By Maren Angus
Big League Dreams in Cathedral City, Calif. played host to 85 games and 32 teams including six Women’s College World Series teams, the Japanese National Team and National Pro Fastpitch’s USSSA Pride.
Washington, UCLA, Texas A&M, LSU, Auburn and Cal were six of the seven undefeated programs of the National Fastpitch Coach Association’s Top 25 that played in the 15th annual Mary Nutter Classic. Only Washington and UCLA escaped unscathed.
The No. 1 Washington Huskies were tested but prevailed in a perfect 5-0 weekend. After an 8-0 win against Notre Dame in five innings, the Huskies didn’t score more than four runs in each of their remaining games.
In what could’ve been the best game of the weekend, UW and Texas A&M took a 2-2 tie into the ninth inning but it was Washington’s two runs in the ninth that earned a 4-3 win. The Huskies also beat Nebraska 4-2, Wisconsin 4-1 and Long Beach State 4-0.
In a 2017 WCWS rematch, the UCLA Bruins were out for revenge against the No. 7 LSU Tigers. In the battle of the unbeaten, nine different Bruins recorded a hit in the 9-1 five-inning, run-rule victory. Brianna Tautalafua had two hits and three RBIs while Kylee Perez, Paige Halstead and Briana Perez notched two hits each.
Rachel Garcia struck out 12 in five innings and limited LSU to two hits and one walk. She struck out the side in the first, third and fifth inning. Julie Rodriguez recorded her first career hit and RBI on a single to right in the fifth.
San Jose State
The Spartans played six games last week, five against Power Five schools, all received votes in one of two national polls and three were nationally ranked. Of their six games, the Spartans lost five but don’t let that fool you.
Due to travel plans, SJSU’s game against Oregon on Sunday ended in six innings with the No. 5 Ducks winning 1-0. Desiree Severance held the Ducks to four hits and one earned run in 4.1 innings. Madison Aurin held the Ducks hitless and scoreless in 1.2 innings of relief. Rayohna Sagapolu led the Spartans at the plate going 2-for-2.
On Thursday, the Spartans took No. 12 Auburn into the seventh inning tied at 0-0 before losing 4-0. Prior to the tournament, No. 7 LSU played against SJSU in Stockton and came away with a 4-0 victory.
Long Beach State
The Beach’s Cielo Meza pitched a gem, going the distance and holding the No. 12 Aurburn Tigers to three runs on hits and striking out eight. Taylor Rowland, a Tennessee transfer, was 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Nichole Fry, Jessica Flores and Grayce Majam each had two hits in the contest.
The Cornhuskers started their weekend by handing the No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies their first loss of the season. Tristen Edwards and Kaylan Jablonski collected two RBIs each in the 6-3 win. Olivia Ferrell started in the circle and held the Aggies to one run on five hits in five innings. Jablonski pitched two innings of relief and surrendered two runs on six hits.
Nebraska’s weekend wasn’t easy as it also faced No. 3 UCLA and No. 1 Washington. The ‘Huskers fell 5-0 to the Bruins and 4-2 to the Huskies.
One of two collegiate teams to face the Japanese National Team, the Oklahoma Sooners tied Japan 3- 3 in a Thursday night showdown. Fale Aviu and Lea Wodach each homered in the contest and Parker Conrad made her Sooners debut.
It was against No. 13 Arizona on Saturday that Oklahoma was shutout (2-0) for the first time since Feb. 11, 2017 against Washington. The last time OU lost to a ranked opponent at a neutral site was against then-No. 5 Arizona on March 14, 2017.