UA softball falls in WCWS semifinals, moves within loss of elimination
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Rachel Garcia felt it was a matter of time before she got the run support she needed.
UCLA came through.
The Bruins scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning, and Garcia avenged her only loss of the season to help UCLA beat Pac-12 rival Arizona 6-2 in the Women’s College World Series on Friday night.
“I mean, I think we were getting on it all game,” Garcia said. “But I think we just didn’t have our moment till that last inning. I mean, like I said, we were swinging at balls, but they were going right to people. Started making a little bit more of an adjustment, hitting it to the gaps, coming up huge in moments that were needed.”
The Bruins (53-6) advanced to the semifinals Sunday. They need one more win to reach the championship series.
Garcia was 20-0 this season before losing to Arizona on May 9 in Los Angeles. This time, she threw a complete game and allowed just four hits. She also threw every pitch for UCLA in the Bruins’ victory over Minnesota on Thursday.
Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza had two solo homers for Arizona (48-13).
There was plenty of history in Friday’s matchup. UCLA and Arizona are first and second in national championships and World Series appearances. UCLA has 12 national titles and 29 World Series appearances and Arizona has eight national titles and 23 World Series appearances.
UCLA opened the scoring in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Garcia. Palomino-Cardoza tied the game with a solo blast to right field.
UCLA pinch-hitter Malia Quarles’ solo homer put the Bruins up 2-1.
“I didn’t swing at the two previous pitches,” Quarles said. “I’m not striking out, I’m going to hit there. I saw the pitch, I’m swinging as hard as I can. I just swung. It felt pretty good.”
In the sixth, Arizona had two on with no outs and runners at second and third with one out, but Garcia escaped.
UCLA’s Aaliyah Jordan’s double scored Briana Perez in the seventh to push the Bruins’ lead to 3-1. UCLA then took advantage of Arizona’s fielding mistakes to go up 6-1. An error on left fielder Carli Campbell scored two. Campbell had made a dynamic diving catch in the fourth inning.
“I was very pleased with the team, I thought for six innings,” Arizona coach Mike Candrea said. “Too bad we’re not a little league team, only play six. The seventh inning just really got a little bit out of hand.”
Arizona will play Florida or Alabama in an elimination game Saturday night.
“Right now we’re just going to kind of get over it as quick as we can and realize that we still have games to play,” Candrea said. “I think that’s the big thing right now. I’m not one that lives in the past. I’m going to get over this one really quick, start getting them ready for tomorrow, whoever we play.”