PALM SPRINGS, Calif. Playing its third top-25 opponent in the Palm Springs Classic, the No. 10 Oklahoma softball team was unable to get by No. 3 UCLA as it suffered a 2-0 loss on Sunday afternoon in Palm Springs, Calif. The Sooners fell to 13-3-1 on the year while the Bruins pushed their record to 13-1 and a perfect 5-0 in the tournament this weekend. Oklahoma finished with a 4-2 mark in Palm Springs after falling to No. 23 Fresno State Thursday afternoon.
“We certainly don’t enjoy losses, but today really showed us that we can play with anybody in the country,” head coach Patty Gasso said. “We have so much potential with such a young team and we’re excited to continue to grow and mature.”
The top-10 contest was a pitcher’s battle for most of the game as senior Nicole Denes went up against UCLA’s All-American Anjelica Selden.
Denes owned the circle for most of the game as she threw a perfect game through 4.1 innings. With one out in the fifth inning, UCLA’s Jodie Legaspi broke up the perfect game with a double to center field. However, Denes retired the next two batters and the game remained tied at 0--0 heading into the sixth inning.
The Sooners tried to string together a sixth-inning rally as senior Kristin Vesely and junior Amber Spaulding hit back-to-back singles, but Oklahoma was unable to capitalize and finished the sixth inning with two runners left on base.
The Bruins took control in the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff single by Ashley Herrera and was moved over to second by a sacrifice bunt which was followed by an Andrea Duran walk. Krista Colburn’s smashing single to deep center field brought home Herrera and gave the Bruins the 1-0 advantage. Clean up hitter Lisa Dodd walked to give the Bruins another base runner.
With the bases loaded for UCLA, Oklahoma brought in freshman pitcher Morgan Hudsonpillar for relief with one out. The next batter, Emily Zaplatosch, sent a sac fly deep behind first base to score Duran and give UCLA the 2-0 lead.
The Sooners had one last chance in the top of the seventh as the Sooners had two outs when pinch hitter D.J. Mathis reached first on a throwing error. However, Oklahoma ended the inning and the game on a strikeout.
Despite the loss, the Sooners out hit the Bruins, 4-3, but left six runners on base compared to UCLA’s three.
Denes (5-1) took her first loss of the season as she allowed two runs on only three hits in 5.1 innings of work. Hudsonpillar, who came in for relief, gave up not hits in the final two outs of the sixth inning.
“I thought Nicole showed a lot of poise out there today,” Gasso said. “She was our leader out there today. She showed great fight and really sparked us out there.”
UCLA’s Selden was also exceptional in the circle as she struck out 15 Sooners and only allowed four hits.
Oklahoma will return home for game against Oklahoma City University on Thursday, March 2 at 4 p.m. at the OU Softball Complex. The Sooners will remain at home this weekend for its Norman Residence Inn Invitational March 4-5. The three-team Invitational will include Louisiana State and Troy.