UCLA eliminates Florida at WCWS, faces Oklahoma on Monday

Holly Azevedo’s two-hit shutout on Sunday secured UCLA’s spot in the national semifinal with an 8-0, six-inning victory against No. 14 Florida.

The redshirt senior gave up just one walk and struck out two in her first career World Series start as the No. 5-seeded Bruins (50-9) advanced to face top-ranked Oklahoma on Monday at 10 a.m. PDT at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.

The Bruins must knock off the Sooners twice Monday to punch their ticket to the championship series, which begins Wednesday.

UCLA lost to Oklahoma 4-1 on Feb. 12 during the first weekend of the season, one of just eight games this season the dominant Sooners have scored less than five runs. Azevedo started the game and gave up one run in 1 2/3 innings. Lauren Shaw came on in relief, giving up two runs. Monday’s matchup will likely feature Megan Faraimo in the circle. The redshirt junior who started UCLA’s first two World Series games went 3 1/3 innings against the Sooners in February with three hits and one unearned run with five strikeouts.

The early season matchup came before the Sooners (56-2) asserted themselves as possibly the best college softball team in history. They’ve won a whopping 39 of their 58 games by run rule and lead the nation in most significant offensive categories, including batting average (.370), home runs per game (2.45) and scoring (9.22 runs per game).

What separates this year’s No. 1 ranked team from even last year’s national championship is its pitching. The Sooners lead the country with a 0.86 ERA. With three of the top five pitchers in the country, based on ERA, Oklahoma is on pace to have the lowest ERA for a team since Texas’ 0.81 in 2006.

Yet the Bruins have their own top-notch staff.

Faraimo and Azevedo, UCLA’s first pair of 20-win pitchers since 2002, are the first different UCLA pitchers to each win a game in the same World Series since Megan Langenfeld and Aleah Macon in 2010. UCLA won the national championship that season.

Azevedo rebounded from her shaky performance in the opener, during which she gave up three runs and five hits in relief against Texas. She also got plenty of offensive help Sunday, led by two RBIs each from shortstop Briana Perez, centerfielder Maya Brady and freshman Savannah Pola. Pola’s two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning ended the game early as the Bruins went ahead by eight runs, four of which came in the sixth.

UCLA’s eight runs were the most scored by the Bruins in the World Series since they exploded for 16 against Oklahoma in 2019. The following day, UCLA claimed the NCAA title.

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