Losing to Oklahoma and Stanford ends UCLA's softball season

UCLA entered last weekend's battle tested and poised to make a run at the Women's College World Series title and it showed in their opening game against No. 14 Alabama when Bruins first baseman Jordan Woolery launched a 3-run homerun in the 6th inning to secure a 4-1 victory.

Entering the winner's column, on Saturday the Bruins matched up against No. 2 Oklahoma (56-6), who came in on an 18-game winning streak. The Sooners ace, Kelly Maxwell took the mound, and racked up 11 strikeouts, while only giving up two hits for a complete game. The Bruins countered in what appeared to be a pitcher's duel with Kaitlyn Terry and Taylor Tinsley who combined to allow just four hits against the Sooners. Oklahoma shortstop, Tiare Jennings, accounted for 2 of those hits, one of which was a solo home run that made the difference in the 1-0 victory.

Kelly Inouye-Perez, UCLA Head Softball Coach summed up the level of competition, the Bruins performance and the Women's College World Series after their first loss to Oklahoma, "This is the best of the best. Offense is not something that you have. Everybody would love to run-rule teams on this stage. It's not something you can come in and expect when you're facing the best pitchers in the country. We were inconsistent with what we were trying to do at the plate. You're facing the best pitchers in the game. But the best teams will find a way to make adjustments against these pitchers. We have to be one pitch better."

Knocked down, but not out because of the double elimination format of the first weekend of the Women's College World Series, the Bruins' room for error was cut in half. Sunday's elimination game was against No. 8 Stanford, who had pitching phenom and the 2024 National Player of the Year NiJaree Canady on the mound. The Bruins got to Canady early to score their only run in the game when UCLA right fielder Megan Grant hit one over the left field fence for a solo home run to take a 1-0 lead early in the game. It looked like the several hour weather delays affected Canady early, who got sharper and seized control as the game progressed throughout the night. Canady got run support with two runs in the bottom of the third and one run in the bottom of the fifth, and ended the Bruins season with a 3-1 victory.

Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn famously broke down the simplicity of the game when stating, "Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing." Both the Sooners and Cardinals did a better job of upsetting UCLA Senior Stars Maya Brady and Sharlize Palacios timing, who combined to go 0-13 in the final two games and that was the difference in the two loses.

The future looks bright for the Bruins Softball Team. UCLA underclassmen making their Oklahoma City debuts delivered in a lot of key moments on the biggest stage. Sophomore Jordan Woolery won the opening game with a three-run homer in the sixth inning against Alabama. Freshman pitcher Terry and sophomore pitcher Tinsley held the three-time defending champion Sooners to one run in last Saturday's pitchers' duel.

Head Coach Inouye-Perez's post-game remarks after their second loss in the tournament confirmed the mentality of these Bruins has been consistent all year, "I just look forward to the future. The experience they gained on this stage is real. They have a fire burning in their guts."

 

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