By defeating Oregon, UCLA softball clinches third consecutive conference series
Lauryn Carter awaits a pitch. The junior outfielder for UCLA softball knocked a grand slam against Oregon on Saturday to mark her highest single-game RBI output of the season. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)
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|No. 19 Oregon||3|
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|No. 19 Oregon||4|
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By Sam Lieberman
March 27, 2023 5:15 p.m.
Down 2-1 in the top of the fourth inning Saturday, Lauryn Carter stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded.
In the junior outfielder’s 90 career games, she had just one home run and seven RBIs across 56 at bats.
But on a 0-1 pitch, Carter blasted a ball over the left field fence, giving the Bruins the lead.
After No. 3 UCLA softball (29-4, 6-3 Pac-12) dropped the series opener against No. 19 Oregon (20-10, 3-6) by a score of 3-0 on Friday, Carter’s power helped the blue and gold get back in the win column Saturday with a 7-4 victory before the Bruins closed out the weekend with a 6-2 victory on Sunday.
“It was honestly one of the best moments,” Carter said. “It was an exciting moment not only for me but just to know that I helped put my team in a great position to win the ballgame.”
In Friday’s contest, Oregon pitcher Morgan Scott limited UCLA batters to just two hits in a shutout. The performance marked the third complete game for the UNC Greensboro transfer and two-time Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year.
Scott out-dueled the reigning Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week in redshirt senior Megan Faraimo, who tallied six strikeouts in six innings.
Faraimo allowed just one earned run – a home run by Oregon catcher Terra McGowan in the bottom of the first inning. McGowan led all players in Friday’s contest with two hits and two RBIs.
The other two Duck runs were set up by a pair of infield errors – one by redshirt senior utility Anna Vines in the third inning and another by redshirt junior utility Maya Brady in the fifth.
Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said there was one reason for UCLA’s struggles against Scott.
“It was very simple, we just didn’t swing the bat,” Inouye-Perez said. “So, we took notes, had a little gut check, came back and played a different game today (Saturday).”
And on Saturday, UCLA wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Brady hit a one-out double off Stevie Hansen, and freshman infielder Jordan Woolery followed with an RBI single to give the Bruins a 1-0 advantage in the first.
Inouye-Perez sent sixth-year pitcher Brooke Yanez to the circle for UCLA. Yanez transferred from Oregon ahead of the 2023 season, with Saturday marking her first start against her former team.
But it wouldn’t be an extended homecoming, as Yanez faced only four batters before being replaced by Faraimo. Faraimo almost escaped Yanez’s jam with one run allowed but committed an error that allowed Oregon to build a 2-1 lead.
The Bruins’ next big chance came in the fourth inning with Carter’s grand slam.
After a single by sophomore utility Savannah Pola, redshirt junior outfielder Janelle Meoño notched an infield single, her first hit since March 4. Then, graduate student outfielder Aaliyah Jordan smacked a single of her own, her first hit since returning from a torn ACL injury last season.
“Every day when I was at rehab, I was just thinking about the moment that I got to play back with all these girls,” Jordan said. “It’s all worth it obviously.”
Inouye-Perez had nothing but praise for the two-time All-American’s return.
“It was really awesome to be able to see her comeback,” Inouye-Perez said. “To be able to come back for a seventh year after all the adversity that she’s had to overcome, … everybody celebrated this.”
On the pitching side, Faraimo was strong in relief through the remaining 6.2 innings. Faraimo’s only blemish was another home run by McGowan in the bottom of the sixth, a two-run blast that cut the Bruins’ lead to 5-4.
However, redshirt junior catcher Sharlize Palacios hit a two-run shot of her own in the top of the seventh, providing Faraimo with some insurance to close out the win.
In Sunday’s rubber match, UCLA jumped out to a quick 2-0 first-inning lead. Hansen lasted only one inning for Oregon before being replaced by Scott.
For the Bruins, Yanez got her second consecutive start, this time lasting 2.1 innings before a third-inning home run knocked her out of the game. Yanez gave up two runs, which would be all the Ducks could muster as the relief efforts of Faraimo and freshman pitcher Taylor Tinsley shut them down.
Entering the seventh, Scott had yet to allow a run over 14 innings pitched on the weekend. That all changed when UCLA put up four runs in the frame, highlighted by back-to-back home runs from Brady and Woolery.
Inouye-Perez credited the Ducks and said she was impressed with how her team rallied back to win the series.
“Oregon’s a very scrappy team, they don’t give up,” Inouye-Perez said. “We competed, and I’m very proud of how we played.”
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