Lisa Fernandez suspended 2 games for contact with umpire

UCLA assistant coach Lisa Fernandez was ejected during the sixth inning of the softball team’s 8-2 win over Texas A&M at the WCWS. (AP photo)

Lisa Fernandez made contact with an umpire after the UCLA softball team’s assistant coach was ejected during the Bruins’ 8-2 win over Texas A&M in the Women’s College World Series Saturday morning. She will be suspended two games as a result of the contact, according to NCAA Softball Secretary and Rules Editor Vickie Van Kleeck.

Fernandez, one of the most famous pitchers to ever play softball, has coached at alma mater UCLA for 15 years. If UCLA is eliminated from the WCWS by Washington Saturday evening, Fernandez will also be suspended for the first game of next season.

The play that led to the ejection occurred in the sixth inning when UCLA senior Gabrielle Maurice hit her head on the ground trying to touch home plate. Fernandez was arguing that she was obstructed by the Texas A&M catcher, who made contact with Maurice as she fielded a throw and tagger Maurice on the face.

Maurice was called out, immediately inciting an argument between the home plate umpire and UCLA head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez and Fernandez. Once Fernandez was ejected, she quickly walked closer and her hands briefly made contact with the home plate umpire’s chest protector.

“What you saw with myself and Coach Fernandez is I’m not going to tolerate allowing the players to put themselves in position to possibly get hurt,” Inouye-Perez said. “That is ultimately the job of the officials. We all simply had each other’s backs.” Continue reading “Lisa Fernandez suspended 2 games for contact with umpire” »

UCLA softball team stays alive at WCWS; Lisa Fernandez ejected

The UCLA softball team’s stay at the Women’s College World Series got a little longer and a lot more memorable Saturday morning.

Facing elimination against ninth-seeded Texas A&M, the fifth-seeded Bruins responded with an 8-2 win in Oklahoma City that advanced them to a Saturday’s 4 p.m. quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Washington.

Redshirt freshman Rachel Garcia allowed one run on three hits in six innings and hit a two-run home run in UCLA’s five-run seventh inning that blew open a two-run game. The Bruins seemed particularly motivated in the seventh after a play in the sixth that left senior Gabrielle Maurice’s face scratched and bloodied and obviously struck a nerve with 15th-year assistant coach Lisa Fernandez.

On the back end of a double steal, Maurice was tagged in the face trying to avoid the Texas A&M catcher and slammed her head on the ground in the process.

Fernandez and UCLA head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez immediately began to argue the call – obstruction is a particularly sensitive subject after a questionable obstruction call against UCLA’s catcher awarded LSU the game-winning run in the Bruins’ 2-1 loss in Thursday’s WCWS opener – and Fernandez didn’t stop arguing until whe was ejected.

She appeared to make contact with the home plate umpire after being ejected, the punishment for which is a two-game suspension. The incident is being reviewed by the NCAA. Continue reading “UCLA softball team stays alive at WCWS; Lisa Fernandez ejected” »

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. Continue reading “UCLA drops WCWS opener marred by controversial calls” »

UCLA softball chases 12th NCAA title

Senior Gabrielle Maurice plays a critical role in UCLA’s defense in left field. (Photo courtesy Katie Meyers)

UCLA isn’t just happy to be back in Oklahoma City for the third straight year. The Bruins are itching for a title.

“Third time’s the charm,” senior Gabrielle Maurice said. “We’re hoping to get after it this year.”

READ: UCLA calm, confident heading into WCWS

It’s been seven years since UCLA’s last title, the longest drought in school history for the nation’s most decorated program. The Bruins start the hunt for their 12th NCAA title Thursday against No. 13 LSU at 11:30 a.m. PT in the first round of the Women’s College World Series.

Compared to the 2015 team that was making UCLA’s first World Series appearance in four years, this squad in Oklahoma City has confidence and composure while dealing with the pressures of the sport’s biggest stage.

“Great excitement, but there’s also a great calm,” head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “We can’t wait to get out there and play with a great focus we’ve been playing with.”

No. 5 UCLA (47-13) vs. No. 13 LSU (47-20)

When: Thursday, 11:30 a.m. PT
Where: USA Hall of Fame Stadium (Oklahoma City)

Rachel Garcia wins NFCA National Freshman of the Year

Rachel Garcia was named the freshman of the year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Katie Meyers)

UCLA pitcher Rachel Garcia was named the Freshman of the Year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) on Tuesday after the redshirt freshman ace powered the Bruins to their third straight Women’s College World Series.

Garcia, who was also the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, is the first UCLA and Pac-12 player to win the NFCA National Freshman of the Year award, which was first handed out in 2014.

After missing her true freshman year with an ACL injury, the 2015 Gatorade National Player of the Year starred for the Bruins in the circle and the batters box. She has a 22-7 record in 182-2/3 innings pitched with 196 strikeouts and 1.92 ERA. In her first postseason games, the Highland High alum pitched her first career no-hitter (against Lehigh in the Regional) and secured two wins in the Super Regional against Ole Miss, including an 11-inning, 232-pitch marathon. At the plate, Garcia has a .327 average with 27 RBIs and seven home runs.

“She was just the injured freshman and now she literally has led this team back to the World Series, the entire team,” UCLA head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said last weekend after UCLA’s Super Regional victory. “I’m very proud, but I’m not surprised because she has worked very hard. She has a strong work ethic and a strong will and the most important part is she’s a great team player; she gives her teammates all the credit. I think that’s what makes Rachel so special.”

Minnesota catcher Kendyl Lindaman and Oregon pitcher Maggie Balint joined Garcia as the top three finalists for the national freshman of the year award.

The Bruins play No. 13 LSU in the first round of the Women’s College World Series on Thursday in Oklahoma City.