UCLA drops WCWS opener marred by controversial calls

Fourteen years ago, the UCLA softball team lost its opening game in the Women’s College World Series. It went on to become the second team to ever win a national championship after being diverted to the loser’s bracket in its first game.

That is a similarity the 2017 Bruins are hoping to share with the 2003 team after dropping Thursday’s WCWS game to LSU, 2-1. There was a distinct difference, however, in their opening performances. UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez would know. She was an assistant at UCLA in 2003.

“In 2003 we lost Game 1, but in a whole different way,” Inouye-Perez said. “We just didn’t show up and play our game, and it didn’t feel really good. Today we played UCLA softball. I’m proud of them. But I also said we need to figure out how to be 1 percent better to be able to get after the next W.”

READ: UCLA’s controversial WCWS loss hinges on two plays at the plate

The UCLA softball coach directly addressed the controversial call at the plate that awarded LSU the game-winning run in the fifth inning and prompted a heated discussion between Inouye-Perez and the home plate umpire. The UCLA coach plainly stated at the postgame news conference that she disagreed with the call and stands by her judgement.

Bruins catcher Paige Halstead was called for obstruction after tagging out an LSU runner at the plate. The rule states that a runner’s path can’t be impeded by a player without the ball. While Halstead was in the baseline the entire play, she clearly had the ball well before the LSU runner reached the plate.

“You dream about making those plays when you’re a little girl when you’re a catcher,” Halstead said. “I don’t think I blocked the pathway. She made a great throw and it was a bang-bang play.”