UCLA softball ends Women’s College World Series run with loss to Oklahoma
No. 2 seed UCLA softball’s season ended Saturday night with its elimination game loss to No. 1 seed Oklahoma in a rematch of the 2019 Women’s College World Series championship. (Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)
|No. 2 seed UCLA||3|
|No. 1 seed Oklahoma||10|
By Coral Smith
June 5, 2021 9:47 p.m.
This post was updated June 5 at 10:27 p.m.
OKLAHOMA CITY — With their season on the line on Saturday night, the Bruins left empty-handed.
No. 2 seed UCLA softball (47-7, 19-2 Pac-12) was unable to overcome the offensive barrage of No. 1 seed Oklahoma (52-3, 16-1 Big 12) in its Women’s College World Series elimination game, losing 10-3, ending the Bruins’ season short of a second straight NCAA title.
“I left everything out there on the field today,” said redshirt senior pitcher Rachel Garcia. “We made it this far, and this team is just something special.”
After being completely shut out on offense the day before, the UCLA bats were swinging early and often against Oklahoma starting pitcher Nicole May. In the first inning, Garcia recorded her first hit of the WCWS, followed by a loud flyout from redshirt junior infielder Delanie Wisz that almost cleared the fence. And in the second, the Bruins put two runners on with two singles up the middle, but left both stranded.
It wasn’t until the third inning that UCLA was able to break through with the top of the order up to bat. Redshirt junior outfielder Aaliyah Jordan singled and redshirt junior infielder Briana Perez walked, putting runners on first and second with Garcia coming to the plate.
The senior and future Olympian delivered, sending a three-run home run over the wall in right-center to give UCLA the lead. One more hit was enough to chase May from the game, and the Sooners brought in pitcher Giselle Juarez.
“I’m so proud of this team; the way that we came out and responded after last night says a lot about who we are,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “We came out, we were more focused, we were dialed in, we got great quality at-bats and were hitting the ball all over the place, and playing UCLA softball.”
But unfortunately, after that inning, it was all Oklahoma.
The Sooners had their own traffic on the bases in the bottom of the third, getting back two runs to close the Bruins’ lead to one run. Jocelyn Alo, who beat out Garcia for the USA Softball Player of the Year award, knocked in the first run on an RBI triple and scored the second on a bouncing ball that was just too high for Garcia to field.
Another two runs scored for the Sooners the next inning, after multiple defensive errors by the Bruins put runners on second and third for Tiare Jennings, who hit a double to right field that almost cleared the wall and brought in both runners. Additional runs in the fifth and sixth innings put UCLA down 10-3 going into the last frame.
“I tip my cap to Oklahoma, they straight up came up (to bat) and threw punches back, and they beat us on the field tonight,” Inouye-Perez said.
Just like in her start against Alabama the night before, Garcia did not get through a single inning without giving up a baserunner, and finished what is likely her final game as a Bruin having given up eight runs, six earned, before being pulled in the sixth inning.
“(Garcia) is just an amazing person,” said redshirt senior utility Bubba Nickles. “She’s such a role model for me, she is unfazed by any external noise and she’s going to be so amazing at whatever she does with her softball career.”
The Bruins’ offense still made attempts to close the gap throughout the rest of the game, but they were unable to break through against Juarez and put together enough hits to close the gap and score, despite multiple opportunities with runners on base.