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UCLA softball concludes regular season with series sweep over California

Redshirt sophomore utility Maya Brady anticipates a pitch from the batter’s box in a game. Brady had a 3-for-3 outing in No. 6 UCLA softball’s sweep-clinching victory over California on Saturday. (Patrick Shao/Daily Bruin)

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California0
No. 6 UCLA5

By Gavin Carlson

May 15, 2022 2:45 p.m.

This post was updated May 16 at 1:00 a.m.

The Bruins honored their five graduating players in their regular-season finale.

But it was an underclassman that stole the show.

Redshirt sophomore utility Maya Brady had a perfect day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two extra-base hits – including a two-run home run – as No. 6 UCLA softball (43-8-0, 19-5 Pac-12) clinched a series sweep over California (28-27-1, 8-16) on Senior Day on Saturday with a 5-0 win at Easton Stadium.

Following her first multi-extra-base hit game of the year, Brady said she wants to repay her teammates for the support they’ve shown her during the 2022 campaign.

“It’s super important for me to kind of supply for my team because they’ve had my back all year,” Brady said. “I just really wanted to win, not only because it was important for our team … but for the seniors.”

Brady jumpstarted the Bruin offense with a double off the top of the left-center field wall in the top of the second. Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez argued the ball hit the bottom of the scoreboard instead of the top of the wall – which would’ve resulted in a home run instead – but the umpires disagreed.

The dispute proved irrelevant shortly after, however, as freshman utility Savannah Pola hit Brady in on a grounder up the middle to give UCLA a 1-0 lead. Pola then scored three batters later on an opposite field blooper to extend the lead to 2-0.

After coming inches short of a home run, Brady made sure no umpire decision was needed on her next at-bat in the third frame.

Following a one-out walk from redshirt senior infielder Delanie Wisz, Brady crushed a no-doubter that not only cleared the center field wall but also landed on the batting cages several feet behind it. The two-run shot pushed her team’s lead to 4-0 and brought her home run total on the season to 12.

When asked about both her individual play and the team’s current form, Brady said the Bruins are motivated by the fact that they can extend the careers of the team’s seniors.

“We love the senior class, so we want to play with this team as long as possible,” Brady said. “The vibe is just like, ‘Let’s do whatever it takes to win.'”

While the redshirt sophomore led UCLA in hits, RBIs and runs Saturday, one of the honored seniors shined in the circle.

Outside of a bases-loaded jam – created by a hit by pitch and back-to-back singles for the Golden Bears – redshirt senior pitcher Holly Azevedo allowed three hits and struck out four in her 6.1 innings of scoreless work.

After completing her final regular-season start in her five-year UCLA career, Azevedo said her Senior Day was free from sadness as she knows there’s still more softball left this season.

“Knowing that we’re heading into postseason, there’s still more shots, there’s still more time,” Azevedo said. “Although it’s definitely a bittersweet moment, it’s not sad.”

UCLA heads into postseason play as the winners of three in a row following the weekend’s sweep of Cal, but it lost three out of its previous four games and dropped a chance at earning at least a share of the Pac-12 title.

Nonetheless, after outscoring the Golden Bears 23-4 in the final series of their regular-season campaign, redshirt senior infielder Kinsley Washington said the Bruins are right where they need to be.

“We’re peaking at just the right time,” Washington said. “A lot of teams peak too early, and then they kind of fall off at the end, so I think we’re good where we’re at right now.”

UCLA will find out how its postseason run will begin during the 2022 NCAA selection show at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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Gavin Carlson | Sports staff
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
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