UCLA can't capitalize on chances, falling to rival Oklahoma in Women's College World Series

One pitch, one mistake and now UCLA is one loss away from the end of its season.

No. 2 Oklahoma survived a pitchers’ duel in a 1-0 win over No. 6 UCLA in the Women’s College World Series on Saturday at Devon Park, advancing to the semifinals on a solo home run from shortstop Tiare Jennings and 11 strikeouts from Kelly Maxwell.

UCLA (43-11) will play Pac-12 rival Stanford in an elimination game Sunday at 4 p.m. PDT (ESPN2).

Saturday’s titanic clash of the sport’s winningest program against the current dynasty featured the two longest active winning streaks in the country. UCLA’s run of 14 consecutive wins ended while Oklahoma stretched its streak to 11 straight. The Sooners, who are trying to become the first program in history to win four consecutive NCAA softball championships, have won 20 straight NCAA tournament games. The Bruins were the last team to beat the Sooners (56-7) in the postseason in 2022.

Maya Brady was the hero in the 7-3 win that forced an “if necessary” game in the 2022 national semifinals, but the fifth-year senior couldn’t muster anything against Maxwell on Saturday. The Oklahoma State transfer gave up just two hits and three walks in a complete-game shutout.

The top of UCLA’s lineup — Brady, Jadelyn Allchin and Sharlize Palacios, who are three of UCLA’s top four hitters by average — combined to go 0 for 10 at the plate with six strikeouts. Brady, who turned 23 Saturday, struck out three times, tying her career high in a game. She had a chance to keep the Bruins alive in the top of the seventh, but grounded out to second base.

UCLA, which had thrived in the postseason off timely hitting, left seven on base.

The Bruins had two on with no outs in the top of the third with the top of their lineup at the plate. With Brady, who had reached base in 16 consecutive games batting, the Sooners called time out. Maxwell then struck out the UCLA slugger.

Maxwell retired three of UCLA’s most experienced players in order to end the threat. After sending Brady back to the dugout, Maxwell forced a shallow infield fly by Allchin and struck out UCLA home run leader Palacios. The Bruins left the golden opportunity without a run.

Oklahoma immediately took advantage with a leadoff home run from Jennings. The shortstop from San Pedro sent Kaitlyn Terry’s first pitch sailing over the fence in left-center field.

But the Bruins limited the damage to just one run with stellar play from its defense. After center fielder Janelle Meoño watched Jennings’ homer, the UCLA fifth-year senior robbed Kasidi Pickering of a two-run shot that could have turned the momentum squarely toward the Sooners. Instead, the Bruins finished the inning with a strikeout from Terry.

Terry, starting her second consecutive game, gave up three hits, one run and three walks with four strikeouts in four innings. Sophomore Taylor Tinsley pitched three innings in relief, surrendering one hit with two strikeouts.

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