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Maya Brady at-bats secure UCLA softball victories over UCF, Fresno State

Maya Brady of UCLA softball eyes the pitcher as she steps into the batter’s box. The redshirt junior utility notched her season high in RBIs against Fresno State on Friday. (Myka Fromm/Daily Bruin)


No. 2 UCLA2
Fresno State1
No. 2 UCLA8

By Matthew Royer

March 4, 2023 10:58 a.m.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, Maya Brady stepped up to the plate with a chance to break the 1-1 tie.

The redshirt junior utility took one swing of the bat and singled into left field to walk off her opponent.

No. 2 UCLA softball (19-1) returned to the win column Friday by defeating UCF (10-11) by a score of 2-1 and beating Fresno State (7-9) by a score of 8-1 in its first two games at the Judi Garman Classic. Brady was the difference in both contests, sealing the first win with a walk-off single and providing Bruins pitching with a 5-run cushion behind her fourth career multi-home run game in the nightcap.

“If you watch her when she’s playing, there’s a calm confidence in the box,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “It puts her in a position to do some serious damage on pitches. That’s something over time, she’s just gotten stronger and stronger. So she knows she’s capable of doing some pretty impressive things.”

Against UCF, the Bruins’ offense fell cold once again, failing to find a spark until the seventh inning – a trend that has continued since facing Iowa on Feb. 24. That wouldn’t be a concern for the pitching staff, however, as sixth-year pitcher Brooke Yanez executed seven innings of one-run ball, striking out seven and holding the Knights to just two hits while collecting her sixth win.

Junior outfielder Lauryn Carter said Yanez’s performance gave the offense the boost it needed to come alive against UCF and Fresno State.

“It gives the offense an opportunity to understand that we’re going to go up there and play,” Carter said. “That’s something we take really big pride in because you need both to win the game. It’s not just one.”

Carter’s heroics in the first game of the day kept the Bruins from going down early. In the first play against the Knights, Carter crashed into the left-field fence to make a catch that kept UCF designated player Katie Burge from reaching base. In the seventh, it was Carter’s sacrifice bunt that moved freshman utility Kennedy Powell into scoring position, allowing Brady to bring her home and clinch the win.

Inouye-Perez said Carter’s efforts in the game show how her pitchers will, in return, step up to build momentum. She also credited Carter for going all out for her fellow Bruins.

“That’s the commitment to do whatever it takes to have your teammates’ backs,” Inouye-Perez said. “That’s the strength of our program, is the defense will do whatever they can to support their pitchers and vice versa.”

With the Bulldogs next up, the offense picked up right where it had left off.

While freshman pitcher/infielder Taylor Tinsley and redshirt senior pitcher/first baseman Megan Faraimo combined to allow just one run, it was Brady once more who gave the Bruins a two-run lead on a three-run home run in the third frame.

With a two-run home run in the fifth, Brady continued her heavy offensive display, notching her fourth career multi-home run game and giving plenty of room for Faraimo to work with out of relief.

But Brady’s hot bat wasn’t solely with the long ball. She added hits in three of her eight at-bats on Friday, keeping her average on the season above .500.

“She’s filled the roles of (former infielders) Briana Perez and Kinsley Washington,” Carter said. “Maya is just being Maya. She not only shows her leadership through words but also through her actions and her performance.”

UCLA will continue its run at the Judi Garman Classic with contests against Michigan and Cal Poly on Saturday, as well as its first true road game of 2023 versus Cal State Fullerton on Sunday.

“We’re taking the hardest path, and I believe it will pay off,” Inouye-Perez said.

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Matthew Royer | City and crime editor
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