OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Run-scoring doubles by Lisa Dodd and Stephanie Ramos hoisted UCLA to Monday night’s championship game with a 3-1 win over Stanford in 12 innings Sunday afternoon at the Women’s College World Series.
UCLA will vie for the national title for the second straight year after Keira Goerl hurled a no-hitter in last year’s title game win over California. Monday night’s appearance will mark the 17th appearance in the championship tilt for the Bruins.
It wasn’t easy for either team, as both pitchers worked out of threats to send the game into extra frames.
“All day we hit it hard, but it was right at people,” Caitlin Benyi said. “We just tried to keep at it, and luckily we busted through.”
Goerl picked up the win to move to 30-7, allowing one run on 11 hits with six strikeouts. Dana Sorenson matched her pitch for pitch as she allowed three runs on 10 hits with eight strikeouts in the losing effort.
“I was impressed with Keira’s mental toughness,” UCLA head coach Sue Enquist said. “Everyone stayed tough. We played solid defense when we had to. I have to give Stanford credit. They are a class act and have an excellent coaching staff. Dana Sorensen got better as the game went on.”
Caitlin Benyi started off the offense for the Bruins (46-9) as she took the second pitch of the game from Sorensen over the UCLA sign in left center for her 24th home run of the year.
Stanford (49-19) tied it up in the bottom half of the opening frame as Catalina Morris singled, stole second and later scored on an RBI single from Jessica Allister.
“I’m very proud of this team. They gave everything they had,” Cardinal head coach John Rittman said. “You have to tip your hat to UCLA though. They made the plays when they had to. I was pleased with the way we played defense today.”
After the opening frame, each team’s offenses had several opportunities to take the lead or win the game, but both pitchers silenced the threats.
UCLA loaded the bases in the second, but Stanford got out of the jam as a base-running error by Jodie Legaspi got a force out at the plate. On the same play, Emily Zaplatosch got hung up in a run-down between second and third to complete the double play.
Both Goerl and Sorensen settled down until the fifth when the Cardinal challenged behind a pair of singles from Morris and Allister. With one out and runners at first and second, Allister delivered a single but Morris got thrown out as she made a wide turn at third and was unable to get back to the bag. Goerl got Leah Nelson to ground out to end the threat.
The Bruins had the chance to take the lead in the top of the seventh as Legaspi doubled to leadoff the frame on a ball that went off of Meghan Sickler’s knee and rolled to the fence down the first base line. Zaplatosch sacrificed Legaspi to third, but Sorensen struck out Ashley Herrera and Alissa Eno to end the threat.
The Bruins threatened again in the ninth as Claire Sua singled to leadoff the frame. Legaspi and Michelle Turner each walked, but Sorensen got out of the bases-loaded jam by striking out Julie Hoshizaki.
The Cardinal got their chance to win the game in the 10th, but once again UCLA got the big outs to end the threat. Back-to-back singles by Julie Rinehart and Morris got the inning started, and they were moved to third and second, respectively, by a Laura Lappin sacrifice bunt. After Allister earned an intentional pass to load the bases, Goerl got Nelson to ground into a fielder’s choice and Elizabeth Bendig to hit a ground ball to third to end the inning.
The teams maintained the defensive struggle until the 12th when UCLA got a leadoff walk by Benyi. Following an Andrea Duran sacrifice that moved Benyi to second, Dodd delivered her first hit of the game at a clutch time as she laced a double down the left field line that scored Benyi. She then added the insurance run as she scored on Ramos’ double.
UCLA will await the winner of Sunday night’s match up between California and LSU in Monday night’s championship game set to be played at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Notes from the Diamond
- UCLA leads the all-time series against Stanford 41-8, including the last four in a row.
- The game was the fifth longest in WCWS history.
- Both Dana Sorensen and Keira Goerl had their longest outings of the season.
- UCLA’s Benyi has led off the game with a home run seven times this season. She has led off an inning 11 times.
- UCLA’s Legaspi has reached safely in 12-straight games. She has registered 17 hits and 12 RBIs over that stretch.
- Stanford’s Heather Shook recorded her first hit of the year against UCLA.
- Cardinal senior Jessica Allister recorded her third RBI and fourth hit of the WCWS with a run-scoring single in the first.