It's been an eventful week for UCLA's non-revenue sports teams that still had NCAA action to play for. But, in the end, it looks like a long-shot for the Bruins to claim #112 by the end of this academic year. Remember the years where winning a couple of national titles was a "down" year? Remember how grand things were before Dan Guerrero took over and our athletic department took a national title nose-dive? With Stanford and Southern Cal fast approaching, Chianti Dan's strategy has us on pace to be "First to 100" and "Last to 200."
But we'll cross our fingers and hope the Bruins can pull one more out in spite of our clueless, bumbling "I need to raise more money for a basketball-only facility that I never thought to include in the renovation of Pauley Pavilion" athletic director. Here's your various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
--- Beginning with our #2-ranked and #3-seeded softball team, who went into Sunday needing just a single win to put themselves back in the Women's College World Series, after pulling out a come-from-behind win over the #14-seeded Kentucky Wildcats in Game 1 on Saturday. With the odds stacked in their favor (Game 1 victors go on to make it to the WCWS approximately 85% of the time), the Lady Bruins had to feel confident that they could pick up either Game 2 or Game 3 on Sunday, especially with Pac-12 Player of the Year Ally Carda leading them. But despite the home-field advantage, the statistical expectation of victory, the Bruins choked in the clutch, losing both games to the Wildcats, 7-3 and 7-1, making them the first UCLA softball team to fail to make the WCWS. Beginning with Game 2, the Bruins fell 7-3, and never really were in the game. Pac-12 Player of the Year Ally Carda (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. With the Sunday sweep, the Lady Bruins finish the year out of the WCWS with a record pf 52-8 overall.
--- Turning to our #20-ranked men's golf team, the Bruins have put together an improbable run of results over the first three rounds at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas at the NCAA Men's Division I Golf Championship, to finish sixth overall (844, +4) and earn a spot in the final match-play bracket of eight teams. The Bruins finished behind Georgia Tech (841, +1), with one of the tourney favorites, Stanford finishing on top of the leaderboard (827, -13) to grab top spot in the match-play bracket. The Bruins will take on LSU in the quarterfinals in the match-play bracket, with tee-time at 7 a.m. PST, with the Golf Channel covering the event beginning at noon PST. Let's hope UCLA can keep it up and pull off a shocker at Prairie Dunes.
--- Finally, while our men's tennis team came up painfully short in the NCAA semi-final against Oklahoma, Marcos Giron advanced to the individual singles national championship match on Monday, against a familiar foe - Pepperdine's Alex Sarkissian. The two faced off earlier, back in February in Westwood, with Giron dropping the Pepperdine man, 6-2, 6-3. With revenge in mind, Sarkissian looked to drop Giron and return to Malibu with the men's individual NCAA championship, but Giron was too good - winning 6-4, 6-1. With the win, Giron becomes the 11th Bruin to win the NCAA singles individual championship.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites tracking NCAA tournament action as our Bruins are in the hunt on the golf course for Westwood's 112th NCAA national championship banner. Fire away in the comment section with your thoughts, additions, or other bits of news from around the UCLA-iverse.