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UCLA softball wins second Pac-12 series with two wins over Oregon

Sophomore utility Megan Grant holds the bat as she watches the pitcher. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Softball


No. 21 Oregon3
No. 15 UCLA5
No. 21 Oregon3
No. 15 UCLA6

By Matthew Royer

March 30, 2024 8:35 p.m.

This post was updated March 31 at 11:27 p.m.

Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said she had one big takeaway after Friday evening’s bout.

“The storm’s a Bruin,” Inouye-Perez said.

No, the Bruins’ longtime figurehead was not referring to the incoming rainstorm that would cancel Saturday’s contest.

She instead referenced the Bruins, who just secured their second Pac-12 series win and third-straight victory.

“We’re literally creating a storm,” Inouye-Perez said. “When it finally does unleash, watch out – it’s going to be very exciting.”

No. 15 UCLA softball (20-8, 6-2 Pac-12) won its series against No. 21 Oregon (20-12, 7-4), with wins Thursday and Friday by scores of 5-3 and 6-3, respectively. The consecutive victories were secured by a tale of two bats from sophomores infielder Ramsey Suarez and utility Megan Grant, each of whom executed pivotal at-bats for the Bruins.

On Thursday, the Bruins led 3-2 heading into the sixth inning. Five innings of two-run ball from freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Terry up to that point allowed the Bruins to maintain their lead, with only six outs needed to clinch the series opener.

However, 11 pitches later, a hit batter, a double and a throwing error from redshirt senior outfielder Janelle Meoño tied the game for the Ducks and drove Terry out of the game. While sophomore pitcher Taylor Tinsley stopped the bleeding, the offense needed a run to avoid potential extra innings or a loss.

First up was sophomore infielder Jordan Woolery, who singled into left field. Next, Grant drew a walk. After a sacrifice bunt moved pinch runners over to second and third, Suarez stepped up to the plate as a pinch hitter.

Suarez, who had one hit in her previous five games, took two strikes.

On the next pitch, she swung. Lifting a ball well beyond the left fielder to the wall, the Temecula local put the Bruins up by two.

“Everything that I do is for the team,” Suarez said. “I’m so glad I could come through for them. I’ve been wanting to do that.”

Inouye-Perez said associate head coach Lisa Fernandez’s work with the pinch-hitter unit, prepared Suarez, among others, to enter the batter’s box when the game was on the line. She added that Thursday’s game-winning hit was proof that Suarez’s hard work paid off.

“She’s putting in hundreds of cuts a day, for one moment, for one pitch,” Inouye-Perez said. “That’s a product of it. I call it the game paying you back.”

After the inning ended, Tinsley took to the field for the seventh and shut down the Ducks to secure the Bruins’ win.

On Friday, Tinsley received the start, and the hitters found unilateral success.

The Bruins took the lead in the first inning on a fielding error and never relinquished it. During the game, all but two members of the starting lineup tallied a hit, and the barrage of baserunners culminated in a burst of runs supplied by Grant in the fourth.

Grant – who has the second-highest batting average on the team behind redshirt senior shortstop Maya Brady – stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded after Meoño singled, redshirt senior catcher Sharlize Palacios walked and Woolery was hit by a pitch.

Grant put a drive into the ball and launched it well into the trees that sit beyond the right field wall of Easton Stadium. The grand slam marked her third home run of the season and put the Bruins up by five heading into the fifth inning.

“It was like a dream – honestly,” Grant said. “It’s kind of like fireworks.”

Inouye-Perez said entering the fourth inning, the Bruins needed to start leveraging the runners they had left on base – six up to that point. She added that she told her team they needed to drive those runners in.

As she has through her almost two years in blue and gold, Grant delivered.

“That was an epic big punch that we needed,” Inouye-Perez said. “You would never expect for it to be a grand slam, but it was a big part of our ability to win this ballgame.”

The final game of the series Saturday was cancelled due to rain.

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Matthew Royer | National news and higher education editor
Royer is the 2023-2024 national news and higher education editor. He is also a Sports staff writer on the men’s soccer and softball beats and is Copy staff. He was previously the 2022-2023 city and crime editor and a contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a fourth-year political science student minoring in labor studies from West Hills, California.
Royer is the 2023-2024 national news and higher education editor. He is also a Sports staff writer on the men’s soccer and softball beats and is Copy staff. He was previously the 2022-2023 city and crime editor and a contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a fourth-year political science student minoring in labor studies from West Hills, California.
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