Washington defeats top-ranked Bruins

Rita Roach scored the go ahead run to cap a four run sixth inning outburst as the 12th ranked Huskies rallied for an improbable 9-6 victory over top ranked UCLA before a frenzied crowd of 1,234 at Husky Softball Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday, UCLA wasted no time forcing Washington to come from behind, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning on a bases loaded double down the left field line by Stephanie Ramos.

After managing only a single by Jaime Clark and three baserunners total in a 2-0 defeat against Pacific-10 conference earned run average leader Keira Goerl on Friday, the road to victory on Saturday appeared no less daunting, as UCLA started Amanda Freed, 15-1 with a 0.42 ERA, in the pitcher's circle.

Right from the outset, Freed struggled with her control, as she faced six Huskies in the first inning and did not throw a first pitch strike to any of them.

Becky Simpson led off with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Roach. Then Jaime Clark stepped to the plate and, on the fifth pitch from Freed, ripped a line drive over the left field fence by the foul pole for a two run home run and a tie game.

UCLA regained the lead in the third inning, as Tairia Mims doubled to center, advanced to third on a single by Ramos, and scored when Crissy Buck doubled off the left field wall, chasing Husky starter Ashley Boek from the game.

With runners on at second and third, Husky coach Teresa Wilson brought in Leslie Scott to relieve Boek and Scott retired both batters she faced, Toria Auelua on a pop up to Steph Nicholson at second base and Monique Mejia on a ground ball to short.

The Bruins extended their lead to 6-2 in the top of the fourth inning when Natasha Watley led off with a single to center field, Claire Sua drew a one out walk, and Stacey Nuveman, leading the Pac-10 with a .553 batting average entering the game, hit a towering three run home run way beyond the left field fence.

Despite Freed's struggles on the mound, a four run deficit seemed too much for the Huskies to overcome, but they whittled away at it nonetheless. Kathy Fiske battled Freed for eight pitches to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning before lining her sixth home run of the season over the left field wall to make the score 6-3 UCLA.

Two outs later Simpson walked and Roach singled to right. Clark then stepped into the batter's box, with a home run and single in her two previous at-bats. Rather than walking Clark to load the bases and face freshman Kristen Rivera, UCLA elected to pitch to Clark, and she made the Bruins pay for that decision, doubling to right field to score Simpson and make it 6-4.

Rivera then hit a low liner that Mejia could not field cleanly, and Roach scored, bringing Washington to within one run.

The two teams traded zeros on the scoreboard until the bottom of the sixth. UCLA brought in Goerl, who shut out the Huskies a day earlier, to relieve Freed and preserve the lead.

Considering that she boasted a 16-2 record and a 0.30 ERA, it seemed as if she would.

However, the Huskies put their first two batters aboard in the sixth, as Simpson led off with a walk and UCLA third baseman Auelua threw a bunt by Roach into center field in a failed attempt to force Simpson at second. Clark came to the plate once again, and although she did not reach base, she advanced the runners with a chopper to second.

UCLA then intentionally walked Rivera to load the bases and set up a force play at any base. Amanda Oleson came to bat for the Huskies and made the strategy backfire on the Bruins, grounding a single past the outstretched gloves of Auelua and Watley to score Simpson and tie the game.

When left fielder Ramos bobbled the ball, Roach raced home and scored the go-ahead run, beating Ramos' throw home. When Ramos' throw went into the first base dugout, allowing each runner to take an extra base, Rivera scored a valuable insurance run to make it 8-6, and Oleson advanced all the way to third base. When Watley could not cleanly field Courtney Jeffries' grounder to short, Oleson scored to give Washington a 9-6 lead and its final margin of victory.

Tia Bollinger pitched three innings of scoreless relief to earn the win and raise her record to 13-5. Goerl took the loss to drop to 16-3, allowing four runs on one hit and two walks in one inning of work.

For the season, Washington improved to 30-9 overall and squared its Pac-10 record at 1-1, while UCLA dropped to 33-4 overall and 1-1 in the conference.

The Huskies return to action on Tuesday, April 2, when they play non-conference opponent Portland State in a doubleheader at Husky Softball Stadium. The game will begin at 2 p.m. Washington returns to conference action with a game against Arizona in Tucson on Friday, April 5 at 6 p.m. The game in Arizona can be heard live on the radio, on 1150 AM KKNW.

NOTES: Clark finished 3-4 with a home run and 3 RBI for the Huskies. In addition to, for all intents and purposes, keeping Washington in the game, she raised her team leading home run and RBI totals to 14 and 56. She also extended two personal streaks with her home run in the first, as she has now reached base via a hit, walk, or hit by pitch in 49 consecutive games, dating back to the 2001 season, and now owns a hitting streak of 14 games.

Streak snapped: The Huskies snapped a five game losing streak to UCLA, beating the Bruins for the first time since a 4-1 victory in Los Angeles on May 10, 2000.

Open the floodgates: The 9 runs scored by the Huskies equals the most runs the Huskies have ever scored in 40 games against the Bruins, matching the nine runs scored in a 9-1, five inning victory over UCLA on April 11, 1998. The Huskies also own the distinction of scoring the most runs of any UCLA opponent in 2002. Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton held the previous high of three runs scored against UCLA, in victories over the Bruins on February 23 and February 27, respectively.

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