May 25, 2002
OKLAHOMA CITY - The top-ranked Bruins survived their first elimination game of the Women's College World Series on Saturday, eliminating Oklahoma with a 2-0 victory. UCLA will continue in the losers bracket with a 6:30 pm scheduled first pitch against Arizona State. The game will be televised live on ESPN.
UCLA batted as the visiting team in the game, and nearly got on the board in the top of the first inning. Junior first baseman Tairia Mims stepped in to the box with two outs and sent Oklahoma centerfielder xxxx Evans to the fence to catch the final out of the inning, just a few feet shy of a home run.
The Sooners made offensive noise of their own in the bottom of the first. Bruin pitcher Keira Goerl struck lead-off hitter Christy Ring to open the bottom of the first inning before allowing a walk to Kelli Braitsch, who would steal second base, and a hit to Christina Enea. Braitsch tried to come around to score on Enea's hit, but was gunned down at the plate when UCLA centerfielder Amanda Freed threw a strike to catcher Stacey Nuveman, who tagged out Braitsch for the second out of the inning.
Unfortunately, Goerl would then follow with two straight walks to load the bases before a diving catch by Bruin second baseman Crissy Buck ended the inning before Oklahoma could score.
Nuveman would lead off the top of the second for the Bruins, and she would make the at-bat count. After working the count full against Sooner pitcher Jennifer Stewart, Nuveman took a 3-2 pitch over the fence to dead center field, giving UCLA the 1-0 lead. It was the 20th home run of the season for Nuveman, and the NCAA-record 90th of her illustrious UCLA career.
That 1-0 score would hold until the top of the fifth inning when left fielder Stephanie Ramos led off with a base hit through the left side of the Sooner infield. Amanda Simpson would come in to pinch-run, and advanced to third base on a hit-and-run with Toria Auelua at the plate, giving the Bruins runners at the corners with one out. Monique Mejia would then deliver with an RBI single to left to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
UCLA's defense, which had been suspect in the team's last four games, came up rock-solid in this game against Oklahoma. Not only were the Bruins error-free in the game, but the UCLA defense came up with two outstanding defensive plays during the late innings of the game. With two outs and a runner on first base in the bottom of the fifth inning, left fielder Ramos laid out for a spectacular inning-ending catch on a foul ball hit by Enea. In the bottom of the sixth, Jennifer Stump connected on what appeared to be an infield single before Bruin shortstop Natasha Watley made a spectacular diving stop, then got up on her knees to throw Stump out at first base, with Mims doing the splits on the catch. Goerl and the Bruins retired the final seven Oklahoma batters in order to get Goerl the win.
Goerl, who had just three strikeouts as opposed to six walks in the game, allowed just one Sooner hit en route to her 32nd victory of the 2002 season. That places Goerl third on UCLA's single-season victory list behind Courtney Dale's 33-1 season in 1999 and the 33-3 season posted by Lisa Fernandez in 1993.
The Bruins return to action at 6:30 pm on Saturday in another elimination game, this time against Pac-10 rival Arizona State. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.