UCLA softball earns College World Series berth with shutout of Ole Miss

LOS ANGELES — UCLA clinched its third straight Women’s College World Series berth with a 1-0 win over No. 12 seed Ole Miss on Friday at Easton Stadium.

One night after throwing a career-high 232 pitches, Rachel Garcia was called upon in relief and pitched four hitless innings to preserve UCLA’s first-inning RBI single from Madeline Jelenicki. The redshirt freshman pitcher struck out five and walked one while earning the win.

For the first time since May 6, someone other than Kaitlin Lee got the ball for the Rebels (43-20). Lee, who threw 191 pitches in Thursday’s 11-inning marathon, had pitched eight straight complete games. Brittany Finney started the game after only pitching only 35-2/3 innings this season.

Finney gave up only four hits and held UCLA (47-13) to its lowest scoring output since an April 13 shutout against Oregon State, but she got no support from her offense.

The Rebels were 0 for 15 with runners on base Friday. Alyssa Gonzalez (Chino High) was the only player with multiple hits, going 2 for 3.

A team effort from the UCLA defense kept the Rebels down. Gabrielle Maurice made a diving catch in left field then held the runner at third to prevent Ole Miss from scoring in the third inning. Paige Halstead gunned Kylan Becker down at second to end the fifth inning after the Ole Miss right fielder was caught stealing on a Garcia strikeout.

After winning Friday’s opener with a two-out single in the 11th, it was another two-out rally that got the Bruins on the board. Delaney Spaulding and Kylee Perez…

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