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Bruins Reach Softball Final in Dramatic Style

May 26, 2003|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Faced with the possibility of becoming UCLA's first softball senior class never to have won a national title, the Bruins turned to a freshman to keep their championship dreams alive Sunday night.

Caitlin Benyi singled home Natasha Watley with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning to cap a dramatic two-run rally against Texas ace Cat Osterman and give the Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Longhorns in the NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.

UCLA (53-7), which has won eight NCAA titles, will play defending champion California in today's championship game.

Osterman, named the college player of the year Wednesday, had a three-hit shutout and 12 strikeouts after six innings. But with one out in the seventh, Monique Mejia singled before Andrea Duran moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt.

Watley singled through the middle to tie the score at 1-1 and moved to second on the throw home. The senior shortstop then raced home on Benyi's single to right field, barely beating the throw. She lunged around catcher Marlo Hanks and slapped the plate to score the winning run.

UCLA had defeated Texas, 3-0, earlier in the day on Keira Goerl's three-hit shutout to avoid elimination.

California stunned Arizona for the second consecutive season by defeating the top-seeded Wildcats twice. Chelsea Spencer's 12th-inning single helped the Golden Bears stave off elimination with a 2-1 victory, spoiling a 16-strikeout performance by Arizona pitcher Alicia Hollowell.

In the teams' second game, Veronica Nelson hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the fifth inning to send Cal (49-19) into the title game with a 4-1 victory over the Wildcats (56-7).


Aaron Wilson pitched a six-hitter and Josh Hansen hit a homer in the eighth inning to give San Diego a 3-1 victory over the Waves at Pepperdine in the third and decisive game of the West Coast Conference baseball championship series.

The Toreros (31-28) earned an automatic NCAA tournament bid for the second straight year. Pepperdine (36-23) must hope for an at-large bid when the field is announced today.


Aaron Hathawaya's double in the eighth inning broke a tie for Washington as it defeated USC, 10-8, for a three-game sweep and ended the Trojans' postseason baseball chances.

USC (28-28) finished in a fifth-place tie with UCLA at 11-13 in the Pacific 10 Conference The Trojans had been to the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons.

Fourth-place Washington (40-16, 15-9) figures to get an at-large berth.

UCLA (28-31) ended its season with an 18-7 victory over Washington State (19-37, 7-17) highlighted by junior third baseman Brandon Averill hitting for the cycle.


Matt Graves hit a three-run double to cap a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to give Chapman a 6-5 victory over Emory (Ga.) and keep the Panthers alive in the Division III World Series at Appleton, Wis.

Alex Taylor's two-out, bases-loaded single drove in a run to make it 5-3. Graves hit a drive to left-center and the ball got under Aaron Rosdal, who tried to make a game-saving catch.

Chapman (36-12) will play Anderson in an elimination game today.

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