It’s time for the softball postseason! That can only mean one thing: UCLA head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez will over-manage the Bruins. Inouye-Perez was already in mid-postseason form against Arizona last weekend and she was at it again last night.
Rachel Garcia had amazing stuff last night. She had faced the minimum of 18 batters through the first six innings last night. At one point, she struck out eight batters in a row over the course of three innings. She struck out the side in the sixth and was just three outs away from tossing a perfect game.
So, what did Inouye-Perez do?
Why, she brought in Holly Azevedo to pitch the ninth inning, of course! Now, this isn’t a knock on Azevedo. She came in and did what was asked of her. She got three outs in the seventh including the final two with swinging strikeouts.
But, why would Inouye-Perez lift Garcia from a game in which she had been perfect through six? It was a night game and Garcia had only thrown 70 pitches. So, unless Garcia was injured, there was absolutely no reason not to let her finish what she started.
It’s not like there were runners on or anything. When Azevedo came into the game, it was the start of the inning.
But Kelly Inouye-Perez took Garcia out anyway. It’s just another example of over-managing from her that we’ve seen over the years.
Bubba Nickles got the Bruins’ offense kicked off nicely with a lead-off double in the bottom of the first. Briana Perez laid down a bunt for a single and Nickles was able to score on a throwing error by Wildcats catcher Lauren Hoe. That would prove to be the game-winning run, but UCLA wasn’t done yet.
Perez stole second and moved over to third on a grounder by Aaliyah Jordan. Garcia then helped her own cause by adding an insurance run on a sacrifice fly which scored Perez, giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
UCLA added another crooked number in the sixth. Colleen Sullivan led off the inning with a pinch-hit single up the middle and, in another example of overmanaging by Inouye-Perez, Zoe Shaw then pinch-ran for Sullivan. Shaw scored when Kinsley Washington followed with a triple to center. Kelly Godin brought Washington in with a single and Nickles doubled which scored Godin. Nickles scored the Bruins’ final run of the game on a single up the middle by Perez. That gave the Bruins a 6-0 lead, which meant that it wasn’t a save situation when Garcia was lifted for Azevedo in the seventh.
This afternoon, UCLA will face the Missouri Tigers. The Bruins beat the Tigers, 11-3, in a mercy-rule shortened six inning game back on February 22 as part of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. So, another Bruins win should be expected this afternoon.
The loser of today’s first game will play the winner of today’s elimination game between Weber State and Cal State Fullerton at 8 pm PT tonight while the winner of today’s first game won’t play again until tomorrow, assuming the predicted rain doesn’t force a postponement.
This is your NCAA Los Angeles Regional Day Two open thread.