UCLA advances to World Series

2018 NCAA Super Regional Softball Game Two Arizona vs UCLA at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Rick Gurrola / fi360 News)

Los Angeles, CA- An early deficit didn’t mean much to the Bruins in Game 2 of the Super Regionals.

Following a two-run bomb from Arizona Wildcat Alyssa Palomino, No. 3 UCLA took its time to dissect the No. 14 seed.

Three-straight one-run innings for the Bruins beginning from the top of the second to the top of the fourth allowed the designated visiting team to take a 3-2 lead on Friday.

The No. 3 UCLA Bruins (56-5) would advance to their fourth-consecutive Women’s College World Series after sweeping the No. 14 Arizona Wildcats (43-15), 7-1 and 3-2.

The Bruins stranded 11 total runners in an eight-hit performance while the Wildcats stranded four in a four-hit outing.

”That’s just the name of the game,” UCLA head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “It’s easy to watch and say to make the adjustments, but sometimes we can run-rule (an opponent) and sometimes we win by one.”

Despite not being able to convert the runs, there were plenty of chances created especially behind centerfielder Bubba Nickles’ 3-for-3 night (one BB and RBI).

“I usually just try to feed off my team,” Nickles said. “I like to focus on what they’re doing and do what I need to.”

While the Bruins were able to advance, the Wildcats were knocked out of the tournament.

Arizona first baseman Alyssa Palomino’s two-run bomb in the first was simply negated by just two hits in the following six innings.

“We did a lot of good things,” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. “Have to give credit where it’s due, Rachel (pitched) great.”

To the chagrin of the Wildcats, Rachel Garcia tossed 10 strikeouts in the effort and she was aided by a tough defensive effort from her team.

“Every at-bat I’d turn around and try to make eye contact with at least one of my teammates,” Garcia said. “I know they have my back and I’ll have theirs.”

UCLA will face the winner of the No. 11 LSU/No. 6 FSU Super Regionals in the first match of a four-team double-elimination bracket.

The other teams in that bracket would be the winners of No. 2 Florida/No. 15 Texas A&M and No. 7 Georgia/No. 10 Tennessee.

”I’m proud of my Bruins and how they’ve set their minds to being able to be in this position and get back to the World Series,” Inouye-Perez said. “I credit the seniors… they set the standard high and they’re excited to (have the opportunity) to be able to finish.”