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Softball upsets No. 3 UCLA despite overall series loss
Sophomore shortstop Kristina Inouye (above) put the Cardinal up 4-0 against the UCLA Bruins on Sunday with a massive 3-run single to left field. Inouye's bat was active the entire weekend, recording the most hits on the team during the series. (KAREN AMBROSE HICKEY/isiphotos.com)

Softball upsets No. 3 UCLA despite overall series loss

Despite dropping the overall series 1-2, Stanford softball (21-16, 2-7 Pac-12) accomplished something on Sunday that they hadn’t done since 2014. The Cardinal took a game off of No. 3 ranked UCLA (34-3, 9-3), handing them their third loss of the season at the Bruins’ home stadium in Los Angeles.

The lone Stanford victory came after two one-sided affairs earlier in the weekend. The series opened with freshman Maddy Dwyer taking the mound on Friday, and pitching a complete game. Despite struggling in the first three innings, and allowing five UCLA earned runs, Dwyer found her groove towards the end of the game, getting out of the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings without allowing a single run. She also struck out seven Bruin batters in a row during these innings. Dwyer was awarded the loss, her season record falling to 11-7 after the eventual 5-2 Bruin victory.

The Cardinal offense was neutralized on Friday by the pitching of UCLA’s Selina Ta’amilo, who kept the Stanford bats down. In fact, Ta’amilo limited the Cardinal to two hits on the entire day.

The Bruins were up 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth when several fielding errors committed by UCLA loaded the bases. They allowed sophomore shortstop Kristina Inouye to score on another fielding error and sophomore outfielder Molly Fowkes to score on a sacrifice grounder to first base, giving the Cardinal the only two runs they would score during the game.

The team did not fare much better during Saturday’s game, when they were drubbed by the Bruins once again by a final score of 3-0. This time the Cardinal faced off against UCLA’s freshman pitcher Holly Azevedo, who improved to 12-0 on the season with the win against Stanford. Azevedo dominated Cardinal batters, holding the team to only three total hits and zero runs.

Pitching for Stanford was junior Carolyn Lee, who made it through all six innings, but allowed one run to the Bruins in the third and two more in the sixth. Lee did finish the game with a career-high six strikeouts, showing off her ability even as her record fell to 1-3 on the season.

Both of these losses seemed small, however, after the Cardinal’s takedown of UCLA on Sunday. This upset was Stanford softball’s first win over a No. 3 or higher seed since they defeated No. 3 Alabama on February 14th, 2015. The Cardinal ran rampant over the Bruins in the top of the third inning to claim their victory by a score of 4-1.

The pitching duties for Stanford during the final game of the series were handled by a tag-team combination of Dwyer and Lee. Dwyer started the day in the circle, going 3.2 innings, striking out four batters, and allowing zero runs before being pulled in the fourth. Lee finished the job for the Cardinal, taking over for 3.1 innings, allowing only one run, and striking out one batter. With solid pitching holding the Bruins to one, it was up to the Cardinal offense to make a mark with their bats.

Ta’amilo was back on the mound for the Bruins, and pitched all seven innings of the game. The Cardinal recorded eight hits during this game, the bats finally coming alive. Although Stanford scored four runs, only one of them was earned, errors by UCLA contributing to the other Stanford scores.

An infield single by senior infielder Lauren Wegner started off the productive fourth inning for Stanford. A fielding error committed by UCLA on a sacrifice bunt allowed junior outfielder Lauren Frost to reach second base, as the ball sailed past the first baseman into the outfield. The bases were loaded intentionally, and sophomore Hannah Howell knocked in a run with a single to left field.

With the bases still loaded, Inouye came up to the plate and knocked the ball into left field. The massive hit, combined with a fielding error by UCLA’s left fielder let the bases clear and put Stanford up 4-0. This impressive rally was the most success Stanford had found on offense all weekend.

Coming off of their massive upset, Stanford will look for another win in a single game against St. Mary’s on Wednesday as they return to The Farm. The action begins at 7PM PST.

Contact Bobby Pragada at bpragada “at” stanford.edu