Redshirt junior outfielder Aaliyah Jordan performed an impromptu dugout interview with ESPN’s Beth Mowins amid a nine-run sixth inning against USF for UCLA.
“We call that ‘Bruin magic,'” Jordan said.
No. 2 UCLA softball (11-0) finished the three-day St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational with a come-from-behind victory against No. 5 Florida State (7-4) on Sunday to complete a sweep of its weekend competition. Jordan said there was a little more “Bruin magic” left in store for the team in the top of that game’s seventh inning.
Jordan stepped to the plate with two runners on base, and the Seminoles leading by a run – the first time the Bruins have trailed an opponent this season. Jordan lined a ball into the mitt of Florida State left fielder Kaley Mudge, but the ball popped out, allowing junior shortstop Briana Perez and freshman third baseman Seneca Curo to score.
Having been ousted two years ago in the Women’s College World Series by Florida State, Jordan said the double was that much sweeter.
“Last time we played them, we had that bitter taste left in our mouth, so we used that as fuel to our fire,” Jordan said. “(That was) 100% Bruin magic.”
Sophomore pitcher Megan Faraimo threw three complete games to help the Bruins to three wins. Faraimo – who came into her start against the Seminoles having allowed just three earned runs over 31 innings – gave up a home run to third baseman Sydney Sherrill in the third inning.
And with UCLA holding onto a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, Faraimo had to face Sherrill one more time, this time with the tying run on first base.
Faraimo sent Sherrill down swinging on a rise ball clocked at 67 mph for the final out of the night and her 13th strikeout of the game.
“Faraimo definitely showed the country she does not stop fighting,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “She’s taken over the reins as a sophomore, and that’s a credit to her.”
In UCLA’s opening game of the invitational against No. 9 Alabama (4-5), Faraimo took a perfect-game bid into the fifth inning, until the Crimson Tide reached base. Graduate catcher/utility Jenavee Peres, in her UCLA debut after a two-year hiatus from collegiate softball, gave Faraimo a cushion with a solo homer over the left field wall.
“I had a kid and I came back and I’m playing with the top team in the nation,” Peres said. “I almost cried a little bit because I was thinking of my son when I did it and knowing everything I do is for him and also myself.”
In game one of Saturday’s double-header, UCLA logged a 9-1 mercy-rule victory over Liberty (1-9) and followed it up with an 8-3 win over No. 15 Georgia (8-3). The Bruins hit through the lineup against the Bulldogs in the second inning of the matchup, featuring a Peres three-run shot and a Perez two-RBI single to cap the five-run frame.
Jordan also had an RBI double in the game and ended the weekend with four extra-base hits and eight RBIs.
“We all expect it from (Jordan) and that’s most impressive,” Inouye-Perez said. “It’s not easy to do, especially when you have people expecting you to do it. But Aaliyah Jordan is, I believe, the best hitter in the country.”
Freshman utility Maya Brady opened the penultimate game of the invitational against USF (2-7) on Sunday with a grand slam. Preluding the second scoring outburst in the top of the sixth inning, the Bruins gave up an inside-the-park home run to the Bulls by way of a tipped ball off the mitt of Jordan in right field.
Inouye-Perez said the fielding snafu provided an opportunity to see how her team would respond.
“There’s an experience about it that we’re trying to share with the newcomers,” Inouye-Perez said. “(After the mistake), they stepped up and started competing, putting nine runs up on the board. That’s dealing with adversity on things that are out of your control.”