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UCLA Walks It Off Against Oklahoma To Win Another Softball National Championship

Illustration for article titled UCLA Walks It Off Against Oklahoma To Win Another Softball National Championship
Screenshot: ESPN

It may not have been quite as dominant as the show of fireworks that they put on in their unbelievable 16-3 Game 1 win, but it was plenty more dramatic. The UCLA Bruins found the bats when they needed them, hit four dingers once again, and walked it off in the seventh for a 5-4 victory over a crushed Oklahoma squad that scratched and clawed to stay in it on Tuesday night. The sweep gave the Bruins their first championship since 2010, and their 12th title overall—the most in college softball history.


Even though this game was plenty closer than its predecessor, it looked like the Bruins might be cruising to another blowout after their first two batters of the game—Bubba Nickles and Briana Perez—slammed back-to-back dingers in the bottom of the first. But the Sooners were able to tag Player of the Year and starting UCLA pitcher Rachel Garcia just enough to remain alive. A Syd Romero solo shot cut the lead to 2-1 in the third, and a series of hits in the fourth tied it up at three-all.

Again, in the fifth, UCLA delivered what could have been a knockout, when Brianna Tautalafua hit her second dinger in as many nights. But as the Sooners got down to their final out in the seventh, senior Shay Knighten came up with one more clutch play to end her career, lifting a ball just beyond the center field wall to miraculously even the game 4-4.

UCLA got the decisive blow, however, by manufacturing a game-winning run in the bottom half. With two outs and a player on second, Kinsley Washington’s shallow single to left gave pinch-runner Jacqui Prober just barely enough time to beat the throw to the plate and win the game.

That hit denied Oklahoma’s senior class—which included a couple of all-time school greats in Romero and Knighten—what would have been their third championship. Instead, UCLA finally broke through again with a title after four previous years of failure at the College World Series, and the Bruins reasserted their legendary place as the queens of this sport.