May 11, 2002
LOS ANGELES - The top-ranked UCLA softball team (50-6, 18-3 Pac-10) swept Arizona State today in its final regular season contests, wrapping up the 2002 Pac-10 Conference Championship, and solidifying its bid for the top seed in the NCAA Championship. NCAA selection will be announced on Sunday, May 12, at 6 pm Pacific Time, and will be broadcast live on ESPNEWS.
UCLA took the opening game of the twinbill by a 4-1 margin, and came back in the nightcap to win 6-1. UCLA clinched sole possession of the Pac-10 title between games, as UCLA?s game one victory coupled with Arizona?s game one loss at Washington sealed the Championship for the Bruins.
UCLA?s five seniors, Crissy Buck, Amanda Freed, Casey Hiraiwa, Stacey Nuveman and Erin Rahn, were honored in a ceremony prior to the start of the doubleheader. Freed then took to the circle and earned her 20th victory of the season and 96th of her UCLA career, tying her with B?Ann Burns for the school record for wins in a career.
The Bruins opened the offense in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Tairia Mims. In the third, Mims added another run, hitting her 11th home run of the season from the lead-off spot in the third inning. Stephanie Ramos answered later in the frame with a two-run shot of her own, giving UCLA a 4-0 lead after three complete.
ASU posted a run of its own in the fourth on an RBI single by Erin Wardein, but it was not enough, as UCLA took the opening game of the doubleheader by a 4-1 margin.
Game two had a rocky start for the Sun Devils, as UCLA loaded the bases on a walk to Natasha Watley, a single by Amanda Freed, and an intentional walk to Stacey Nuveman, bringing Claire Sua to the plate. Sua delivered, hitting her third career first-inning grand slam at Easton Stadium, giving the Bruins a 4-0 lead after one inning.
In the sixth, UCLA added two more runs on a rally started by senior Casey Hiraiwa, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the top of the third inning. Hiraiwa put a line drive into right field as the lead-off hitter in the inning, and would eventually score on an RBI single by Monique Mejia. Freed?s sacrifice fly gave UCLA its final run and a 6-0 lead. The Sun Devils did add a run in the seventh, but pitcher Keira Goerl earned her 28th victory of the season, striking out five on the day.
UCLA?s path through the NCAA Championship will be laid out on Sunday evening, as the NCAA Softball Championship Committee will announce its sites and pairings for the 2002 NCAA Division I Championship on Sunday, May 12, at 6 pm Pacific Time. The Bruins have bid to host a regional, which would take place at Easton Stadium this Thursday-Sunday, May 16-19. The selection show will be broadcast live on ESPNEWS.