To the UCLA softball team, the nagging pain and embarrassment had gone on far too long.
After missing the Women's College World Series two of the last three years, in 2007 and again in 2009, a UCLA program decorated with 11 national championships was devastated.
"We felt sick the whole summer and fall," said senior Megan Langenfeld, a finalist for the national player-of-the-year award.
The Bruins (45-11) channeled all of that frustration into a spectacular weekend of softball, sweeping Louisiana Lafayette (45-18) with two consecutive mercy-rule victories during their Super Regional series. They sealed it with a 10-1 victory Sunday, which followed a 10-2 victory Saturday at Easton Stadium.
It was an impressive display of power hitting and defense, a declaration of their renewed relevance.
Those victories earned them a ticket to the World Series in Oklahoma City, where they will face No. 4 Florida on Thursday.
UCLA Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said the Bruins' newfound momentum is "huge" as they prepare to play the Gators, who beat them in their last World Series appearance in 2008.
"We just reinforced we are who we are," Inouye-Perez said.
Senior Kaila Shull started the Bruins' rally by belting the ball out of the park for a two-run home run in the top of the fourth to give UCLA a 3-1 advantage.
Then in the fifth inning the Bruins went in for the kill, turning a slight lead into a blowout.
Dani Yudin had a run-scoring single, Samantha Camuso hit a grand slam and B.B Bates added a two-run homer to catapult the Bruins to a 10-1 advantage.
The shell-shocked Ragin' Cajuns couldn't deliver a hit during their next at-bat, giving the Bruins their 20th run-rule win of the year, a school record.
"They were impressive," said Louisiana Lafayette Coach Stefni Lotief.
The winning pitcher, Langenfeld, gave up one hit and struck out three in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
And as for that queasy feeling that had been nagging at the team? It's gone.
"I feel fine now," Langenfeld said.