UCLA beats Florida to advance to WCWS semifinals

OKLAHOMA CITY — UCLA pitcher Holly Azevedo said her teammates created a “chilling moment” by pouring water on her after Sunday’s win.

She was pretty cool during the game too. She threw a two-hit shutout and the fifth-seeded Bruins beat No. 14 Florida 8-0 in six innings on Sunday to reach the Women’s College World Series semifinals and eliminate the Gators.

Azevedo (21-2) threw just 88 shots, struck out two and walked one.

“I couldn’t do it without the people behind me,” she said. “Our defense was really, really on point today, and obviously we had a really good outing with the offense.”

Kelli Godin, Maya Brady and Briana Perez each had two hits for the Bruins.

UCLA (50-9) takes on No. 1 seed Oklahoma in the semifinals today and will need to beat the defending champion Sooners twice to reach the best of three championships. The teams met in the Championship Series in 2019, with UCLA winning both games to claim the title. Oklahoma beat UCLA in an elimination game last year.

UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez isn’t worried that Oklahoma leads the nation in runs, hits and ERA.

“We need to be able to go out and play our game at the end of the day, and if we do, then it’s going to be a great softball day,” she said. “That’s all we’re focusing on right now.”

Florida (49-19) won its opener Thursday against Oregon State, but the Gators did not score in a loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday.

The struggles continued against UCLA.

“I think there were a lot of hits we had that were hit hard, but that was just for the people,” Florida’s Cheyenne Lindsey said. “You can’t really control where the ball goes, only your contact. I think that was a big part of it.”

Elizabeth Hightower (17-9) lost to the Gators after allowing two runs on three hits in 3 1/3 innings. Florida was the only SEC team in the World Series field.

UCLA opened the scoring late in the second when Godin scored Savannah Pola.

UCLA looked like it could add some points in the third. With one over and two outs, Alyssa Garcia raised a deep to left field. Katie Kistler of Florida jumped against the wall and hooked it over the fence to end the round.

The Bruins had runners in the corners with one out in the fourth when Florida shortstop Skylar Wallace — a second-team NFCA All-American — erred on a ground fly that allowed Pola to score .

Wallace failed to find another ground ball later in the set. Briana Perez’s touch was ruled a single and two runs scored to make it 4-0.

A Brady single in the sixth hit a two-run and gave UCLA a 6-0 lead. Pola then scored a single and scored two more to end the game.

Inouye-Perez said the Bruins figured things out as the game progressed.

“These Florida pitchers were throwing nasty stuff, and the strike zone started to look a little different,” she said. “You know, it was just a little bit different, so we had to make an adjustment. Super proud.”

UCLA’s Savannah Pola (5) celebrates after a hit to win the game against Florida during an NCAA Women’s College World Series softball game on Sunday June 5, 2022 in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Photo UCLA’s Savannah Pola (5) takes a bat in the sixth inning of an NCAA Women’s Softball College World Series game against Florida on Sunday June 5, 2022 in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Photo Florida outfielder Cheyenne Lindsey (2) slides safely to second base before UCLA infielder Briana Perez (3) can make the tag during the fifth inning of an NCAA softball game Women’s College World Series on Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Photo Florida’s Natalie Lugo (10) throws in the fifth inning of an NCAA Women’s College World Series softball game against UCLA on Sunday June 5, 2022 in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Photo Florida’s Cheyenne Lindsey (2) celebrates after reaching second base before UCLA infielder Briana Perez (3) can score in the fifth inning of an NCAA Women’s College World Series softball game on Sunday, June 5, 2022 in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Photo UCLA’s Megan Faraimo (8) prepares to hit Florida in the second inning of an NCAA Women’s College Softball World Series game on Sunday June 5, 2022 in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Photo UCLA’s Savannah Pola (5) celebrates after scoring a run in the fourth inning of an NCAA Women’s College World Series softball game against Florida on Sunday June 5, 2022 in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Photo UCLA’s Holly Azevedo (4) pitches the first inning of an NCAA Women’s College Softball World Series game against Florida on Sunday, June 5, 2022 in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

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