UCLA softball’s three-run homer in first inning secures win over UCF
Junior pitcher Holly Azevedo gave up two runs to No. 22 UCF in the first two innings, but settled in and went the distance for No. 1 UCLA softball to claim the victory Friday night. (Christine Kao/Daily Bruin)
|No. 22 UCF||2|
|No. 1 UCLA||4|
March 7, 2020 3:10 p.m.
Junior pitcher Holly Azevedo went the distance in the Bruins’ win, and coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said she couldn’t have done it without the support of her offense.
Then, when UCLA’s bats fell silent, Azevedo returned the favor.
“(Azevedo) wasn’t the sharpest in that first inning,” Inouye-Perez said. “But the offense had (Azevedo’s) back and that makes (Azevedo) want to fight, so she started settling in.”
Azevedo allowed two walks and an RBI single in the opening inning of No. 1 UCLA softball’s (22-1) 4-2 victory over No. 22 UCF (17-5) on Friday night. It was the second time all season the Bruins fell behind on the scoreboard before holding the bat in their hands.
In the bottom half of the first inning, with junior utility Kinsley Washington on second, UCF bypassed UCLA’s batting average leader redshirt junior outfielder Aaliyah Jordan with an intentional four-pitch walk. After freshman infielder Maya Brady flied out to left field for the second out of the inning, Inouye-Perez said UCF thought the inning was over.
Then junior infielder Delanie Wisz walked to the plate, and, on a 2-2 count, unloaded a three-run home run over the right-field batting cages.
“Just when (the Knights) think they got out of it, getting (Brady) out, (Wisz) comes up and just comes up clutch,” Inouye-Perez said. “That’s what UCLA softball is about – our ability to pick each other up.”
In Azevedo’s second inning of work, she again allowed the first batter she faced to reach base, and she would eventually come around to score on a hit that deflected off Wisz’s glove and trickled into the outfield to trim the Bruins’ lead to 3-2.
UCLA extended its lead back to two runs with help from sophomore outfielder Kelli Godin in the bottom half of the inning. Godin took advantage of an error to get on base, then proceeded to steal her team-leading 12th base of the season and tag up on two straight flyouts to score and give Azevedo additional run support.
But the Bruin lineup was stifled as the Knights turned to their ace Alea White – who had recorded the win in UCF’s upset win over No. 16 Michigan earlier in the evening – to stop the bleeding with two outs in the second. White held the Bruins scoreless down the stretch, racking up four strikeouts in the process.
“White, (who) had just gone in, had all (types of) pitches,” Inouye-Perez said. “She was changing planes, she had a good off-speed. She’s one of the better pitchers we’ve faced this year. … I didn’t even know who she was, and now I do.”
In addition to White’s four-inning shutout performance, Inouye-Perez said the Knights’ defense played much more soundly after picking up two errors in the first two innings.
“I like the way (the Knights) play,” Inouye-Perez said. “They started making some defensive plays. … I think they were a really balanced team. That was a great competitive game. You’re going to see that team in the postseason going to be able to do some stuff.”
Azevedo responded to White’s dominance with consecutive 1-2-3 innings in the third and fourth innings, allowing only two hits for the remainder of the game.
“I had to adjust, so I think it’s all about, ‘Does your team have your back?’” Azevedo said. “If I give up a hit, we’ll come back, so I’m not really worried about a rough start. I know they have my back, and I’ll have their back.”
Assisting Azevedo in recording the final two outs was Wisz, who picked up assists on a pair of on-the-run defensive plays to end the game.
Wisz, who had a running catch in front of the third-base dugout earlier in the game, said she takes more pride in her defensive prowess than the long ball she launched in the opening frame.
“Honestly, (I) probably (value) the defense (more),” Wisz said. “That’s how you win championships. Just making those plays behind (Azevedo) was really special.”