For the third time in the past two weeks, Long Beach State softball (30-9, 22-2 Big West) fell to the UCLA Bruins (41-4, 19-2 conference), this time 8-0 in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament Regionals.
Long Beach’s Kellie White, who earned Big West Pitcher of the Year with her season-long dominance, started the game for the Beach after being the hero in last weekend’s three-game sweep of Cal State Fullerton.
She came into the tournament regionals with a 16-6 record and a 1.94 regular season ERA, but struggled early as UCLA used a first inning hit and fielding error to plate a pair of runs to kick the game off.
The Bruins continued to hit the ball hard and early, which led to defensive miscues by a Long Beach defense that was solid in the final weeks of the season. UCLA took advantage of the multiple errors, hitting back-to-back home runs: a three-run by Briana Perez and a solo shot by Rachel Garcia, which put the Beach in a 6-0 deficit.
The second consecutive home run knocked White from the game after only a single inning, where she gave up six runs on four hits. The switch brought in sophomore Samantha Fowler for relief, who has stepped into a bigger role since the late season injury to Long Beach’s Shannon Haddad.
UCLA countered with sophomore pitcher Megan Faraimo. She stifled the Beach’s lineup, only giving up two hits and striking out eleven batters on the night.
Long Beach threatened to score against Faraimo in the fourth inning, when Rylie Seip hit a leadoff single that was misplayed and allowed her to reach second. A passed ball from the catcher allowed Seip to move to third base, and a walk by Breezy Wise put runners on first and third. However sophomore Emily Salazar struck out to end the potential rally inning.
Fowler only gave up three hits in her three innings of relief work, but gave up a solo home run in the second and fourth inning, both of them to UCLA’s junior infielder Delanie Wisz.
The pair of home runs put the Bruins up 8-0 and forced the mercy rule. This marks the second time this season that UCLA has done so against Long Beach.
Following the loss, Long Beach will continue Los Angeles regional play Saturday at 4 p.m. against No. 23 ranked Minnesota in the loser’s bracket. The loser of that game will be eliminated in the weekend’s double elimination system. The winner will move on to play the loser of the UCLA vs. Fresno State game.