Bob Drebin /

Bouncing the Bruins

OKLAHOMA CITY — Sunday night marked the official end of an era in college sports with the final matchup of active Pac-12 softball foes. Stanford softball took on UCLA with a spot in the national semifinals on the line. Timely hitting and a dominant pitching performance propelled the Cardinal to a 3-1 win over the Bruins, advancing to the national semifinals for the second consecutive season.

"It was an excellent game of softball. Great seven innings. I thought NiJaree [Canady] was absolutely phenomenal. Then obviously Ava [Gall], Taryn [Kern] putting good swings on good pitches," said Paul A. Violich Director of Softball Jessica Allister. "Coming back from a deficit. Getting a third run was really important. Really bouncing back after having a tough series against UCLA at our place in the regular season. Coming out and competing the way we competed today."
Stanford claimed the lead in the bottom of the third and took advantage of two UCLA pitchers. Emily Jones opened the inning with a single and with one away, she raced all the way home on a Taryn Kern run-scoring double to the gap in left center. The team leader in slugging percentage tied the game with her 32nd RBI of the season, which chased UCLA starter Kaitlyn Terry.
Taylor Tinsley did not allow a run to the Cardinal during the regular season and the Bruins brought her on with the score tied in the third. Ava Gall continued to swing a hot bat by singling to right field to score Kern and put Stanford up 2-1. For Gall, she has recorded hits in all three Women's College World Series games with three RBI recorded in Oklahoma.
Small ball got an added run on the board for Stanford in the fifth. Jones and Kaitlyn Lim opened the inning with bunt singles, and after a Kern groundout advanced both runners, Allie Clements brought home Jones on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to left field. It capped off a 2-for-2 with two runs scored performance for Jones, who has three hits over the last two games.
With a day of rest on Saturday, NiJaree Canady was recharged and at her best against the Bruins. She came out firing in the first inning with a pair of strikeouts and that set the tone for her evening. Canady built off her performance in the elimination game against Oklahoma State with an eight-strikeout performance, holding the potent UCLA lineup to just three hits. Canady also failed to allow a walk for the first time since her regional round win against Cal State Fullerton.
UCLA got on the board first in a battle of two of the best pitchers in the Pac-12, with Megan Grant leading off the top of the second. She took the second pitch of the inning and sent it off the very top of the wall in left field for a solo home run. It was the first time that Canady allowed a home run to a hitter during the first time through the lineup in her collegiate career.
The game got interesting in the top of the seventh, when the Bruins ended a run of 12-straight outs against Canady. Down to their last out, the Savannah Pola was hit by a pinch, and she was followed by Thessa Malau'ulu, who singled up the middle to put the tying run on base. Ramsey Suarez
Part of Canady's dominance can be attributed to her success against Pac-12 Player of the Year, Maya Brady. In three games against Canady in 2024, Brady went 0-10 with seven strikeouts, including three strikeouts on Sunday night.

"That's a good team. I couldn't be prouder of the way we competed today," said Allister. "Just really proud."
The win for Stanford ended a seven-game losing streaking against UCLA, with the program's first win against UCLA since April 10, 2022. It also is 50th win of the season for the Cardinal, the second time that Stanford has reached 50 wins in a single season and the first time since 2001.
By virtue of beating UCLA, Stanford has set up a rematch against top-seeded Texas on Monday night in the semifinals. The difference time around is that Stanford will need to beat the Longhorns twice Monday night if they hope to advance to the championship series. First pitch of game one between Stanford and Texas is scheduled for 4:00 pm PT on ESPN2. Stanford dropped its first game against Texas 4-0 on Thursday night, but split the regular-season series with the Longhorns including a win in Austin.