The Oregon softball team and the No. 1 UCLA Bruins embattled on a pitchers' duel for the series finale in Los Angeles on Sunday.
The Ducks gave the Bruins their first conference loss of the season on Friday in a 4-3 victory, but the Bruins bounced back on Saturday with an 8-3 win.
The 2018 series finale was in a 0-0 deadlock until Oregon’s Shannon Rhodes hit a three-run walk-off home run. The 2019 installment continued in a similar trajectory.
Oregon pitcher Jordan Dail and UCLA pitchers Holly Azevedo and Rachel Garcia combined for just one earned run through the first five innings.
The Bruins pitchers allowed just one run, striking out nine while allowing just five hits and one walk.
Ultimately, it was UCLA that pulled ahead, when Dail gave up a three-run home run to Garcia and reliever Kailey Krueger surrendered a grand slam to Malia Quarles in the sixth inning.
The Oregon softball team (17-21, 2-10) fell 8-1 to the No. 1 UCLA Bruins (37-2, 11-1) in a hard-fought effort that the score does not give justice to.
Dail was once again punished for her defense’s mistakes early on. UCLA’s Kelli Godin reached base on an error by first baseman Lexi Wagner. She then reached third base when catcher Shaye Bowden committed an error on Godin’s steal attempt.
The Bruins scored Godin on a Briana Perez sacrifice fly, giving Dail her 11th unearned run of the season.
The sophomore left hander held the Bruins at bay, having zero earned runs until the bottom of the sixth on that Garcia home run. Then things fell apart.
In the same inning, Quarles launched a grand slam to put the game out of reach.
The Ducks were scoreless until the top of the fifth inning, where they took advantage of the Bruins’ shoddy defense.
With the bases loaded and two outs, center fielder Haley Cruse stepped to the plate against Garcia, the reigning espnW and Pac-12 player of the year.
Garcia got Cruse to chop the ball to shortstop, but Perez mishandled the tough play, allowing the tying run to score.
Although the Bruins won the game and the series, the Ducks put forth three great efforts on the weekend. Despite her line showing 13 earned runs this weekend, Dail shouldered a major load against a top-ranked team that had only been defeated once this season.
Oregon will return to Eugene for a three-game series against last-placed Cal (23-20, 2-12), which will start Thursday, April 18, at 5 p.m.
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack