Yet another UCLA squad bit the dust yesterday, as our #3-seeded softball team took after their baseball counterparts and choked hard in the clutch, dropping both games to #14-seeded Kentucky on Sunday, after opening with a big win in Game 1 on Saturday. How bad was the choke job? In women's college softball best-of-three Super Regional series, the winner of Game 1 has advanced to the Women's College World Series approximately 85% of the time. So fair to say, going into Sunday, the odds were in the Lady Bruins' favor. And they failed to deliver.
Beginning with Game 2, the Bruins fell 7-3, and never really were in the game. Pac-12 Player of the Year Ally Card (0.1 IP, 4 ER, 0 K, 1 BB) got smoked out of the circle, with the Wildcats running her out of the game after just one-third of an inning. Delaney Spaulding (2-4, 1 R, 2 RBI) was one of the few bright spots for a UCLA squad that could only generate five hits the entire game. On the opposite side, Kentucky's iron woman, Kelsey Nunley (7.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 K, 3 BB) did just enough to pick up a win after Carda imploded. Game 3 was even worse, as it looked like UCLA didn't even bother showing up, losing 7-1. Paige McDuffee (3.1 IP, 2 ER, 0 K, 1 BB) took the circle to start and had a decent start before Kentucky started getting hits in the top of the fourth. Carda (3.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 K, 1 BB) came in to try to stem the bleeding, but it only got worse, as the Wildcats drove three cushion runs in off her in the top of the seventh. Not that it would matter, as UCLA's insipid offense did little-to-nothing, with Carda (2-2, 1 RBI) bringing in UCLA's only run.
Kentucky came into Sunday down one game and looking like the team on the way home; after a combined 14-4 beat down of the Bruins, they're now on their way to the Women's College World Series. Pretty embarrassing way to end the season for Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez and a UCLA program that once dominated the sport and won national titles with ease.
Turning to today, our #18-seeded men's golf team finds itself in eighth place (563, +3) after two rounds, just one stroke ahead of South Carolina (564, +4) and three strokes back from the two teams tied for sixth, Oklahoma and SMU (both at 560, even par). The Bruins will tee off at 11:40 a.m. PST in Hutchinson, Kansas, assuming the weather cooperates and will look to hold on to their spot and be the final team to advance to the match-play bracket, where anything could happen and UCLA might have a shot (especially with the unpredictable weather). You can track the men's golf action on the live leaderboard here.
Finally, turning to individual national championships, UCLA's men's tennis player Marcos Giron has advanced through the individual field to make it to the NCAA singles individual national championship against Pepperdine's Alex Sarkissian. The two met up previously this year, back in late February in Westwood, with Giron besting Sarkissian, 6-2, 6-3. Giron will hope to repeat that result and return to Westwood with a trophy, which will be a small consolation prize for the program that came up just short, losing to Oklahoma in the NCAA semi-final. The match set to get underway at 9 a.m. PST. You can watch Giron go for an individual NCAA national title this morning through the NCAA's official online broadcast here.
It's unlikely we'll see UCLA's 112th national championship through the men's golf team, but let's keep our fingers crossed that they can hold on, take eighth, and then make a run in match play when it counts the most. This is your NCAA tournament open thread, so fire away with your thoughts, takes, and analysis as our guys keep pushing for another Bruin national title.