A walk-off RBI and stupendous slide into home plate provided an incredible ending to an exciting game 2 of the Women’s College World Series, putting the UCLA Bruins back on top in NCAA softball.
The Bruins beat Oklahoma 5-4 on Tuesday night and UCLA won the championship series 2-0, thanks to Kinsley Washington’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning. The emotional victory secured the school’s 12th NCAA title and 13th national title, the university’s first since 2010.
Watch the team’s jubilant reaction to pinch-runner Jacqui Prober scoring the winning run with a powerful slide on Washington’s hit in this tweet from NCAA Softball.
After the players finally emerged from that dogpile, Most Outstanding Player of the World Series honors went to Rachel Garcia for throwing 179 pitches and hitting a walk-off homer in the semifinal win over Washington on Sunday, and her work in leading the Bruins to victory in Game 1 against Oklahoma on Monday. To clinch on Tuesday night, Garcia gave up four runs and eight hits.
Brianna Tautalafua had three hits, and Washington and Aaliyah Jordan each had two.
This was an especially sweet victory for out coach Kirk Walker, who left his head coaching job at Oregon State to helm the Bruins to this world championship title. Scholarship violations in 1995 invalidated the title that year, in the eyes of the NCAA, which is why some reports say 12 championships and others say 13.
In Game 1 on Monday, the Bruins (56-6) demolished the Sooners 16-3 and tied the record for most runs scored in a Women’s World Series game.
After getting trounced Monday, Oklahoma did not go down without a fight in Game 2.
The Sooners (57-6) seemed on the cusp of winning their third title in four years. Twice during Game 2, the Bruins loaded the bases, only to be undone by Giselle “G” Juarez. She had struggled at the start, giving up solo homers with her first four pitches to UCLA’s Bubba Nickles and Briana Perez. Aaliyah Jordan smacked a solo home run in the third to put the Bruins on top 3-1.
The fourth inning was a nailbiter. Oklahoma’s Nicole Mendes hit a single and then came home on an RBI single by Falepolima Aviu. A double by Lynnsie Elam drove-in pinch runner Raegan Rogers to tie the game at 3. Garcia had runners on second and third with one out when she intentionally walked Sydney Romero, loading the bases. Garcia made quick work of Caleigh Clifton as she struck out, then got Jocelyn Alo to ground out to finally end the inning.
UCLA roared back into the lead in the fifth on Tautalafua’s solo home run.
Bruins were on top, 4-3, with two outs in the top of the seventh, when the Sooners’ Shay Knighten blasted a solo homer to tie the game.
UCLA had fallen short in the Women’s College World Series for four consecutive seasons, but Washington’s key RBI with two outs in the bottom of the 7th put the Bruins back in the history books as champions.