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#pounditMonday, January 17, 2022

UCLA softball wins championship on walk-off hit to cap thrilling finish

UCLA softball

The UCLA Bruins on Tuesday night beat the Oklahoma Sooners 5-4 on a walk-off hit that capped a thrilling finish, delivering the school its 12th softball championship and 118th national title in all sports.

Sophomore Kinsley Washington dropped in an opposite field single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to drive in pinch runner Jacqui Prober from second, who scored on a spectacular slide around catcher Lynnsie Elam:

Washington, whose father James played football at UCLA and won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, was 2-for-4 in the game, a day after going 4-for-4 in the Bruins’ 16-3 win over the Sooners in the first of the best-of-3 series.

The Bruins had a chance to close out the game in the top of the inning. They had taken a 4-3 lead on a solo home run in the fifth by Brianna Tautalafua and carried that score into the top of the seventh. Redshirt junior pitcher Rachel Garcia, a two-time Player of the Year, got two outs to start the seventh and was an out away from the championship, but Oklahoma senior Shay Knighten smoked a 2-1 pitch over the left-center fence to tie the game:

Undeterred, Garcia got the next batter out to end the inning. In the bottom of the seventh, Taylor Pack led off with a single, was sacrificed over to second, and was thrown out at third on a fielder’s choice to give Oklahoma two outs. UCLA’s runner, Colleen Sullivan, advanced to second on a wild pitch. The Bruins pinch ran for Sullivan with Prober, who scored the winning run on Washington’s walk-off hit.

The season caps an excellent campaign for the Bruins, which finished the year 57-6. They entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 overall seed, behind only Oklahoma. The Bruins went 3-0 against Oklahoma on the season, beating the Sooners once in a non-conference game in February and twice to win the championship in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma entered the NCAA Tournament with just two losses. They finished the season 57-6, with half their losses coming to the Bruins.

This is UCLA’s first softball title since 2010. The school’s 12 national championships are the most in the sport.

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