May 26, 2003
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Oklahoma City, OK - Toria Auelua's ninth-inning RBI single and Keira Goerl's second no-hitter of the season paired to power UCLA to its ninth NCAA Softball Championship on Monday afternoon at Don E. Porter Hall of Fame Stadium, as the Bruins defeated California 1-0 in the National Championship Game.
UCLA got its first hit of the game when Caitlin Benyi stepped to the plate with one out in the top of the first inning. The Bruins were unable to push a run across, and the scoreless game continued into the bottom of the first inning.
Keira Goerl issued two walks in the bottom of the first inning, as Courtney Scott drew a two-out walk and the Bruins issued an intentional walk to Veronica Nelson. It would be the only time in the game that the Golden Bears would have more than one runner on base in an inning.
UCLA opened the third inning with a two-out triple by Natasha Watley, followed by a walk issued to Benyi, but the Bruins were unable to capitalize.
Meanwhile, Goerl was retiring eight straight batters until she came back around to Nelson, who would be intentionally walked three times in the game. Nelson was issued her second intentional walk of the game in the fourth inning and was replaced by pinch-runner LeAnna Hoglen. Holgen did not advance, as Haley Woods struck out and Kaleo Eldredge grounded out to end the inning.
UCLA's next base runner came in the sixth inning when Cal intentionally walked Tairia Mims with two outs and nobody on. UCLA had another hit in the top of the seventh as Toria Auelua singled to right field with two outs. She was replaced by pinch-runner Amanda Simpson, but Simpson was unable to advance as Monique Mejia grounded out to end the inning.
The bottom of the seventh inning started with UCLA issuing the third intentional walk of the game to Veronica Nelson. Nelson was replaced by pinch-runner Linzi Westcott, ending Nelson's participation in the game.
Westcott advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Haley Woods. UCLA freshman catcher Emily Zaplatosch nearly caught the bunt on the fly, but instead was able to field the ball and make the throw to first base from her knees for the first out of the inning. Goerl took over from there, striking out Eldredge and getting Chelsea Spencer to ground out to end the inning.
In the top of the eighth, Natasha Watley posted a one-out single, and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Caitlin Benyi. After an intentional walk to Mims, Claire Sua grounded out to end the inning and the Bruin threat.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Vicky Galindo reached on a two-base error by Keira Goerl, but was unable to advance as Lindsay James grounded out to Goerl to end the inning and the California threat.
UCLA started with the five spot in the lineup in the bottom of the ninth inning. Junior centerfielder Stephanie Ramos led off with a double to left center that hit the outfield wall. She advanced to third on a perfectly excecuted sacrifice bunt by Zaplatosch, and came home on a slow-moving single through the left side of the infield by Toria Auelua. That was all the offense the Bruins would need to bring home their 10th National Championship.
In the bottom of the ninth, Goerl retired Courtney Scott on a ground-out to Tairia Mims a third base. Nelson would have been the second batter of the inning, but was unable to hit because she had already been replaced in the lineup twice. That brought Mikella Pedretti to the plate, and she grounded out to Natasha Watley for the second out of the inning. Haley Woods then popped out on a ball caught by Stephanie Ramos as she stood on the logo in shallow center field, sealing the title for the Bruins.
This championship is the ninth NCAA title for UCLA's softball program and its 10th National Championship, including a 1978 AIAW title.
Three Bruins were named to the All-Tournament team, including third baseman Tairia Mims, senior shortstop Natasha Watley and Most Outstanding Player Keira Goerl. Goerl pitched all 47 innings for UCLA in Oklahoma City this year, striking out 44 and allowing just four earned runs, and only one in UCLA's five elimination games. Goerl had a 0.60 ERA for the Women's College World Series, and set a new UCLA career victories record.