About one year ago, a highly favored UCLA team was upset in its softball Super Regional, leaving the Bruins stunned, confused and imbued with a new resolve.
"We don't want to end how we did last year," UCLA first baseman Megan Langenfeld said before the game.
The Bruins proved Langenfeld was not spouting out empty words, as GiOnna DiSalvatore's walk-off home run in the bottom of the fifth gave the fifth-seeded Bruins (44-11) a 10-2 victory over Louisiana Lafayette (45-17). The teams play the second game of their best-of-three series at 4 p.m. Sunday at UCLA.
"It feels good," said DiSalvatore, who went three for four with three RBIs. "My team did a great job putting pressure on every inning. They gave me the chance to do that."
Last year a second-seeded Bruins team lost its Super Regional opener to Missouri and went on to lose the series. UCLA was not about to let that happen again.
After trailing 2-1, UCLA exploded in the second to score seven runs. Samantha Camuso, who went three for three with three RBIs, led off the rally with her 12th home run of the season.
Louisiana's runs came in the top of the second after Vallie Gaspard belted a two-run single to center field to drive in Britni Soria and Kelly Cormier.
After struggling in the second inning, the winning pitcher, Aleah Macon, didn't allow any runs the rest of the game. "I do feel like I get better as the innings go on," said Macon, who gave up four hits, struck out one and walked one.
The victory gave the Bruins 19 wins by mercy rule this season, tying a team record.
The Bruins, who have won 11 national championships, have missed the Women's College World Series two out of the past three years. They intend to get back.
"I think this team learned a lot from last year's experience," said UCLA assistant coach Lisa Fernandez.