The Bruins earned their fair share of free passes Friday night, and they made sure to cash them in.
No. 5 seed UCLA softball (44-8, 19-5 Pac-12) steamrolled Grand Canyon (39-15, 19-5 WAC) in their opening game of the Los Angeles Regional, picking up a 12-1 run rule win at Easton Stadium. The Bruins’ 7-3 advantage in hits may not typically spell an 11-run victory, but the blue and gold drew 10 walks and made the most out of each and every one of them.
A good chunk of those walks came with two strikes or when the Bruins started behind in the count, something coach Kelly Inouye-Perez chalked up to patience and discipline.
“That’s being dialed in and literally having what we call quality at-bats,” Perez said. “I was really proud of that, especially on day one – there’s a lot of adrenaline and everybody wants to be able to swing it big … but being selfless, being able to have patience created those opportunities so that they could pass the bats.”
UCLA had two outs in the second and still no hits, but they had at least gotten on the board by drawing three walks to set up senior first baseman Kinsley Washington for a sac fly to center. A hit-by-pitch reloaded the bases, and that's when the Bruins finally turned a hit into a positive play.
Senior third baseman Delanie Wisz took one opposite field, popping it over the right field wall for a grand slam that made it 5-0 UCLA. That long ball came just hours removed from Wisz getting picked No. 8 overall in the Women's Professional Fastpitch Draft by the USSSA Pride, making Friday quite the day for the former LMU transfer.
“It’s awesome,” Wisz said. “That’s been a dream of mine since I started playing softball, so for that to happen on today of all days is pretty cool.”
More walks set the Bruins up for more runs in the third, once again loading the bases on free passes alone. Senior shortstop Perez doubled to left to drive in two, then Wisz singled up the middle to drive in two more and make it 9-0.
UCLA opened up the fourth with three-straight doubles by sophomore center fielder Maya Brady, sophomore catcher Alyssa Garcia and sophomore designated player Thessa Malau'ulu. Washington grounded out to second for another RBI, making it an even dozen on the scoreboard for the Bruins.
All throughout the offensive onslaught, senior Holly Azevedo was dominating from the circle.
Azevedo got through the first four innings without allowing a run, only giving up one hit in those opening few frames. The Antelopes spoiled Azevedo's shutout in the top of the fifth with back-to-back doubles that resulted in a run, but it was too little, too late for the bottom seed in the region.
Washington and Perez both had multiple RBIs, but it was Wisz who led the way with six RBIs in her 3-for-3 performance.
UCLA will face off against Wisz's old team, LMU, in the first game of the winner's bracket on Saturday. The Bruins are 28-1 against the Lions all-time, with their lone loss coming in a knockout game at the 2007 Los Angeles Regional.