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UCLA Softball Cruises Past James Madison, 6-1, Behind Garcia’s Arm and Bat

Rachel Garcia’s pitching and hitting powered the Bruins past the Dukes last night in Game 1 of the NCAA Los Angeles Regional.

Rachel Garcia
Rachel Garcia allowed just one run over seven innings last night, but the Bruins really won the game because of her bat. Garcia hit a three-run homer, which was the game-winner last night, and she had four RBIs.

Rachel Garcia was in the circle last night for the Bruins where she picked up her 24th win of the season while giving up just one run, two hits and two walks over seven innings. She struck out 12 as UCLA cruised to a 6-1 victory over the James Madison Dukes.

This evening, the Bruins will play game two of the Los Angeles Super Regional against the Dukes at 5 pm PT and the game will air on ESPN.

Things started out just fine last night for UCLA as Garcia struck out the first batter she faced, but then Kate Gordon came to the plate for JMU and homered over the wall in left center to give the Dukes a 1-0 lead.

The Bruins came back with a big third inning to take the lead for good. Kinsley Washington led off the inning with a double down the left field line. Kelli Godin tried bunting her over to third, but she popped it up and the catcher for James Madison caught it for the first out of the inning. Washington did move over to third on a wild pitch to Bubba Nickles, who ended up striking out for the second out. Briana Perez was able to reach on an error and Washington scored on the play to tie the game, 1-1. A walk to Aaliyah Jordan gave the Bruins runners on first and second for Garcia, who smashed a three-run homer to right center and UCLA had a 4-1 lead after three.

The Bruins added a pair of insurance runs in the fourth. Washington drew a one-out walk and Godin laid down a bunt for a hit to give UCLA a pair of baserunners. Nickles drew UCLA’s second walk of the inning to load the bases for Perez. Perez also drew a walk, which scored Washington. That gave the Bruins a 5-1 lead and it chased JMU starter Megan Good.

Jordan hit an infield fly for the second out of the inning and that brought Garcia back to the plate. She helped her cause for the second time in two innings with a single through the left side which scored Godin, but Bubba Nickles also tried to score on the play and she was thrown out at home for the final out.

After that inning, Garcia only allowed one baserunner in the final three innings and she retired the final seven batters for the Dukes.

In the end, this one wasn’t even close and, frankly, I was a little surprised that the Bruins were able to tack on three runs in the fifth or sixth inning to end the game early by mercy rule.

So, I won’t be surprised tonight if UCLA is able to shorten the game with a mercy-rule win.

Something else to keep in mind is that tonight’s game could be the Bruins’ final tune-up before heading to Oklahoma City. That, of course, raises the question as to whether Kelly Inouye-Perez will give freshman Megan Faraimo the start tonight or if she will stick with Garcia. Given her penchant for over-managing in situations like this, I’d have to expect that Garcia gets the start, even though, she should go with Faraimo to get her some real postseason experience after last week’s debacle where Inouye-Perez pulled her after just two batters.

As a reminder, NCAA rules dictate that the designated home team flips for Game 2. So, the Bruins will bat first as the designated visiting team and James Madison will be the designated home team even though the game is being played in Westwood.

This is your UCLA vs. James Madison NCAA Los Angeles Super Regional Game 2 open thread.

Go Bruins!!!