Softball sweeps Stanford in 4-game series, ends weekend with 2nd mercy-rule victory
Redshirt senior pitcher/first baseman Rachel Garcia tossed four shutout innings and notched a pair of hits and RBIs Sunday as No. 2 UCLA softball completed its four-game sweep of Stanford. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin staff)
|No. 2 UCLA||8|
By Coral Smith
May 9, 2021 7:04 p.m.
Amid Senior Day celebrations, the Bruins got the win in their final regular-season home game.
No. 2 UCLA softball (38-3, 16-2 Pac-12) recorded its second mercy-rule victory of the weekend with a 8-0 win over Stanford (29-18, 8-10) on Sunday afternoon. The game marked the Bruins’ Senior Day celebration, in which the team honored its six graduating seniors.
“It’s emotional, you could see it in all of the seniors’ faces today,” said redshirt senior pitcher/first baseman Rachel Garcia. “Even when we first walked in through the gates it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is our last moment.’”
Five seniors got a chance to come into the game, starting with redshirt senior utility Bubba Nickles, who is set to compete with Garcia for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics.
Nickles had been sidelined for the last seven weeks with a wrist injury, but got one last chance to take the field at Easton Stadium when she was announced as the starting center fielder for Sunday’s contest and symbolically took her position before being substituted out before first pitch.
The other Olympian – Garcia – started for the Bruins in the circle, collecting four innings of shutout pitching before being relieved by redshirt sophomore pitcher/first baseman Megan Faraimo for the final inning.
Garcia finished with two strikeouts, the second of which ended the top of the fourth inning after Stanford put two runners on. Outside of that inning, the Cardinal never had a runner make it past first base against the Bruins’ ace.
UCLA faced Stanford pitcher Alana Vawter for the third game in the series, having scored six runs – only four of which were earned – off her in her previous 10 innings. With the experience batting against her, the Bruins stuck Vawter with four runs, three earned, forcing the Cardinal to take her out without finishing the first inning.
Garcia knocked in the first run of the rally on a single to left field and later scored on a single by redshirt freshman utility Maya Brady. Two more runners crossed home plate the next at-bat, when redshirt sophomore utility Anna Vines singled and advanced to second on an errant throw from the outfield.
“Coming in we knew that we were probably going to face (Vawter) again, so we came out today with a goal to knock her out in the first inning – luckily we did it within one out,” said redshirt junior infielder Delanie Wisz.
A third-inning two-run home run from Wisz extended the lead to 6-0, her second of three total hits in the outing.
Another two runs were tacked on in the fourth on back-to-back singles from Garcia and Wisz. Earlier in the inning, redshirt senior catcher Jenavee Peres was brought in as a pinch hitter and delivered, hitting a single in her final regular-season home game.
And with an eight-run lead going into the top of the fifth, the Bruins put two more seniors, outfielder Julie Rodriguez and utility Alana Snow, in the game to finish out their UCLA careers on home turf.
“That’s not something that you always have the luxury of doing in the middle of Pac-12 play,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “I’m so proud to be part of a program where … their teammates are so selfless that everybody just wanted that opportunity for the seniors.”