Washington’s Ali Aguilar knew pitcher Taran Alvero needed help.
After talking to Alvero, Aguilar cranked a deep homer in the sixth inning. Alvelo took it from there, finishing off a two-hitter in Washington’s 1-0 victory over UCLA on Saturday night in a Women’s College World Series elimination game in Oklahoma City.
“I knew Taran had been throwing lights out and she’d been going all game, and so I went up to her, and I was like, ‘I got your back,’ ” Aguilar said. “I was really just trying to get a base hit and get on base for her, and ended up going out, so it worked well.”
UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said she won’t miss Aguilar, a senior shortstop who is a member of Team USA.
“We’ve got to credit Washington, and I can say one thing – I’m glad Ali Aguilar is graduating, because she is a phenomenal hitter,” Inouye-Perez said.
Alvelo (34-8), a sophomore, struck out seven and walked three to claim the win. Washington (50-13) will play No. 1 seed Florida on Sunday. The Huskies will have to beat the Gators twice to reach the championship series.
Alvelo, who threw 101 pitches against UCLA, knows Sunday might be a long day.
“We’re going to have to do at this point what we have to do,” she said. “Everybody has to be all in. I believe in every single person on this team to make tomorrow happen. I think, yeah, I could (pitch two games), but I also know that the other pitchers on our pitching staff are just as capable to really take care of business tomorrow.”
UCLA freshman Rachel Garcia (23-9) gave up just five hits and one walk and struck out seven.
UCLA played the game without assistant coach Lisa Fernandez. The three-time USA Olympic gold medalist pitcher was suspended two games for bumping into the home-plate umpire while arguing a no-call during the Bruins’ win over Texas A&M earlier in the day. She sat in the stands during the game against Washington, occasionally posing with fans and signing autographs.
Fernandez will be suspended for the first game next season. Inouye-Perez said she didn’t believe the situation had a negative effect on her team.
“No memory, no imagination,” she said. “We kind of came in there with this thought. We cannot focus on the past, we cannot look at the future, we’ve got to live in the moment.”
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