By Arnie Leshin
That’s back-to-back defeats, a crushing blow to nationally ranked, a record 12-championship UCLA.
The latest, Friday’s 3-2 setback against visiting Grand Canyon in round one of the NCAA National Division 1 Women’s Softball Tournament ended the Bruins season at 52-8.
It came shortly after UCLA lost 6-3 in the PAC-12 final to Utah, and still got it a No. 2 seed in the national tournament.
As for Grand Canyon, it arrived with an impressive overall record of 47-11 and on a 10-game win streak. But it certainly didn’t play a UCLA-type schedule.
“Hey, we’ll take it,” said Antelopes head coach Shanon Hayes. “We’ve had a good season and came in here with confidence.”
“Here” was Eastern Stadium in Los Angeles where the Bruins play some of their home games.
But the site mattered little to Grand Canyon. It yielded a run in the bottom of the third when freshman second baseman Megan Grant singled in Lauren Hatch after the latter began the inning with a double down the left field line.
That came off Antelopes starting right-hander Mel Golden.
But in the top of the fourth, back came Grand Canyon with three runs off righty Marian Farnenaur. Senior first baseman Madison Schaefer had the big blow, a three-run shot over the fence in right-center field.
She followed the walk to Kate Dutchel and single by Emma Rodriguez.
In the fifth, the Bruins cut the gap to 3-2 on a solo home run by Grant to left field.
The exciting win went to Emily Darwin, the right-handed sophomore who came on in the third after UCLA scored. She went three frames, not allowing a walk or having any strikeouts.