Marking historic upset, UCLA softball falls to Grand Canyon in NCAA regionals
Kelly Inouye-Perez of UCLA softball walks back to the dugout. Having brought the Bruins to the Women’s College World Series in each of her last seven seasons, the coach is at risk of snapping that streak should the team lose this Saturday.(Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)
|No. 2 seed UCLA||2|
May 19, 2023 9:49 p.m.
Just one game into the postseason, the Bruins are now one loss away from it all coming to an end.
No. 2 seed UCLA softball (52-6, 21-3 Pac-12) lost to Grand Canyon (47-11, 17-7 WAC) by a 3-2 score in the first game of the NCAA Los Angeles Regional on Friday evening. The Bruins struck first with an RBI single from freshman utility Megan Grant, but after redshirt senior pitcher Megan Faraimo conceded a three-run homerun, their offense could not recover.
The defeat marked the first time UCLA has lost back-to-back games all season and the first time since 2013 the team has lost its opening game of regionals. The Bruins are now in the losers bracket in a regional for the first time since 2018.
Some trouble with control – including three walks and the aforementioned long ball from Grand Canyon’s Madison Schaefer – led to Faraimo’s removal and a 3-1 deficit heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.
“It’s every single pitch,” Faraimo said. “You have to focus up, and you can’t afford to make one mistake. It’s just something I have to work on. I have to have my team’s back.”
Graduate student Lauren Shaw and sixth-year Brooke Yanez kept the Antelopes’ batters at bay from the fourth inning onward. The two veteran pitchers combined to only allow two hits and held Grand Canyon scoreless as UCLA’s bats entered their final three outs down one run.
But their efforts were all for naught. The Bruins failed to capitalize on redshirt junior outfielder Janelle Meoño’s two-out single in the seventh.
“Throughout that at-bat, I just knew that I wasn’t going to win the game by myself,” Meoño said.
Meoño added that she hoped by getting on base, she could give her teammates the at-bats needed to tie the game or induce a walk-off.
Despite the undertaking, Grant, who scored the Bruins’ two runs earlier in the contest, could not pull through for a third time, popping out to secure the Antelopes’ upset victory.
After a scoreless first two frames, UCLA’s offense initially picked up in the third inning after Grant’s run-scoring single. The slugging newcomer continued to produce for the Bruins in the fifth, hitting a solo home run to deep center field and closing the deficit to just one run heading into the final innings of the game.
However, the lineup could not regain control of the regional opener.
The rest of the team combined for a 5-for-23 effort at the plate, with graduate student outfielder Aaliyah Jordan serving as an outlier with her two singles.
Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said the difference between her team’s approach compared to Grand Canyon’s was that it was able to capitalize in critical situations, while the Bruins could not.
“Tonight, we all have to own it,” Inouye-Perez said. “We didn’t come through with runners in scoring position – they did. That’s the game.”
UCLA will continue its run in the Los Angeles Regional on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. against either Liberty or San Diego State – now a must-win contest.