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UCLA Bruin Bites: Carda! Carda! Carda!

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Our seventh-ranked UCLA softball team faced a crucial series against the third-place, #16 Arizona Wildcats this past weekend needing a series sweep to keep pace with the Oregon Ducks for the Pac-12 title. The Bruins called on Ally Carda in each of the games, and as usual, she delivered.

@DallasCharge

It was senior weekend at Easton Stadium for the seventh-ranked Bruins' crucial series with #16 Arizona this past weekend.

With UCLA trailing Oregon by a single game in the Pac-12 standings, the Bruins needed to keep winning to keep pace with the Ducks.

Game 1

Ally Carda started in the circle for the Bruins in the opening game of the series. After a scoreless first, Arizona got on the scoreboard first when Katiyana Mauga clubbed a home run to lead off the second. But the Bruins answered in the bottom half with a bases-loaded single by Delaney Spaulding to bring home two.

That was all that Carda would need. Through five innings, Carda allowed just one run on five hits while striking out seven. And a couple of those strikeouts got her out of bases loaded jams in the third,

and again in the fourth.

The Bruins put the Wildcats out of their misery in the bottom of the fifth with a seven run inning. Carda led off the inning with a single up the middle, and Stephany LaRosa followed with a blast to center, her 12th home run of the season.

A single by Mysha Sataraka, a walk by Maddy Jelenicki, and a pinch-hit double by Jelly Felix brought in another run. After Allexis Bennett reached base on an infield hit, Spaulding dropped a bases-loaded single into left to score UCLA's sixth run of the game. Kylee Perez then clubbed a double into the gap in left-center to drive in two more. Finally, after loading the bases again, the Bruins earned a mercy-rule win when Sataraka drew a walk to bring home UCLA's ninth run of the day.

UCLA's 9-1 win over the Wildcats extended the Bruins' winning streak to 11 games.

Delaney Spaulding and Stephany LaRosa led the Bruins with two hits apiece. Ally Carda earned her 23rd win of the season.

Game 2

Freshman Johanna Grauer started in the circle in game 2, but after surrendering three runs to Arizona in the opening frame, she was relieved by freshman Selina Ta'amilo in the second. Meanwhile, a Delaney Spaulding leadoff home run over the centerfield fence had closed the gap to 3-1.

Ta'amilo worked a solid second inning in relief of Grauer, but found herself in a jam in the third when she walked the first two Arizona batters. Carda was called upon to put out the fire, and she did exactly that, frustrating the Wildcats' attempt to add to their lead.

In the bottom of the third, the Bruins evened the score when Stephany LaRosa hammered a pitch off the scoreboard in left for her 13th home run of the season.

Third baseman Mysha Sataraka came up with a defensive gem in the fourth to help Ally Carda keep the Arizona bats quiet.

UCLA broke the 3-3 deadlock in the fifth. After Carda and LaRosa drew walks to open the inning, Maddy Jelenicki advanced the runners with a bunt, and Gabrielle Maurice slapped a single up the middle to score two.

The Bruins scored the inning's third run due to the wildness of Arizona pitcher Trish Parks. She loaded the bases by plunking two straight batters, and then issued a walk to Spaulding to force home the Bruins' sixth run of the afternoon.

Ally Carda pitched a scoreless seventh to seal the 6-3 win for the Bruins. Carda pitched five scoreless innings in relief to take her win total for the season to 24. In her five innings of work, Carda allowed just one hit and struck out seven.

Stephany LaRosa led UCLA batters with two hits, including her 13th home run of the season. Gracie Goulder contributed a pair of singles, and Delaney Spaulding crushed her 14th homer of the year.

The victory extended the UCLA winning streak to 12 games.

Game 3

Prior to the final game of the series, the Bruins honored the seniors on both teams.

The Bruins put four on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first for freshman pitcher Selina Ta'amilo. Stephany LaRosa smacked a bases-loaded single between short and third to drive home the first two runs, and a pair of errors and a passed ball brought home the other two runs.

UCLA added another run in the bottom of the second. Spaulding knocked her team-leading 15th homer of the season to left to give the Bruins a 5-0 lead.

Selina Ta'amilo ran into trouble in the third when she surrendered a two-run blast to Katiyana Mauga, Although she closed out the inning, her day was over after three innings. In her three innings of work, Ta'amilo allowed four hits and two runs, one of which was unearned.

UCLA scored another pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Singles by Brittany Moeai, Gracie Goulder, and Allexis Bennett loaded the bases. Ally Carda then drew a walk to push home the Bruins' sixth run, and another Wildcat error allowed UCLA to score its seventh run of the day.

Holding a 7-2 lead, the Bruins brought freshman Johanna Grauer in to pitch, but she faced three batters without getting an out before Ally Carda was called upon to relieve Grauer. However, Carda allowed a bases-loaded walk and a grand slam before getting out of the inning. Heading to the bottom of the fourth, the Wildcats had pulled even at 7-7.

The Bruins put the game away in the bottom half when they exploded for eight runs. The Wildcats helped out by committing three errors, but the Bruins hammered out seven hits, including a three-run homer by Ally Carda, her seventh of the season.

Carda had no trouble blanking the Wildcats in the fifth, giving UCLA its second mercy-rule win of the weekend and a sweep of the #16 Wildcats.

With the 15-7 victory, UCLA extended its winning streak to 13 games and earned its fourth straight series sweep.

Ally Carda worked two innings in relief to earn the win, her third of the weekend. She improves to 25-4 this year, and for the fourth time this season, she was named the Pac-12's Pitcher of the Week.

Several Bruins enjoyed a multi-hit game on Sunday. Gracie Goulder, Gabrielle Maurice, and Maddy Jelenicki each tallied two hits, Stephany LaRosa collected three hits, and Allexis Bennett was a perfect 4 for 4. Carda totaled four RBI to lead the Bruins.

The Bruins return to action on Thursday when they travel to Tempe for a three-game series against the fifth-place Arizona State Sun Devils. The Bruins still trail the first-place Oregon Ducks by a single game in the Pac-12 standings.

The student-athletes representing our softball team aren't just excelling on the field, though. Six softball players were honored for their achievements in the classroom.

On a related note, Grady Howe (men's soccer) and Kaitlin Ray (women's tennis) were honored as the UCLA 2014-15 Scholar-Athletes of the Year.

Congratulations Grady and Kaitlin!

Those are your Bruins Bites for the week. With both of our tennis teams as well as our women's water polo team playing in first round NCAA tournament contests this week, Bruins Nation will have coverage of the action starting on Friday.

Go BRUINS!