UCLA softball overcomes deficit to defeat Duke in 1st game of Super Regional
Redshirt junior pitcher Megan Faraimo throws a pitch during No. 5 seed UCLA softball’s Los Angeles Super Regional opener against No. 12 seed Duke. Faraimo fanned 10 batters and hit a go-ahead two-RBI single to propel the blue and gold to a win Friday. (Jack Stenzel/Daily Bruin)
|No. 12 seed Duke||2|
|No. 5 seed UCLA||3|
By Jordan Coyle
May 27, 2022 10:44 p.m.
This post was updated May 27 at 11:31 p.m.
Down 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Megan Faraimo entered the game as a pinch hitter.
Moments earlier, the redshirt junior pitcher recorded her eighth strikeout for the Bruins in their Super Regional opener against the Blue Devils.
With runners on second and third and two outs, Faraimo laced the second pitch she faced into right field for a two-RBI single to give the blue and gold its first lead of the game.
“That’s a situation that I prepare for all the time – one shots – and in that moment, all my team was telling me was, ‘Think oppo, just think opposite field,’” Faraimo said. “I was going to do whatever I could to get the ball on that side of the field.”
Riding a 10-strikeout, two-RBI outing from Faraimo, No. 5 seed UCLA softball (47-8, 19-5 Pac-12) defeated No. 12 seed Duke softball (44-10, 19-3 ACC) by a score of 3-2 on Friday. By clinching game one of the Los Angeles Super Regional, the Bruins are one win away from their 31st trip to the Women’s College World Series.
Although Faraimo’s performance in the circle and in the batter’s box secured UCLA’s victory, the Blue Devils had early success hitting against the right-hander.
After walking the leadoff batter in four pitches, Faraimo gave up an RBI double to designated player Deja Davis to give Duke a first-inning lead. Faraimo retaliated by striking out the next two batters she faced, limiting the damage to one run.
Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said she was not discouraged that the Blue Devils struck first.
“It doesn’t really matter who throws the first punch because we’re going to have the opportunity for the last punch,” Inouye-Perez said. “It became a critical opportunity for us to be able to finish stronger.”
The Bruins were unable to convert hits into runs during their first turn in the batter’s box.
Back-to-back infield singles from redshirt senior first baseman Kinsley Washington and redshirt senior shortstop Briana Perez gave UCLA two baserunners with no outs. Duke pitcher Jala Wright retired the following three batters, stranding two runners in scoring position.
Despite tacking on two more strikeouts in the second frame, Faraimo was unable to escape the inning scot-free. The Blue Devils’ lead grew to 2-0 after third baseman Ana Gold hit a solo shot over the left field fences.
In the top of the third, the Bruins’ defense came up clutch for its pitcher.
After giving up back-to-back singles, Faraimo quickly found herself in a no-out jam. A running catch from Perez followed by a 6-4-3 double play allowed UCLA to break out of the inning without relinquishing any runs.
Having unleashed an energized yell following her teammate’s inning-ending double play, Faraimo later said the Bruins’ defense invigorated her.
“My team is where I get all my energy from, and when they make plays like that, it just fires me up,” Faraimo said. “In turn, when we get back on offense, the momentum starts going our way, and then things like that happen in the game.”
A leadoff single from Washington got the hitting started for the Bruins in the bottom of the frame. After safely reaching third on a Perez double, Washington was tagged out at home on her attempt to snag an extra base. The next two batters grounded out, leaving Perez on second and failing to put UCLA on the board.
Reaching base on her third single of the game in the fifth inning, Washington would soon become the first Bruin to cross home plate. Two at-bats later, redshirt senior catcher Delanie Wisz drilled a double to right center to score UCLA’s first run of the contest.
Washington, who went 4-for-4 in the batter’s box, said she attributes her success Friday to her versatility.
“My approach today was definitely just using all parts of my game,” Washington said. “All year, I’ve used my power hitting, my bunting, my slap hitting, so just being a triple threat out there on the field.”
Faraimo recorded three consecutive 1-2-3 frames in the fourth through sixth innings, facing the minimum nine batters and notching four strikeouts in the process.
Following her go-ahead single in the sixth, Faraimo reentered the circle one last time to close out the game for the Bruins. The right-hander struck out her ninth and 10th batter before a pop-up to right field sealed the victory for the blue and gold.