‘That sucked’: Top-ranked UCLA softball blown out by Oklahoma in revenge game
With a subtle shrug, Kelly Inouye-Perez summed it up the best she could.
“Well,” the UCLA softball coach said after the top-ranked Bruins lost 14-0 to Oklahoma, “that sucked.”
There wasn’t much else to add after the marquee matchup at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic turned into a laugher.
The Bruins (17-1) mustered only three hits Sunday while the No. 2 Sooners (13-1) racked up six homers among 20 hits to hand UCLA its second consecutive mercy rule shutout loss in the head-to-head series. Last June, Oklahoma defeated the Bruins 15-0 in the semifinals of the Women’s College World Series to end their season. UCLA has lost four of its last five games against the two-time defending national champion Sooners.
UCLA softball lost some of its best players from last year, but Maya Brady and the Bruins hope to make another NCAA title run in 2023.
The teams were ranked first and second in the preseason, and UCLA, which racked up three wins against ranked teams during the Clearwater Invitational two weeks ago, jumped into the top spot when Oklahoma lost to Baylor on Feb. 19.
UCLA tallied three more ranked wins during the Mary Nutter Classic, highlighted by Megan Faraimo’s five-inning no-hitter against No. 3 Florida on Thursday, which built the anticipation for Sunday’s tournament finale. MLB Network planned to broadcast the game on tape delay, making it the first college softball game on the network. It drew a packed crowd that stood a dozen rows deep on both foul lines and around the outfield.
But it didn’t take long for the UCLA fans along the third-base line to fall silent.
Oklahoma chased Faraimo in the second inning, tagging her for four runs, all scored on homers, and eight hits in 1 2/3 innings. The fifth-year senior gave up every hit with two outs and two strikes.
Charisma Osborne scored 11 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter as No. 17 UCLA pulled off a comeback win over Washington in its regular-season finale.
“You try to expand the zone and these hitters are so good and they’re still getting their barrel on it,” Faraimo said. “So I think for me, it’s a lot about movement, throwing timing off. … But with the two outs, I gotta finish strong.”
Faraimo worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning but gave up a solo homer to No. 9 hitter Alyssa Brito to start a streak of seven Oklahoma runners to reach base. Tiare Jennings knocked Faraimo out of the game with a two-run homer. Faraimo has given up 17 hits and 11 earned runs in her last three appearances against the Sooners, which includes two games during last year’s World Series.
After Faraimo, Lauren Shaw gave up five hits and four runs in two-thirds of an inning before freshman Taylor Tinsley, who threw a complete game in a 3-0 win against Texas A&M on Saturday night, finished the game. Tinsley surrendered eight hits and five earned runs.
“I intentionally threw Megan because I wanted her to be able to learn it now before it was at the end,” Inouye-Perez said. “When Megan gets hit, that puts us in a position [that] we haven’t experienced yet.”
While putting USC in position for its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2014, coach Lindsay Gottlieb is also adjusting to life as a mother of two.
In a charmed start to the season, UCLA took down six ranked teams in its first 17 games. Battling a hectic opening schedule that featured 18 games in 18 days, freshmen such as Megan Grant and Jordan Woolery delivered timely hitting and entered Sunday’s game with 21 and 17 RBIs, respectively. Senior Maya Brady carried a 10-game hitting streak into the top-ranked matchup.
Yet against Oklahoma starter Alex Storako, the three hot-hitting Bruins combined for one hit in six at-bats as Grant singled in the first inning.
“It’s early,” Brady said. “It’s February. They’re obviously a great team, but [it’s] early, a lot of year left and it’s not what happens, but it’s what you do next, and I know this team is going to come out tougher than ever.”
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