from Pac-12 play next weekend, and will instead face Saint Mary’s and CSUN on the road.

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Coral Smith | Sports senior staff
Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the softball, gymnastics, women's volleyball, swim & dive and rowing beats. Smith was previously a staff writer on the softball, women's volleyball, rowing and swim & dive beats.
Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer. She was previously an assistant Sports editor for the softball, gymnastics, women's volleyball, swim & dive and rowing beats. Smith was previously a staff writer on the softball, women's volleyball, rowing and swim & dive beats.
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