#10 UCLA Softball (41-13, 15-8)
Opponent: #22 Arizona State (30-19, 9-14)
When: 2:00 PM PT, Saturday, May 13, 2017
Where: Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium. Tempe, AZ
Video: Pac-12 Network
Live Stats: Arizona State StatBroadcast
UCLA scored in every inning but the second. The Bruins put one run on the scoreboard in the first as Coach Inouye-Perez opted to play small ball. Singles by Delaney Spaulding and Kylee Perez put runners at first and second with no outs. Brianna Tautalafua, one of UCLA's top power hitters, then bunted the runners along, and Spaulding scored one batter later when Madeline Jelenicki hit a sacrifice fly to left.
UCLA added two more runs in the third. A single by Zoe Shaw and a double by Spaulding put runners at second and third, and one out later, Tautalafua knocked them both in with a single to left.
After pitching two scoreless innings to start the contest, Selina Ta'amilo ran into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the third. After conceding a two-out solo home run and a base on balls, Ta'amilo was replaced in the circle by Johanna Grauer. Grauer retired the following batter to give UCLA a 3-1 lead at the end of three.
The Bruins doubled their run total in the fourth. A Bubba Nickles single, a double by Shaw, and a three-run homer by Spaulding gave Grauer a five-run cushion at the game's midpoint.
UCLA added one more run in the fifth when Nickles clubbed her tenth home run of 2017. Another two runs came home in the sixth on singles by Shaw, Spaulding, Perez, and Jelenicki. UCLA 9, ASU 1.
Grauer gave up a pair of runs in the bottom half to keep the mercy rule from being invoked. ASU used a solo home run, a walk and two singles to trim UCLA's lead to six runs with an inning left to play.
For good measure, the Bruins put another four runs on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh. A single by Nickles was wasted when Paige Halstead lined into a double play, but Shaw followed with a walk, Spaulding cracked her fifth hit of the day--a single through the right side of the infield--and Perez got aboard on an error to add another run to UCLA's total. Then Tautalafua belted her 13th homer of the season for three more runs, and UCLA's lead was suddenly ten.
ASU didn't go down quietly in the bottom of the seventh, but Grauer kept the Sun Devils in check to seal a 13-3 win.
Johanna Grauer picked up her 11th win of the season with four and a third innings of five-hit relief. It was far from her best outing of 2017, but she got the job done.
There were a handful of big performances at the plate. Delaney Spaulding had five hits, five runs scored and three RBI. Brianna Tautalafua had five RBI to go along with her three hits, and Zoe Shaw and Bubba Nickles each tallied three hits.
Highlights of the Bruins' 13-3 win are courtesy of the Pac-12 Networks:
Spaulding's five hit performance made her the subject of the postgame interview:
Last night's victory secured UCLA's fourth straight series win. It also the Bruins to inch into a third place tie with the Huskies in the Pac-12 standings, a full game ahead of fifth-place Utah. With a win over Stanford yesterday, Oregon has a lock on second place, but UCLA could still claim sole possession of third place with a win today and a Washington loss to the Utes.
In a certain sense, though, that's not particularly important now. The Bruins want to earn the best possible seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament and there's only one way to do that: keep winning.
The Bruins' confidence is sky-high right now. After a slow start to the Pac-12 campaign that saw UCLA compile a 5-7 record in the first half of the conference season, the Bruins have lost just once in 11 Pac-12 outings since then. A win today in the final game of the regular season will help ready the Bruins for another run to the Women's College World Series.