The Bruins are going to the Women’s College World Series.
No. 2 seed UCLA softball (51-6, 20-4 Pac-12) defeated James Madison (51-10, 20-1 Colonial Athletic Association) on Saturday with a score of 7-2 to advance to Oklahoma City as one of the final eight teams in the postseason.
“I literally feel like we’ve played some of our best softball in these last two days,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “We set out with a goal from the very beginning of the year to be our best when our best is needed, and I told them at some point today that our best is yet to come.”
In many ways, Saturday’s game followed the same path as Friday’s 6-1 victory against the Dukes.
For the second day in a row, the Bruins forced JMU pitcher Megan Good out of the circle before the end of the fourth inning. Good, a candidate for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, gave up six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings – only the second time this season that Good had given up more than three runs in an outing – the first being when she gave up six in a loss to Arizona State in March.
“We had a plan, she came in quickly and changed it, and we adjusted,” Inouye-Perez said. “That’s part of what postseason is all about, it’s what great programs do.”
The Bruins struck first, scoring four runs in the third inning for the second day in a row. The inning started with a bunt single from freshman utility Kelli Godin, who then stole second and advanced to third when the shortstop dropped the tag.
After sophomore infielder Briana Perez walked to put two runners on, redshirt junior pitcher Rachel Garcia drove them both in on a two-run single. Senior utility Taylor Pack followed with a two-run home run to center.
“I wasn’t really looking for that coming into this game. … I was thinking about just doing whatever I could to help the team,” Pack said. “We want to be at the top at the end, and I just want to do whatever I can to help the team get there.”
UCLA added two more runs in the fourth inning with a two-run RBI single from redshirt sophomore outfielder Aaliyah Jordan, which gave the Bruins a 6-0 lead.
Freshman pitcher Megan Faraimo started in the circle for UCLA after struggling in the regional last weekend. Faraimo threw five shutout innings before putting two runners on in the sixth, who would both score after sophomore pitcher Holly Azevedo replaced Faraimo and gave up back-to-back RBI singles.
Faraimo came away with the victory – her first of the postseason – after giving up two runs on four hits and striking out eight.
“It helped a lot to have my teammates, a lot of them just came up to me and just lectured me on how confident they were in me,” Faraimo said. “It also helped just hearing the crowd, hearing the Bruin bubble meant a lot of good vibes coming my way.”
After Garcia came into the game in relief to finish the sixth inning, Pack added on one more run for the Bruins with her second home run of the game to make it 7-2 in the seventh. When Garcia recorded the last three outs of the game, UCLA clinched its fifth consecutive trip to the Women’s College World Series and the 29th appearance in UCLA history.
UCLA will travel to Oklahoma City for the college world series starting Thursday, and will have a chance to win the program’s 12th NCAA championship.