FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – With the game tied at 2-2 during the bottom of the sixth on Sunday afternoon at Easton Stadium, No. 10/11 UCLA (21-5) got a key solo HR from third baseman Bubba Nickles to complete its rally past Texas softball (12-10), 3-2.
So far during the early portion of the 2017 campaign, Texas has played 12 of its 22 total contests against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll at the time of playing.
The Longhorns had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of thefirst, on RBI singles from sophomore center fielder Reagan Hathaway (2-for-3, RBI) and freshman second baseman Jade Gortarez (1-for-2, RBI), before the Bruins plated two runs in the third and got the solo HR in the sixth.
At the plate for the Burnt Orange & White, senior designated player Mickenzi Krpec also contributed a 2-for-3 effort with a run scored, while senior shortstop Devon Tunning was 1-for-4 with a tally.
Junior Paige von Sprecken (4-2) suffered the loss in relief, allowing one earned run on two hits with three walks and two strikeouts over 3.0 innings. Senior starter Tiarra Davis permitted two earned tallies on four hits with two walks and a K in 3.0 frames.
Texas threatened immediately in the top of the first as an error on a Tunning bouncer to short and a Krpec single off
the glove of leaping UCLA first baseman Brianna Tautalafua placed Longhorns at the corners. With the Bruins close to
escaping an early jam, the Longhorns did what they’ve done so often this year and that’s deliver with two outs. First, it was Hathaway who stepped into the box and ripped starter Selina Ta’amilo’s first pitch to left for a RBI. Gortarez followed immediately with a RBI base knock of her own on a blooper down the right field line as the Burnt Orange & White secured an early 2-0 lead.
Hoping to respond right back, UCLA got something going on a one-out double to the wall in left center from second
baseman Kylee Perez. A walk and a Davis wild pitch stationed two in scoring position with two down, but senior first baseman Kelli Hanzel handled a foul Tautalafua pop-up outside of first as the Bruins left a pair stranded.
A Delaney Spaulding leadoff single through the left side of the infield and a perfect Perez bunt got the Bruins offense going again in the third. UCLA nearly loaded the bases on another bunt, but Davis raced out of the circle to corral the ball and fired a strike to Gortarez covering first for the opening out. The Bruins eventually got onto the scoreboard, however, as catcher Madeline Jelenicki hit a shot to deep left center that just tipped off the end of a running Hathaway’s glove for a run-scoring double. A Davis wild pitch immediately followed, plating Perez from 60 feet away to dead-lock the count at 2-2.
A lead-off UCLA walk got Texas relief pitcher von Sprecken in a little bit of trouble starting the bottom of the fourth. The Yorba Linda, Calif., settled down quickly from the circle, however, escaping any potential danger by registering her first two strikeouts and inducing a Spaulding bouncer to third.
Bidding to re-take the lead in the fifth, Texas benefited from a Bruin error to christen the frame and got a two-out Krpec single through the left side of the infield to station a pair of Longhorns on the base paths. Unfortunately, a strikeout ended the opportunity with no damage as the score remained tied at 2-2.
Facing a two-on and one-out situation for UCLA during the bottom of the fifth, the Burnt Orange & White defense made the play of the game to that point. With runners standing at first and second, von Sprecken got Tautalafua to hit into a 4-6-3 double play that went Gortarez to Tunning to Hanzel to end another huge threat.
UCLA finally grabbed its first lead of the contest at 3-2 starting the bottom of the sixth as Nickles drove the initial pitch of the inning over the wall in left center.
Suddenly down to its last chance to extend the match-up in the seventh, the Longhorns went down in order against
Ta’amilo on a pair of groundouts and a strikeout.
Source- Texas Athletics Media Relations