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No. 3 UCLA softball sees 2 five-inning mercy-rule wins over UC Santa Barbara

Redshirt junior infielder Delanie Wisz hit a home run in both of No. 3 UCLA softball’s victories over UC Santa Barbara on Thursday. Wisz leads the Bruins with five home runs on the season. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin staff)

Softball


UC Santa Barbara0
No. 3 UCLA8
UC Santa Barbara0
No. 3 UCLA8

By Cassidy Hunt

March 12, 2021 1:15 p.m.

In their first doubleheader of the week, the Bruins brought out the brooms.

No. 3 UCLA softball (13-1) won both games of its twin bill against UC Santa Barbara (3-12) on Thursday afternoon at Easton Stadium. The Bruins picked up a pair of five-inning mercy-rule wins, besting the Gauchos 8-0 in each competition.

“Any time we get two mercy-rules in one day, it’s a huge bump in energy for us,” said redshirt junior infielder Delanie Wisz. “We get out early, so we get to rest more than we normally would, and we get to hold onto the energy we have, which is a game-changer.”

Despite its mercy-rule victory, UCLA was slow to strike in the first game, scoring its first run in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly by redshirt junior infielder Kinsley Washington that scored Wisz.

UCSB held the blue and gold to one run until the fourth inning, when redshirt senior utility Bubba Nickles’ one-pitch grand slam brought the score to 5-0.

In the fifth, a pair of home runs from Wisz and redshirt freshman Maya Brady, followed by an RBI single by freshman infielder Thessa Malau’ulu cemented the first shutout win for the Bruins.

Only two of UCLA’s runs in game one were not the product of home runs, both of which were unearned by the UCSB pitching staff.

“Overall, I was really proud of them,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “Not only were they successful, but they got stronger through the games, and that’s something they’re always working on, and we’re always looking for.”

Redshirt junior pitcher Holly Azevedo started the first game for the Bruins, facing 21 batters and picking up their first clean-sheet win of the day, and was followed by redshirt freshman pitcher Lexi Sosa’s start in game two. Sosa faced 13 batters and retired four.

Redshirt senior pitcher Rachel Garcia came in to close both games of the twin bill, striking out the final batter in game one and punching out five of the final six batters to end game two.

Garcia has struck out 14 of the 16 batters she has faced so far this season.

“To have those weapons … is really exciting,” Inouye-Perez said. “(Garcia’s) velocity was at 70 miles per hour, and you can really feel things like that knock the wind out of an opponent. It’s a confidence builder for the entire defense to close out a game like that.”

UCLA struck early in the nightcap, starting with a redshirt junior infielder Briana Perez blast over the right field wall.

Later in the same inning, redshirt junior outfielder Aaliyah Jordan walked, advanced on a single by Garcia and was sent home by another sacrifice fly by Wisz to secure a 2-0 start.

“It’s really important to jump on it early,” Garcia said. “Insurance is important, and it helps out the pitchers a lot when you don’t have to throw a full game.”

Wisz hit her fifth home run of the season – her second of the day – in the third inning, making her the Bruin home run leader. The no-out three-RBI bomb brought Jordan and Garcia home and increased the Bruins’ lead to 6-0.

“I’m in a really important spot,” Wisz said. “The pitcher kind of has to throw to me, and that puts me in a position where I need to produce for my team, so (doing that) in any way I can always feel great for me.”

Brady drew a walk before redshirt freshman catcher Alyssa Garcia followed up with a no-out home run of her own, pushing the team’s total for the inning to five runs.

UCLA combined for six home runs in the doubleheader and tallied 42 total at-bats in 10 total innings.

“We’re playing a lot of games this week and not having a lot of practice,” Inouye-Perez said. “So, it’s always great to have the opportunity to practice in game mode and see where (we’re) at. So, we’ll take this momentum and confidence and get ready to go after two new games tomorrow.”

Inouye-Perez’s team will face UNLV in another twin bill Friday afternoon at Easton Stadium.

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Cassidy Hunt | Sports staff
Hunt is currently a Sports staff writer on the softball and women's soccer beats. She was previously a reporter on the gymnastics, women's water polo and swim & dive beats.
Hunt is currently a Sports staff writer on the softball and women's soccer beats. She was previously a reporter on the gymnastics, women's water polo and swim & dive beats.
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