UCLA softball wins elimination bracket game in Women’s College World Series
Redshirt junior pitcher Megan Faraimo throws a pitch in a game May 13. Faraimo combined a 10 strikeout performance in the circle with a solo home run in the sixth in No. 5 seed UCLA softball’s elimination bracket matchup against No. 9 seed Northwestern in the Women’s College World Series. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin staff)
|No. 5 seed UCLA||6|
|No. 9 seed Northwestern||1|
By Jordan Coyle
June 3, 2022 7:37 p.m.
This post was updated June 3 at 8:08 p.m.
The Bruins are clawing their way out of the losers bracket – and it took a bit of magic.
“We have a thing called Bruin magic and Bruin magic is real here,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “And a big reason is because there’s a belief, there’s a belief that we can and we will.”
No. 5 seed UCLA softball (49-9, 19-5 Pac-12) avoided elimination in the Women’s College World Series after defeating No. 9 seed Northwestern (45-13, 19-4 Big Ten) by a score of 6-1 Friday. The blue and gold will advance to face the loser of No. 14 seed Florida and No. 7 seed Oklahoma State’s matchup in a Sunday afternoon contest.
It didn’t take long for the Bruins to put a run on the board.
Redshirt senior catcher Delanie Wisz took advantage of a leadoff walk of redshirt senior first baseman Kinsley Washington, knocking a single to left field. The first-inning hit marked the 15th run that Wisz has driven in during the postseason, earning her the title of the NCAA’s postseason RBI leader.
Inouye-Perez said Wisz is etching her name in college softball history.
“There’s so many great memories on this stage of hitters that just thrive in big situations,” Inouye-Perez said. “Lanie’s going down as one of those hitters that has the ability to come through in critical moments.”
In the fourth, a routine pop up would prove to be too much for the Wildcats.
With the bases loaded, Washington hit a fly ball to shallow right field that was dropped by left fielder Angela Zedak. Pola capitalized on the error by scoring UCLA’s second run of the game.
With one out on the books, the Bruins failed to tack on any extra insurance runs. Consecutive outs of All-Americans redshirt senior shortstop Briana Perez and Wisz left the bases loaded, contributing to a total of eight batters that UCLA stranded on base in the contest.
After giving up four runs in 2.1 innings in the WCWS-opener against Texas, redshirt junior pitcher Megan Faraimo kept Northwestern off the board through the first four frames.
In the fifth, the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year ran into her first jam of the game after relinquishing an RBI-double to second baseman Grace Nieto and walking her second batter of the inning.
With the bases loaded, Fariamo went head-to-head with right fielder Rachel Lewis, Northwestern’s all-time career home run leader. Falling behind 3-0 in the count against the Big Ten Player of the Year, Faraimo proceeded to lace three consecutive pitches down the middle to retire the Wildcats’ power hitter and end the inning.
Wisz said the right-handed pitcher thrives in these high-pressure situations.
“When Megan’s back is against the wall, that’s when the fiercest competitor comes out,” Wisz said. “She’s just a straight dog.”
After giving up a run in the circle, Faraimo made up for it in the batter’s box.
Leading off the sixth inning, Faraimo drilled her second home run of the year into the left field stands. The solo shot allowed the Bruins to recapture their two run lead.
Faraimo said the goal of every at-bat is simply to get on base, so hitting a home run was an added bonus.
“Every time I go up to bat I just try to have a quality at-bat,” Faraimo said. “For me that looks like, ‘I’m just really going to see the ball in and do whatever I can to get on base.’”
UCLA converted on its last chance to grow its lead with a three-run rally in the seventh. Following a single from Wisz and a double from redshirt sophomore center fielder Maya Brady, redshirt sophomore designated player Alyssa Garcia lined an RBI-single into left field. Vines laid down her first career squeeze bunt to score Brady followed by a fielder’s choice to give the Bruins a five-run advantage.
Faraimo closed out the contest for the Bruins with a scoreless seventh frame en route to her 11th double digit strikeout outing of the season.