UCLA’s season ends in Women’s College World Series semifinal loss to Oklahoma
UCLA delayed but couldn’t deny the inevitable.
As expected, Oklahoma will play for its second consecutive national championship.
No. 5 UCLA stunned the top-ranked Sooners in the first game of the Women’s College World Series semifinals Monday with a 7-3 win at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, but Oklahoma snapped back into form with a dominant 15-0, five-inning victory in the winter-takes-all Game 2.
UCLA’s excitement of extending its season dissipated when Oklahoma scored six runs in the first two innings of Game 2. Sooner fans 20 miles away from the school’s Norman campus chanted “we’re not done yet” as Oklahoma strung five singles and a walk in the fifth inning. They burst into cheers after a grand slam from Jocelyn Alo pushed the lead to 15, the second-most ever allowed by UCLA.
UCLA catcher Delanie Wisz has been on a tear at the WCWS while wearing new catcher’s gear from Easton that is inspired by her family and faith.
Watching the painful end to their otherwise successful season, the Bruins (51-10) remained true to their fun-loving nature. They continued to encourage pitcher Lauren Shaw. They stole short moments to dance. And before walking off the field, they joined their fans — a blue island in a sea of crimson and cream — for a final eight-clap, their last word on the sport’s biggest annual stage.
“It just kind of shows that we were a force to be reckoned with the whole time,” said center fielder Maya Brady, who hit two home runs during the first game. “That maybe we didn’t get the respect that we deserved, and I think that for us to come out and throw a punch against a team like that just shows that UCLA softball is still in the running and still deserves to be talked about.”
Just pushing the defending champions to an elimination game could be seen as an impressive feat for the Bruins. It was Oklahoma’s second loss by four or more runs in the last two seasons. The Sooners (57-3) responded with their 40th run-rule victory of the season and handing UCLA its largest margin of defeat in school history.
Oklahoma showed why it could be having the sport’s best season. Not only does it have nearly the same offensive numbers as last year’s record-setting team that won the national championship, but the Sooners also boast the nation’s best ERA.
As Alo increased her NCAA-best home run mark to 120 Monday with two homers in Game 2, pitcher Hope Trautwein, a transfer from North Texas, shut down the Bruins in Game 2 in a two-hit, six-strikeout performance.
Saving their ace in case of a Game 2, Oklahoma offered sophomore Nicole May and freshman Jordy Bahl in the first game. The Bruins jumped on the young pitchers with three homers to force the decisive rematch that took place 30 minutes later.
“We made a statement in the first game,” said third baseman Delanie Wisz, who hit a two-run home run in the first inning to announce UCLA’s arrival in the semifinal. “And that’s what we came here to do: to make a statement.”
Holly Azevedo’s two-hit shutout on Sunday secured No. 5 UCLA’s spot in the national semifinal with an 8-0, six-inning victory against No. 14 Florida.
Wisz and Brady, who each drove in a career-high five RBIs, led the offense while Megan Faraimo and Holly Azevedo kept the high-powered Sooners off balance. The pitchers limited the team that entered Monday’s semifinal with an NCAA-leading 9.22 runs per game to three in Game 1.
The Sooners matched that in the first inning of Game 2.
After Azevedo pitched three innings of hitless relief in Game 1, she gave up a leadoff walk to Jayda Coleman, a double to Alo and watched a misplaced fastball soar over the fence off Tiare Jennings’ bat before UCLA recorded an out in Game 2.
Oklahoma lit up the scoreboard with an eight-run fifth inning, activating the eight-run mercy rule. Despite the lopsided score, the Bruins stuck to their fun-loving nature.
One player said all they had to do was score 16 runs. “We scored 16 off of them before,” she said, referring to UCLA’s 16-3 win against Oklahoma in the 2019 World Series.
The positive, forward-thinking language is the type of statement UCLA wanted to remember from their seventh consecutive appearance at the World Series.
“We don’t quit,” coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “That’s the DNA of UCLA softball.”
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