With a walk-off victory, No. 2 UCLA defeated No. 1 Oklahoma 5-4 to win the 2019 Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2010 and UCLA’s women’s softball team secured its 12th NCAA championship.
In the best-of-three series, UCLA (56-6) won Game 1 and Game 2 to deny Oklahoma (57-6) its third title in the last four seasons. Oklahoma won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017. Florida State defeated Washington in the World Series finale last season.
UCLA manager Kelly Inouye-Perez won her 600th game with the victory. Inouye-Perez won her second World Series as the head coach of the Bruins, who last won in 2010.
“They’re a really gutsy, relentless, fighting team,” said Inouye-Perez. “I am so proud they enjoyed it. They had fun. They had each other’s backs.”
Inouye-Perez also played for softball for UCLA in the 1990s and won three titles during her stint as catcher for the Bruins.
UCLA won 13 overall softball titles, but only 12 are recognized by the NCAA. UCLA vacated their 1995 title due to a discrepancy in scholarships.
Big Game 1 for UCLA
The Women’s College World Series is hosted in Oklahoma City, so it was essentially a home game for the Sooners. Despite the advantage, UCLA destroyed Oklahoma 16-3 in the first game of the best-of-three World Series.
UCLA pitcher Rachel Garcia scattered just one run in five innings and she smacked a two-run home run to help put the Bruins ahead in the opening game. Garcia threw 179 pitches the day before to defeat Washington in the semifinals.
“Being able to score runs and not have Rachel be in the whole game was an ideal plan,” said manager Inouye-Perez.
The Bruins hit four long balls overall including dingers by Garcia Aaliyah Jordan, Briana Perez, and Brianna Tautalafua.
Game 2 Clincher
The Bruins jumped on the board with back-to-back home runs in the first inning by Bubba Nickles and Briana Perez.
Aaliyah Jordan smacked a solo home run to put the Bruins ahead 3-1 in the third inning. However, the Sooners stormed back and tied it up after RBI hits from Falepolima Aviu and Lynnsie Elam. Brianna Rautalafua hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to put the Bruins back on top 4-3.
The Sooners were down to their last out before they tied the score with solo shot over the centerfield wall by Shay Knighten. With the score tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Kinsley Washington got a clutch hit to leftfield and pinch-runner Jacqui Prober scored at home plate to win the game. The Bruins secured the win and championship in walk-off fashion.
“This team got on a mission,” said Inouye-Perez. “They were very convicted in being able to bring it back to Westwood in 2019.”
UCLA lost in the semifinals of the World Series last season. The Bruins were on a mission to avenge that heartbreaking loss.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) June 5, 2019
Good Times, Bad Times in West LA
The Pac-12 has been underwhelming in basketball and football in the last few years. The Bruins struggled under new football coach Chip Kelly.
At the same time, the basketball suffered a couple of embarrassing losses and UCLA’s AD fired head coach Steve Alford. Even the rumors of Rick Pitino joining the Bruins could not get UCLA fans fired up about the hoops squad.
At least there’s something to celebrate in Westwood for students and alumni with the women’s softball team securing a 12th NCAA championship for the Bruins.