LOS ANGELES - 2014 USA Softball Player of the Year finalist Ally Carda had three hits and drew two walks in a pair of games on Sunday at the Los Angeles Super Regional, but #14-seed Kentucky posted 7-3 and 7-1 victories to end #3 UCLA’s season.
The Bruins conclude their year with a 52-8 record, the most wins for the program since 2003. Kentucky improved to 49-17 to advance to its first Women’s College World Series.
In game one on Sunday, the Bruins had five hits, as freshman Delaney Spaulding recorded a pair with two RBI. All three UCLA pitchers saw time in the circle. Carda started, but was only able to get through a third of an inning. Senior Jessica Hall struck out three in 3 1/3 innings, while sophomore Paige McDuffee tossed 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
UCLA, playing as the visiting team, struck first in the opener. With one out, Spaulding bunted for a single, and one out later, sophomore Mysha Sataraka drew a walk. Freshman Gabrielle Maurice followed with a single through the right side to plate Spaulding with the game’s first run.
Kentucky came back with five in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Nikki Sagermann, a two-run single by Lauren Cumbess and a two-run double by Krystal Smith to go up 5-1.
The Bruins closed the gap with a pair in the second. Senior Alyssa Tiumalu led off with a double to left-center and junior Gracie Goulder walked. Sophomore Allexis Bennett followed with a tapper to third, as Tiumalu was forced for the first out. One out later, Spaulding doubled to the wall in right-center to score Goulder and Bennett to make it 5-3.
The Wildcats would get both runs back though in the third on a Smith sacrifice fly and an Emily Jolly RBI single to go ahead 7-3. Kentucky would hold UCLA at bay for the final five innings to force the if necessary game three.
In that contest, McDuffee and Carda split the seven innings of work, as McDuffee started and allowed two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Carda tossed 3 2/3 frames of relief and fanned three with three earned runs allowed. Carda also added two hits at the plate, as UCLA had six as a team.
Kentucky scored the game’s first run in the top of the third, when Ginny Carroll scored on an error by Spaulding at short with Sylver Samuel at the plate.
The Bruins equaled things up in the bottom half of the inning. Goulder and Bennett had back-to-back singles to open the frame, as Goulder took third on a Kentucky overthrow to put runners at the corners. A Carda single to left plated Goulder to make it 1-1. UCLA would eventually load the bases with one out, but Kentucky got out of the inning limiting the damage by inducing Sataraka into a double play.
Kentucky rallied back with three in the fourth on an RBI double by Smith and a two-run single from Carroll, tacking on three more runs in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk for Sagermann and a two-run single by Griffin Joiner to go up 7-1, which proved to be the final score.