UCLA softball players celebrate their 1-0 win over Ole Miss that sent them to the Women’s College World Series. (Photo by Katie Meyers)
UCLA plowed its way through the playoffs to the Super Regional on Friday with the long ball. But when the Bruins needed one win to earn their third straight Women’s College World Series berth, they did it the old-fashioned way: with pitching and defense.
No. 5 UCLA beat No. 12 Mississippi on Friday 1-0 thanks to a strong combined pitching effort from Selina Ta’amilo and Rachel Garcia and team defense.
READ: UCLA heads to Oklahoma City
“We’re hitting all cylinders and it’s a big part of what has made UCLA softball the program that we are,” head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “It’s based on the ability for us to have pitching. It all starts in the circle. Defense wins championships.”
Madeline Jelenicki’s two-out RBI single in the first inning was all the scoring UCLA needed as Ta’amilo started in the circle and pitched three innings while giving up three hits. Garcia entered in relief and tossed four hitless innings to earn the win.
The Bruins are the first team to punch their ticket to Oklahoma City this year and will play the winner of the Tallahassee Super Regional between LSU and Florida State in the World Series, which begins June 1.
John Savage sat in front of the press late Saturday night and insisted that Cal State Fullerton, the team whose season he’d just ended, was still the best in the country.
“People may not believe me,” the UCLA coach allowed.
Savage had paid the Titans the same compliment before sweeping them in two games — putting the Bruins in the College World Series for the third time in four years. CSUF had entered the weekend with a top-five ERA, top-25 fielding percentage and top-50 home run total. It had lost back-to-back games only once all season, and never dropped a series.
Since the Super Regional format was added in 1999, no team has reached the College World Series more times than Fullerton’s seven. Now the Titans have missed four straight, their longest drought since they first went to Omaha in 1975.
In that same timeframe, only 14 teams had reached Omaha in back-to-back seasons. With 5-3 and 3-0 wins, UCLA became the 15th. Continue reading “Third Omaha trip in four years solidifies UCLA’s powerhouse status” »