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With weekend sweep, UCLA softball turns final nonconference tournament around

Freshman utility Megan Grant participates in a cheer with UCLA softball. Grant tallied six hits and five RBIs across five contests at the Judi Garman Classic. (Myka Fromm/Daily Bruin)

Softball


No. 2 UCLA16
Cal Poly0
No. 2 UCLA8
Michigan0
No. 2 UCLA6
Cal State Fullerton2

By Nick Darrow

March 6, 2023 2:31 p.m.

In the second half of their final nonconference tournament of the season, the Bruins came away with a weekend sweep.

No. 2 UCLA softball (22-1) left the Judi Garman Classic having claimed all five of its contests, defeating Cal Poly (7-6) by a score of 16-0, and Michigan (10-10) by a score of 8-0 on Saturday before besting Cal State Fullerton (11-9) 6-2 on Sunday. Hitting drove the matchups, as the Bruins scored 30 runs on 40 hits compared to a cumulative two and seven for their opponents.

Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said her team’s success has been a product of individual contributions.

“UCLA softball is at its best when we have depth from all positions,” Inouye-Perez said. “We can have the starting nine do it. We have people who will come off the bench and do it. We have the versatility and athleticism to compete in every game.”

On Saturday, UCLA had back-to-back games against Cal Poly and Michigan, with both cut short in the fifth inning due to the mercy rule.

Freshman pitcher Taylor Tinsley threw a complete-game shutout against Cal Poly as the sun rose. Six different Bruins recorded multi-hit games, including a three-hit, grand-slam performance from redshirt junior catcher Sharlize Palacios. The bulk of the Bruins’ runs came in the second inning, where they put up 11.

And in the following contest, the runs kept on coming for the blue and gold.

In a preview of a future Big Ten matchup, UCLA piled on eight runs via 15 hits against Michigan. Redshirt senior pitcher Megan Faraimo threw the second complete-game shutout in as many games, tallying four strikeouts and allowing just one hit.

At the plate, freshman utility Megan Grant led the charge. With a 4-4 performance – a triple shy of the cycle– Grant moved her batting average on the campaign to .308 and now sits second on the team in RBIs with 26.

Redshirt senior outfielder Kelli Godin said she feels the team is clicking and gelling at the right time.

“Our team is getting in the swing of things and as the season goes on, we are only going to continue to get better and be ready for each game we face,” Godin said.

On Sunday, the Bruins faced a rematch against Fullerton, a team they previously beat 3-0 to open the season.

For the first four and a half innings, the game appeared set on a very similar path, with the Bruins up 2-0 and sixth-year pitcher Brooke Yanez yet to allow a hit. However, in the bottom of the fifth, the Titans were able to tie the score and even the game at two.

But the tie didn’t last long. Half an inning later, the Bruins scored four more runs, putting the game out of the Titans’ reach and giving the blue and gold the 6-2 win.

Palacios would spearhead the offensive outburst with a bases-clearing triple to put the Bruins out front. Faraimo then came on in relief for Yanez and closed out the sixth and seventh innings, giving her the save on the night.

Palacios said she understood the moment and was ready to step up to the plate and make any difference she could.

“I love those moments, so I just completely locked in because I knew that I needed to make an impact for my team,” Palacios said. “It got to a 3-1 count, and (I) finally got the pitch that I was looking for. So I took advantage and helped out my team.”

Having completed its slate of nonconference tournaments, UCLA will face Howard at home Tuesday at 6 p.m. before commencing Pac-12 play.

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Nick Darrow | Sports reporter
Darrow is currently a Sports reporter on the men's soccer beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's tennis, men's volleyball and men's soccer beats.
Darrow is currently a Sports reporter on the men's soccer beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's tennis, men's volleyball and men's soccer beats.
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