June 21, 2024

Maya Brady had to wait a little bit, but the Pac-12 Conference player of the year entered the top 10 on UCLA’s all-time hits list in the fifth inning on a single up the middle to give the Bruins a decisive 9-1 run-rule win over Grand Canyon University to win the NCAA softball Los Angeles Regional.

It was UCLA’s second win against Grand Canyon this weekend, with the Bruins also run-ruling the Lopes 9-0 on Friday in the tournament’s opening game.

“We knew that the run-rule on Friday didn’t mean anything, we were just ready to play,” UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “If we wanted to extend our season, we had to take it today no matter who was in the other dugout. It’s about us.”

The Bruins set the tone in the first inning Sunday when senior catcher Sharlize Palacios hit her third home run of the weekend, a moonshot over the left-center- field fence to bring in Brady and Jadelyn Allchin, giving UCLA an early 3-0 lead.

“We were just focused on coming out, it was kind of like a killer mentality. We wanted to go out and make a statement,” Palacios said of her team’s first inning. “We just showed them we were ready to play.”

Allchin, who went three for three with a walk Sunday, led the charge offensively for UCLA with a solo home run to open the top of the third inning and extend the Bruins lead to 4-0. She hit a single in the following inning to load the bases with no outs. The Bruins scored three runs in the fourth to balloon their lead by another four runs.

“I was wanting to come into the game with more patience,” Allchin said of her first home run since April 6. “So just being able to trust the process and just being able to trust all the work that we’ve been putting in, I was able to just kind of set myself up in the position to make contact and put a good swing on it.”

The Lopes got a home run from Tinley Lucas in the bottom of the third inning, but their bats had no answer for UCLA pitcher Taylor Tinsley, who struck out six of the 20 batters she faced through five innings while giving up two hits.

“We wouldn’t be sitting in this room if it wasn’t for Taylor Tinsley and what she’s done throughout this entire season. She’s put the team on her back,” Inouye-Perez said. “Her presence has just locked on and the growth that she’s had from last year to this year is just truly amazing.”

Grand Canyon, on the other hand, went through four pitchers , which head coach Shannon Hays attributed largely to a nagging hip flexor injury to senior Hailey Hudson.

“She’s been a mainstay for us and to not have her innings, how we’ve had them all year, really stretched us,” Hays said of his pitching strategy. “But you know, [we were] probably not trying to get [UCLA’s] lineup too comfortable and see one pitcher over and over. It’s what we attempted to do, obviously it didn’t work out how we wanted it to.”

UCLA will now host Georgia in a super regional next weekend, with the Bruins’ eyes set on Oklahoma City and the Women’s College World Series.

“It’s what we call the ‘success phase’ and it’s the best time of the season,” Inouye-Perez said. “Right now, we just want to keep on playing … and right now, we’re really enjoying playing softball.”

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