Softball delivers weekend sweep of California despite two narrow victories
Redshirt sophomore utility Aaliyah Jordan hit a three-run home run for UCLA softball in Sunday’s game against California at Easton Stadium. The Bruins swept the series over the Golden Bears to open Pac-12 play. (Ashley Kenney/Daily Bruin)
By Coral Smith
April 1, 2019 12:12 a.m.
The Bruins had to fight for the series.
No. 1 UCLA softball (32-1, 6-0 Pac-12) swept California (20-15, 2-7) this weekend, with two of the victories coming by just a one-run margin.
“We already know what we look like when we’re on top of it, so you got to see a different layer, a different team today, a team that’s going to continue to figure out how to throw punches even though things don’t always go their way,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez.
The Bruins struggled to convert hits into runs in Friday’s game, collecting seven hits and eight walks but leaving 12 runners on base. UCLA trailed California going into the bottom of the seventh inning, but scored on a bases-loaded error to tie the score at 2-2 and send the game into extras.
But junior outfielder Bubba Nickles broke the stalemate just one inning later, in the bottom of the eighth, with an RBI single to score freshman utility Kelli Godin from second for the 3-2 win.
“We had a lot of hits, but we couldn’t put them together,” said redshirt sophomore utility Aaliyah Jordan. “So I think we just need a couple of us coming up and having a couple of clutch hits like this.”
Redshirt junior Rachel Garcia was in the circle for the Bruins on Friday and took the win, pitching all eight innings while giving up on one earned run on six hits and a walk. With the win, Garcia’s ERA has gone down to 0.54 – the best in the nation.
Saturday’s game was a pitcher’s duel, as both teams recorded just five hits each. The only run of the game came in the third inning, as sophomore utility Kinsley Washington singled, stole second, advanced to third on an out, then scored on an error to take the 1-0 lead.
The UCLA offense finally broke through on Sunday with a 6-0 victory, capped by a sixth-inning home run to center field from Jordan to drive in three runs. The other three runs came in the first and second innings by way of two RBI singles and a steal of home by junior outfielder Jacqui Prober.
“Yesterday we said, ‘All we need is to win by two and we’ll be happy’, so today we were able to put up a bunch of runs,” Washington said.
Despite the higher run production, UCLA still left 12 runners on, and finished the series with 29 total runners left on base.
“We’ve just got to go back and sharpen up,” Inouye-Perez said. “It’s a wake-up call to be able to figure out what we need to do in those situations.”
Freshman pitcher Megan Faraimo would finish the weekend with 11 2/3 innings of shutout pitching, collecting the win Saturday and Sunday. She gave up three hits and no walks after coming into the game in relief on Saturday, and pitched a one-hit complete game shutout on Sunday.
UCLA will go back on the road for more Pac-12 play next weekend with a trip to No. 17 Arizona State.
“We’ve got to show up every day, and we’ve got to be able to earn it,” Inouye-Perez said. “The only ranking that matters is the ranking at the end of the year; we want to be the last ones standing.”