UCLA's season ends in Women's College World Series loss to Stanford

The clock struck midnight on UCLA’s Bruin Magic.

After a season defined by miraculous wins, the No. 6 Bruins came up at least one comeback short, losing 3-1 in a Women’s College World Series elimination game to No. 8 Stanford on Sunday at Devon Park. UCLA returned to Oklahoma City for the eighth time in nine seasons but went out on a whimper with only one run in its last two games.

UCLA (43-12) had 12 wins this season when trailing or tied in the fifth inning or later, but couldn’t muster lucky No. 13 against Stanford ace NiJaree Canady. The USA Softball collegiate player of the year gave up four hits and one run with eight strikeouts in her fifth consecutive complete game.

The Bruins swept Stanford (50-16) during the regular season, eking out two close wins over Canady. UCLA took down the star sophomore 1-0 in nine innings to open the series then won the finale 2-0. The weekend served as a coming-out party for sophomore Taylor Tinsley, who pitched 15-2/3 scoreless innings with 20 strikeouts.

UCLA needed Tinsley to shine again Sunday after she entered in relief in the third inning of a 1-1 game. Stanford chased UCLA starter Kaitlyn Terry with a tying RBI double by Taryn Kern, then Tinsley gave up the go-ahead hit on an RBI single by first baseman Ava Gall. The Cardinal extended their lead in the fifth, leading off with back-to-back bunts and scoring on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Allie Clements to bring home Emily Jones.

Tinsley gave up three hits and one run with one strikeout after Terry’s three-hit, three-strikeout start.

A two-run lead was far from insurmountable for a team that entered the World Series leading the postseason field with 7.8 runs per game in the NCAA tournament. But the Bruins picked the worst time for a dry spell.

After being shut out for the first time since April 7 by Oklahoma on Saturday, UCLA didn’t get a runner into scoring position until in the seventh inning. Savannah Pola was hit by a pitch to keep the Bruins alive with two outs, and Thessa Malau’ulu poked a line-drive single past the Stanford shortstop to get two on for the Bruins. The rowdy UCLA section seated behind the first base line waved their blue and gold pompoms as Ramsey Suarez stepped into the batter’s box. The pinch-hitter grounded out.

Sophomore Megan Grant produced UCLA’s only run with a solo home run to lead off the third inning. Back-to-back Pac-12 player of the year Maya Brady struck out three times, tying her career high and equaling her mark from Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Oklahoma. The fifth-year senior was two for 10 at the plate in the World Series, with no hits in seven appearances in the last two games for the Bruins.

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