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UCLA softball leaps past Grand Canyon Antelopes in mercy-rule NCAA regional win

Redshirt senior infielder Delanie Wisz runs to her teammates following her grand slam home run in No. 5 seed UCLA softball’s NCAA regional opener against Grand Canyon on Friday. Wisz set a career high in RBIs, with six, in the Bruins’ mercy-rule victory at Easton Stadium. (Jack Stenzel/Daily Bruin)

softball


Grand Canyon1
No. 5 seed UCLA12

By Diego Farinha

May 20, 2022 10:01 p.m.

This post was updated May 20 at 10:28 p.m.

The Bruins opened the postseason in mercy-rule fashion. 

No. 5 seed UCLA softball (44-8, 19-5 Pac-12) defeated Grand Canyon (39-15, 19-5 WAC) by a score of 12-1 in five innings Friday night at Easton Stadium to open the NCAA regionals. Behind a season-high in walks and a grand slam, the Bruins eclipsed 10 runs in a postseason opener for the first time since 2010 – a year they hoisted the national championship. 

“This team in 2022 has been breaking records,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “The pitchers have been breaking records. The offense has been breaking records. I’m not surprised. And I think the best part about that is – I’ve told the girls this – it’s no secret.”

In a 1-2-3 opening frame, redshirt senior pitcher Holly Azevedo and her Bruin defense made three routine outs to retire the side.

Azevedo, who tallied one strikeout to 14 combined flyouts and groundouts, said she recognizes the value of supporting her fielders in the postseason.

“It’s pretty important for a pitcher to field their position,” Azevedo said. “You can’t just rely on your backup, even though they’re excellent and super talented.” 

In the bottom half, the Antelopes’ defense was equal to the task. After redshirt senior infielder Briana Perez reached base via a walk, the shortstop was thrown out trying to go first to third on a right field single from redshirt senior infielder Delanie Wisz. Another walk extended the inning before a hard grounder off the bat of redshirt sophomore Maya Brady was handled by the Grand Canyon second baseman and left two runners stranded. 

The Bruins would break the tie in the second inning.

Three of the first four UCLA batters worked walks to load the bases, leading to a sacrifice fly from redshirt senior infielder Kinsley Washington. A Perez hit by pitch would reload the bases for Wisz, who hammered the first pitch over the right field fence for the Bruins’ second grand slam of the season and increased the lead to 5-0. 

As it did the previous inning, UCLA managed three walks to load the bases for the third time. This time, Perez and Wisz split the RBIs. Perez doubled home two runs before Wisz did the same with a two-run single. 

Inouye-Perez said she was impressed with her hitters’ discipline in the batter’s box that led to the high-scoring output. 

“I was really proud of that, especially on day one,” Inouye-Perez said. “There’s a lot of adrenaline. Everyone wants to be able to swing it big, … but to be selfless, (to) be able to have patience created those opportunities so that they could pass the bat.”

Wisz’s six-RBI outing set a new career high and tied her for the team’s individual-game season-high of six with freshman utility Savannah Pola. 

Wisz said having her career-setting performance come hours after being drafted professionally by the USSSA Pride was a dream come true.

“That’s been a dream of mine since I started playing softball,” Wisz said. “So for that to happen on today of all days is pretty cool.”

The Bruins poured on three more runs in the bottom of the fourth to build a double-digit lead. 

Meanwhile, Azevedo remained in the circle to record the complete game. Entering the fifth inning with a one-hitter, the Antelopes hit two doubles in the final frame to break the shutout, but the sole run was far from extending the game. 

“At the end of the ballgame, I would rather have her (Azevedo) challenge and have people put balls in play than to walk people and give free passes,” Inouye-Perez said. “They earned a couple of hits and I like that she pounded the zone – so great first day for UCLA.”

With the win, UCLA will be in action again Saturday at 2 p.m. against Loyola Marymount.

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Diego Farinha | Sports staff
Farinha is currently a Sports staffer on the softball beat. He was previously a reporter on the women's soccer beat.
Farinha is currently a Sports staffer on the softball beat. He was previously a reporter on the women's soccer beat.
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