UCLA Softball: Bruins Sweep Georgia, Punch Ticket to Oklahoma City

Taylor Tinsley's pitching prowess propelled the No. 6 UCLA Bruins to victory over the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs.
Ross Turteltaub/UCLA Athletics

Taylor Tinsley threw her blue glove down into the dirt, ran to her catcher Sharlize Palacios, and jumped into her arms in celebration as the No. 6 UCLA Bruins punched their ticket to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City with a 6-1 win over the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs on Friday night.

The moment for Tinsley completed the circle as the sophomore from Lawrenceville, Georgia, slammed the door on several of her former travel ball teammates. She only allowed four hits and struck out six, including Sarah Gordon, to end the game.

"It was a lot of fun to compete against a bunch of my friends," Tinsley told reporters after the game. "I played travel ball with over half the team and I know a lot of them from my hometown too."

When she was asked if the moment was a little sweeter because she was from Georgia, she acknowledged the question with a big grin and announced she grew up a Georgia Tech fan as a kid but did say, "Maybe, a little bit."

When the sophomore committed to UCLA in high school, she turned a lot of heads. The legendary Bruins program had never had a player from the state of Georgia before. Head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez knew Tinsley was a game-changer and wanted to make sure she became part of the “Bruin Bubble.”

"She could have easily stayed close to home," Inouye-Perez said about Tinsley. " shared with her how awesome it would be to be the role model... It is interesting to come back full circle playing against Georgia but Taylor is so much bigger than that.

"I'm very proud of her ability to make a decision both academically and athletically and obviously, we are very proud that she's a Bruin," Inouye-Pereze added. "We've been waiting for this moment. I could picture it. She worked for it. It was awesome just to see her play her game tonight."

As a freshman, Tinsley watched other teams celebrate on UCLA’s home field as the Bruins didn’t win a game in the NCAA Tournament last season. When this season started, the narrative was negative. It was almost like the next chapter picked up where the last one ended. She re-wrote it by putting the team on her back and guiding them to a record 32nd WCWS appearance.

The game wasn’t entirely about Tinsley. Palacios hit two home runs and Maya Brady did her thing as well. But, it was her moment and she deserved to let the spotlight shine on her just a little longer.

"Her pitches have grown, she's stronger, her velocity is better but she’s still the same
competitor that we same when she was a ninth grader," said Georgia head coach Tony Baldwin. "I have a lot of respect for Taylor and her family, this was her moment and she shined tonight. I have nothing but respect and congratulations for her."

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Maren Angus-Coombs


Maren Angus-Coombs was born in Los Angeles and raised in Nashville, Tenn. She is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and has been a sports writer since 2008. Despite being raised in the South, her sports obsession has always been in Los Angeles. She is currently a staff writer for the LA Sports Report Network.