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UCLA softball eliminated from Women’s College World Series with loss to Stanford

Members of UCLA softball group. The Bruins were eliminated from the NCAA tournament Sunday. (Zimo Li/Daily Bruin)

Softball


No. 6 seed UCLA1
No. 8 seed Stanford3

By Matthew Royer

June 2, 2024 9:39 p.m.

Taylor Tinsley and NiJaree Canady went the distance April 19 – nine innings to be exact – nearly cementing an all-time Pac-12 pitcher’s duel in the first of three between UCLA and Stanford.

A controversial obstruction call gave the Bruins the lead and the eventual win – a feat they would repeat twice that weekend for a road sweep of the Cardinal as they claimed first place in the conference.

But as both coaches will tell you, the regular season means nothing come June.

“We were right where we needed to be,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “We ran out of time.”

No. 6 seed UCLA softball’s (43-12, 17-4 Pac-12) season and national championship hopes came to an end Sunday in Oklahoma City against No. 8 seed Stanford (50-16, 17-7), after Canady’s seven innings of one-run ball helped to secure a 3-1 Cardinal victory. Canady – the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year – struck out eight batters, including Maya Brady thrice.

For the second time in as many days – and the fourth time in her career – the redshirt senior shortstop punched out three times in a game, ending her collegiate career on a 0-7 streak. The Bruins’ top three batters – Brady, graduate student outfielder Jadelyn Allchin and redshirt senior catcher Sharlize Palacios – were 1-9 against Canady.

“The whole country is not going to serve it up on a platter,” Inouye-Perez said.

Despite the outcome, the Bruins scored early in the form of their cleanup hitter, as sophomore utility Megan Grant represented the only run with a solo shot in the second.

Holding a one-run lead, freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Terry executed a nine-pitch inning in the third, sending the Bruins’ offense back out to face Canady and the Cardinal.

However, UCLA’s scoring ended there. Palacios continued her OKC slump. With runners on the corners and two outs, the All-Pac-12 First Team backstop grounded out to end the half of the frame.

The missed opportunity to tack on runs proved costly for the Bruins. After Terry conceded a single to begin the third inning, infielder Taryn Kern tied the game with a double two batters later.

Inouye-Perez opted to turn to the bullpen, sending out Tinsley – who won all three games against Stanford in April – for the final 3.2 innings. The game marked her third relief appearance in the Women’s College World Series.

“That’s why I wanted to be a pitcher in the first place,” Tinsley said. “Having everybody’s eyes on me, it’s honestly the best.”

Redshirt senior shortstop Maya Brady swings at a pitch. Brady struck out three times against Stanford on Sunday. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Tinsley struck out the first batter she saw on three pitches but could not hold the advantage. A single into right field scored Kern, giving the Cardinal a 2-1 lead.

Down by two in the seventh, the Bruins looked to have a two-out rally. Canady hit junior utility Savannah Pola to end a nine-pitch at-bat, and a single up the middle from senior utility Thessa Malau’ulu put two on for pinch hitter Ramsey Suarez.

Suarez – who hit above .300 in pinch-hitting opportunities this season – represented the winning run.

However, fate was on Canady’s side. The sophomore infielder rolled over a pitch to short, ending the Bruins’ season.

The game marked the final contest between Pac-12 softball programs.

“It was a battle all year,” Brady said. “In the Pac, we’re proud of our conference – ‘The Conference of Champions.’ … Obviously, one of us had to go home.”

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Matthew Royer | Alumnus
Royer joined the Bruin and the News section as a first-year transfer student in 2022 and contributed until he graduated in 2024. He was the 2023-2024 national news and higher education editor and the 2022-2023 city and crime (metro) editor. He was also a Sports staff writer on the men’s soccer and softball beats and was Copy staff. He studied political science and minored in labor studies.
Royer joined the Bruin and the News section as a first-year transfer student in 2022 and contributed until he graduated in 2024. He was the 2023-2024 national news and higher education editor and the 2022-2023 city and crime (metro) editor. He was also a Sports staff writer on the men’s soccer and softball beats and was Copy staff. He studied political science and minored in labor studies.
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