(East Los Angeles, CA) June 1, 2021 [From The Editor’s Desk]: It couldn’t have been a better scenario for the Bruins “Do or Die” game, as their 2021 season hopes and dreams were made a reality by one of Rachel Garcia’s “Best Performances” in her four year career as a UCLA Bruin and All-American softball player. So what happened here? Because when the chips are down, if they were to have lost, there would not have been the opportunity to defend their current NCCA D-1 Softball Championship at the Women’s College World Series (WCWS). But as the saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” And as you’ll see, the Bruins and Rachel Garcia “Did” go on to record a milestone triumph. We now invite you to read our story, and view our outstanding photo gallery of this Super Regional Game #3.
As a result of their triumph in the NCAA’s Los Angeles Super Regional playoff against the Virginia Tech “Hokies,” their big dream marches on to the next round beginning this Thursday when they take on the Florida State Seminoles (FSU), a #10 tournament seed, in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series (WCWS).
Now, let’s take a quick look at some aspects of our Game 3. Virginia Tech’s Coach, Pete D’Amour, had no better option than to start for the third game in a row, his “Best,” Keely Rochard/(29-10), the winner of the opening game on Thursday, 5/27 and the loser of Game #2 on Friday night, 5/28.
On the Bruins side of the coin, let’s digest a few facts regarding their home field advantages…especially being back in their own dugout. Also, they couldn’t have felt more comfortable with the nearly 250 fans (Family and Alumni) cheering them on loudly, and all-game from the stands. Lastly, they simply looked more confident, due to their Game 2 victory the previous night, Friday, 5/28. It was clearly evident that the Bruins were “fired up and ready to go” as they took the field to start this “do or die” game.
(Game Summary): Garcia opened her first inning with the first two VA Tech hitters grounding out to third and short-stop. With these two plays, her infield defense was steady and ready to cleanly scoop up any balls hit in its direction. She then gave up a single to left by DP/Meredith Slaw, but retired their clean-up hitter, Jayme Bailey, with a fly-out to end the at-bats for the Hokies.
In the Bruins’ first at-bats, they were more patient on Rochard’s deliveries and it paid off with a run scoring situation that took place when #23/Aaliyah Jordan got a lead-off hit. Then Rachel Garcia batting second, singled to left. #97/JR-3B/Delanie Wisz was retired, but #7/FR-RF/Maya Brady advanced the runners on her infield put-out. It took a throwing error by Hokie’s SS/Kelsey Bennett on a Briana Perez grounder that allowed Jordan to score, giving the Bruins their 1st run and lead of the game. Kinsley Washington grounded out to 2B to end the inning.
Garcia pitched a very quick “1-2-3” second inning. In their half, the Bruins lead-off hitter, #19/FR-Catcher/Alyssa Garcia, was nicked on her right arm and given first base. She was replaced for a pinch runner, #94/FR-OF/Lauryn Carter. With one out, #48/SR-CF/Bubba Nickles, came up and drew a rare base-on-balls from Rochard. Coach Inouye-Perez then authorized Carter’s steal of 2B and it was successful, putting her in scoring position. Jordan then grounded to 2B/Addy Greene, but she committed a fielding error, and this allowed Carter to score. Bruins up now (2-0).
3rd inning…Garcia pitched a repeat of the 2nd inning, retiring VA Tech on another “1-2-3” cycle. The Bruin third started with a Brady pop-out. Then, #3/JR/SS/Briana Perez strode to the plate and delivered her 13th Home Run, a solo shot to right-center, and it was now Bruins 3, Hokies 0. The confidence was back and Bruin hitters were responding with huge results for their Ace pitcher.
4th inning…Rachel did what Rachel does well…she struck out the side. However, the Bruins came back with uneventful trips to the plate in their half. In the Hokies half of the 5th inning, Garcia gave up a double to Kelsey Bennett, but she was left stranded. Garcia then proceeded to add two more batters to her strike-out totals in this inning while the infield was doing its job. The Bruins started their 5th with a walk by #4/2B/Anna Vines, that was then followed by another fielding error, this time by Bennett at short. This set the stage for left-handed power hitter, Maya Brady once again to step up and into another Rochard fast ball that she sent to deep right-centerfield for a back-breaking 3-run homer. This doubled the margin to (6-0). VA Tech Coach Pete D’Amour then lifted his ace, Rochard, after facing these three batters and brought in right-hand reliever Ivy Rosenberry to finish the game. It was All-Academic from then on.
And to close out the game for the Bruins and their highly zealous fans, “Rachel Was Rachel” just one last time, as she fanned all three Hokies to end the game, much to the huge round of applause and “8-Claps” that were given to her and her jubilant teammates for winning the Super Regional. The Bruins earned a great (46-5) overall record with this win. With this victory, the 2021 Bruins punched their record 30th Ticket to the NCAA’s Division 1-Women’s College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City that begins on Thursday.
(Bruin Stat-Lines): Briana Perez & Maya Brady, (13th) Home Run each; Anna Vines, (1-3); Rachel Garcia, (1-3); Aaliyah Jordan (1-3); Alyssa Garcia, (1-2). R. Garcia’s pitching stats: 7 Innings (Shut-out/Complete game), 2 Hits; 13 Strike-outs (Ks); 0 Runs; 0 ER; 0 Base-on-Balls; (23) Batters Faced; 80 Pitches/60 Strikes; and Pitching Record (17-1).
(Next Up): #10 Florida State University (FSU) Seminoles, Round 1, on Thursday, June 3rd at 6:30 pm/PT. The game will be televised on ESPN.