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UCLA softball splits games at Clearwater Invitational amid weather disruptions

UCLA softball redshirt senior shortstop Maya Brady begins her swing. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)


No. 20 UCLA14
No. 5 Florida State10
No. 20 UCLA2
No. 4 Georgia7

By Ava Abrishamchian

Feb. 18, 2024 11:35 a.m.

The Bruins earned one win and one loss in back-to-back games Friday afternoon.

“It’s February, so we’re going to put ourselves in a position to just grind through the preseason,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “We came out, competed and had a dogfight against a top tier Florida State team. And we didn’t finish on the Georgia game, but we’re learning.”

No. 20 UCLA softball (3-4) began the Shriners Children’s Clearwater Invitational in Florida with a 14-10 win against No. 5 Florida State (5-3) after an eight-run fourth inning for the Bruins. However, the Bruins were unable to pull out a second win against No. 4 Georgia (9-0) later that afternoon, falling 7-2. UCLA’s games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday against No. 2 Tennessee, North Carolina and Central Florida were canceled because of weather concerns.

“Tournament season can be super hard,” said redshirt senior shortstop Maya Brady. “Those are two competitive teams to play, so I think that’s just kind of how the game goes.”

The Bruins’ first match in Clearwater saw a back-and-forth fight between the two teams through the first four innings.

The Seminoles got off to a two-run lead in the first inning before a scoreless second for both teams.

Multiple walks in the third inning led to the Bruins adding four runs to the scorebook.

Florida State proceeded to hit back-to-back homers in the fourth inning to put UCLA behind for the second time in the contest.

In the fourth inning, junior utility Savannah Pola scored a solo home run to tie up the game 5-5. After Pola, sophomore utility Megan Grant hit a double. Two Bruins walked with the bases loaded, bringing Grant and sophomore infielder Jordan Woolery home to put UCLA ahead 7-5.

Senior utility Thessa Malau’ulu hit a single to send two more Bruins home.

Then Brady stepped up to the plate and rocketed off a three-run homer. The Bruins gained their largest lead of the day with a score of 12-5.

“It was a pass-the-bat type of effort,” Malau’ulu said. “Savannah started us off, Grant helped out, and everyone really wanted a piece of that action, so when we all got together and strung up hits.”

Florida State cut UCLA’s lead in half with five runs in the fifth and sixth innings. However, the two more runs for the Bruins in the sixth inning were enough for the Bruins to cement their win in the scorebook.

Those final runs of the game came from Brady’s second home run of the day, putting her third in career games with multiple home runs for the Bruins with seven.

“Everybody wants to hit, and everyone is excited and aggressive to hit because you want to make something happen, so it was a great game,” Brady said. “It just became contagious, and we got on a roll and it started happening.”

Immediately following their win over the Seminoles, the Bruins transitioned to the Bulldogs who they ultimately fell to 7-2. Despite a lead in the second inning after runs scored by graduate student outfielder Jadelyn Allchin and Malau’ulu, the Bruins were unable to produce enough to keep the Bulldogs at bay. With Georgia bouncing back in the third inning with four runs, UCLA was unable to find the lead again.

“We continued to try and get runners on base, and each inning we had a different plan to go up the middle,” Malau’ulu said. “We settled in a little bit in the second inning, … it’s just the ball wasn’t falling our way majority of the time.”

Sophomore pitcher Taylor Tinsley started both games, throwing 188 pitches from the plate.

Inouye-Perez said the Bruins are working towards being a cohesive unit.

“Our pitching staff is just not at 100%,” Inouye-Perez said. “There is no failure right now. It’s about being challenged, it’s being able to grow, it’s learning how you can improve and do better, … but I couldn’t be more proud.”

The Bruins will return to play next weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.

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Ava Abrishamchian
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