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UCLA softball batters record 11 strikeouts in WCWS loss to Oklahoma

Members of UCLA softball stand on the diamond. (Aidan Sun/Daily Bruin)

Softball


No. 6 seed UCLA0
No. 2 seed Oklahoma1

By Samantha Garcia

June 1, 2024 4:35 p.m.

The Bruins lost their first game of the postseason, picking up 11 strikeouts – the second-most they’ve recorded this season.

Redshirt senior shortstop Maya Brady struck out three times for the first time in three years and for the first time by a single pitcher. She failed to reach first base in all four of her at-bats.

No. 6 seed UCLA softball (43-11, 17-4 Pac-12) fell 1-0 to No. 2 seed Oklahoma (56-6, 22-5 Big 12) in its second game of the Women’s College World Series. The Bruins will face No. 8 seed Stanford – the only other Pac-12 team remaining in the tournament – in an elimination game Sunday. 

“We’re going to take another path, but we’re still on a mission,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “We’re better than that and our best is yet to come.”

The pitching battle featured a Women’s College World Series veteran and two rookies – Kelly Maxwell for the Sooners versus freshman Kaitlyn Terry and sophomore Taylor Tinsley for the Bruins. 

The Sooners wasted no time in the opening inning with three swift outs. Maxwell struck out the first two batters, including Brady – marking her fourth strikeout in her last 53 at-bats. 

But she didn’t stop there. Maxwell struck out two more batters in the second and two more in the third. 

“She’s their ace and obviously they’re at this point because of her,” Brady said. “I think Jennifer (Oklahoma coach Jennifer Rocha) is a great pitch caller, so sometimes it’s just not your day and sometimes it’s the pitcher’s day.”

Starting for the second consecutive game, Terry faced early challenges against the three-straight national champions who loaded the bases in the first inning. 

Sophomore utility Megan Grant hustled to catch a fly ball in right field that gave the Bruins their second out of the inning with two runners on base. A second walk from Terry loaded the bases. But the 2024 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year made it out of the inning unscathed with a crucial strikeout. 

Terry faced fewer batters in the second inning and allowed only one runner on base, but with the first pitch of the third inning, infielder Tiare Jennings launched a home run over the center field fence to put the Sooners on the board. 

Redshirt senior outfielder Janelle Meoño helped UCLA get out of the inning with only one run as she robbed what would have been Oklahoma’s second homer of the inning with a leaping catch at the wall. 

Sophomore infielder Jordan Woolery’s single in the fourth inning marked the first hit for the Bruins of the day, but she didn’t make it far as she was out at second on the next play. 

With only one runner on base after a hit batter, the Bruins’ defense locked it down in the bottom of the fourth to end the inning with no runs for the Sooners. 

With her eighth strikeout through five innings, Maxwell struck out Brady for a third consecutive time. 

Redshirt senior shortstop Maya Brady holds the bat. Brady struck out three times for the third time in her career Saturday. (Aidan Sun/Daily Bruin)

Tinsley stepped into the circle for Terry in the fifth inning, and the Bruins’ defense recorded their first 1-2-3 inning of the game.

“They (Terry and Tinsley) were super composed from the first pitch that they pitched,” said redshirt senior catcher Sharlize Palacios. “They had all their good stuff today. They are gritty competitors.”

Both Maxwell and Tinsley struck out two batters in the sixth inning – sending the Bruins into the seventh inning with the Sooners up by one. 

Oklahoma went 1-2-3 in the seventh inning, starting with Maxwell’s eleventh strikeout of the game and ending with a ground out for Brady – keeping Brady off base for the entire game. 

The Sooners handed the Bruins their first loss of the tournament and ended their 14-game winning streak.  

Across the game, the Bruins left seven runners on base, including four in scoring position.

“Being able to come through with runners in scoring position is what you got to do if you want to win national championships,” Inouye-Perez said.

UCLA will switch over to the other side of the bracket to play Stanford – likely facing the 2024 Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year and USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year in pitcher NiJaree Canady. 

“[We] faced NiJa twice. She’s a great pitcher,” Brady said. “We’re just going to have to go out and have quality at-bats and be one pitch better than we were today.”

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Samantha Garcia | Sports contributor
Garcia is currently a contributor on the gymnastics and softball beats.
Garcia is currently a contributor on the gymnastics and softball beats.
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