Softball sweeps Arizona State, returns from weekend series with four victories
Redshirt junior outfielder Aaliyah Jordan had a hit in each of No. 2 UCLA softball’s victories over the weekend, including a walk-off double Friday and a four-hit performance Saturday. Jordan is currently batting .420 on the season. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin staff)
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By Coral Smith
March 22, 2021 2:04 p.m.
The Bruins started the series by going to extra innings but finished it with a mercy-rule win.
No. 2 UCLA softball (19-1, 3-0 Pac-12) swept No. 11 Arizona State (17-6, 0-3) in a four-game series to open up Pac-12 play. As a result of scheduling concerns over COVID-19, one of the four games counted as a non-conference matchup, as it will for all-conference series this season.
The Bruins gave up just two runs in 27 innings, shutting out the Sun Devils in two of the four games.
“It’s definitely rewarding, especially for a (long series) like this,” said redshirt junior infielder Briana Perez. “At the end of the day it feels pretty good, we just had to stay engaged physically and mentally.”
In Friday’s contest, redshirt senior pitcher/first baseman Rachel Garcia gave UCLA a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning with a home run. Garcia also pitched all eight innings in the Bruins’ victory and 13 2/3 on the weekend, collecting 21 strikeouts and giving up just one run.
UCLA held on to its one-run lead going into the seventh inning, but a leadoff home run by Arizona State sent the game into the eighth. After Perez bunted her way to a single, redshirt junior outfielder Aaliyah Jordan brought her in with a walk-off double to win the game.
“They stuck with their same game plan of going inside and changeups, so going in I knew I was going to get one of the two, if not both,” Jordan said. “So you just pick one, and sit on it, and make that adjustment.”
Jordan continued her offensive barrage throughout the weekend, collecting seven hits, four of them coming in the Bruins’ 4-0 win Saturday evening – their second victory of the day. One of those four hits was a successful bunt single which fulfilled a bet Jordan had made with one of her teammates.
“Me and (redshirt sophomore outfielder Kelli Godin) had this thing going where if she hit a home run, I’d have to put down a bunt. A few games ago she got the walk-off home run, so I knew I’d have to put the bunt down sometime this weekend,” Jordan said. “I didn’t tell them before the at-bat I was doing it, I just went up to bat and I was like ‘You know, I’m going to do it,’ so I did it.”
Redshirt sophomore pitcher Megan Faraimo recorded the win in UCLA’s other two games, striking out 18 in her 12 total innings.
The only run Faraimo surrendered was an RBI double in the first inning of Saturday’s second game, holding the Sun Devils at bay the next six innings. The Bruins quickly overcame the deficit, as four different players hit a home run en route to a 6-1 win.
“It’s what we say all the time, anything can happen, it’s what you do next that’s your defining moment,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “(Faraimo) never gave up, she got stronger through the game and that built confidence for the team to get out there and swing their sticks.”
UCLA hit eight home runs in the series and batted .337 as a team. Three of those home runs were courtesy of redshirt freshman utility Maya Brady, who went 6-for-8 overall. Brady hit a first-inning grand slam on Sunday to open the scoring and later singled to bring in two more runs and wrap up the 9-0 five-inning victory.
Inouye-Perez said she was happy with the way the Bruins adjusted to the Sun Devil pitchers over the course of the weekend, improving their offensive output between Friday’s eighth-inning walk-off to Sunday’s mercy-rule win.
“They have effective pitching at (Arizona State), and you can’t assume you can just come in and club up their pitching staff and get the long ball, but I’m very proud of our hitters’ ability to make adjustments and get stronger (over the series),” Inouye-Perez said. “It’s an expectation, it’s a standard, and everybody’s striving for that, but to be able to do it against a team like (Arizona State) is a positive.”
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