Softball continues winning streak in invitational tournament
Sophomore pitcher Megan Faraimo allowed only three baserunners in No. 1 UCLA softball’s game against No. 18 Minnesota on Saturday, as she led the Bruins to a 4-0 victory. (Dhruv Singhania/Daily Bruin)
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March 9, 2020 12:55 a.m.
Three quality starts gave the Bruins three more victories to mark their second double-digit win streak of the season.
Freshman utility Lexi Sosa tossed a perfect game in game one of No. 1 UCLA softball’s (25-1) Saturday doubleheader against Boston University (13-7) in the UCLA/Long Beach State Invitational, leading the Bruins to a 10-0 victory. Sophomore pitcher Megan Faraimo made back-to-back wins as she held No. 18 Minnesota (14-9-1) hitless through four innings in the nightcap en route to her 10th complete game and 10th game with double-digit strikeouts.
Junior pitcher Holly Azevedo and Sosa then combined for a three-hit shutout in UCLA’s rematch against Cal Poly (10-13) to wrap up the tournament with an 8-0 win.
Of the 15 batters Sosa faced in the mercy-rule victory, she sent down six on strikes and induced six ground outs. It was the first perfect game by a Bruin since Donna Kerr in 2008, who also happened to be in the stands Saturday for the Bruins’ 2010 national championship team reunion.
“I told (Sosa) a big part of being a Bruin is making history,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “People don’t get to throw perfect games in their whole careers.”
After retiring the side in the second, Sosa bypassed the team huddle to get her helmet and batting gloves, as she was hitting leadoff in the bottom of the inning. On a 1-1 count, Sosa launched her first home run as a Bruin to put them up 2-0 over the Terriers.
Inouye-Perez said Sosa – who finished the day with two hits and four RBIs – continued to add onto the legacy of two-way UCLA pitchers in her fourth win of the season.
“What (Sosa) looked like is exactly what we associate this program with – it’s the two-way players that can hit and pitch,” Inouye-Perez said. “I mean, what a day.”
Faraimo allowed only three baserunners in game two against the Golden Gophers on Saturday – a walk to the first batter of the game and two doubles in the fourth and seventh innings, respectively.
Each batter that followed them in the lineup met the same fate – a punch out.
“Most impressively, when they did get a hit, (Faraimo would) get the next girl out and I think that’s the sign of what great pitchers do,” Inouye-Perez said.
Faraimo retired 10 consecutive batters with seven strikeouts after that first-inning walk. And after the Golden Gophers’ fourth-inning double, she retired another nine batters in order.
The UCLA coaching staff created a new statistic for what happens after a pitcher allows a baserunner – the “Lisa Fernandez stat,” named after the Bruins’ assistant coach Lisa Fernandez, a renowned UCLA softball alumna. “It’s what you do after something happens,” Faraimo said. “After I give up a hit or someone gets on base or is in scoring position, I always try to come back with at least a strike or get that next batter out.”
In the batter’s box, the Bruin lineup was held hitless through the first three innings by Minnesota pitcher Autumn Pease. It was only the second time this season – even including UCLA’s exhibition against Team USA on Feb. 23 – the Bruins failed to record a hit during their first chances at the plate.
Inouye-Perez said she was expecting a heavy dose of offspeed pitches after facing the Golden Gophers a year ago in the Women’s College World Series semifinal.
“The offspeed is the one neutralizer for everyone,” Inouye-Perez said. “When you change speeds it takes away the timing element. I knew it was going to be a good game today and it came down to that one critical inning so I’ll take it.”
Two infield singles in the fourth inning and a fielding error by Minnesota’s first baseman broke the stalemate and loaded the bases for junior infielder Delanie Wisz, who had hit a go-ahead, three-run homer the night before against No. 22 UCF.
On the first pitch she saw, Wisz uncorked a grand slam over the left field wall to put UCLA up 4-0.
“(Wisz is) something special,” Inouye-Perez said. “There’s times in a bases-loaded situation when someone can almost overdo it and try too hard. She’s teaching us just how clutch she is.”
Wisz had struck out in her first at-bat against Pease, who, besides the Bruins’ four-run fourth inning, kept UCLA hitless and off-base for the entire game.
“That (first) at-bat, I got a first-pitch strike and I took it,” Wisz said. “I was going to come out first pitch swinging if it was there so that’s what happened.”
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