OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Andrea Harrison hit a grand slam, Megan Langenfeld homered for the third time in two games and UCLA put on a record-setting offensive show to beat Arizona 15-9 Tuesday night and win its 11th Women’s College World Series title.
Stacie Chambers went deep twice and Lini Koria hit a solo shot for Arizona (52-14) as the teams combined to set a World Series record with seven long balls in the game. Ten of the 29 previous World Series didn’t have that many home runs during the entire event. Story continues below ?advertisement | your ad here
But in this new offensive era, the championship trophy is headed back to a familiar place.
It’s the first title for UCLA since the program won back-to-back trophies in 2003-04, and the first won by fourth-year coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. She won three NCAA championships as a catcher for the Bruins between 1989 and 1992.
A 12th title for the Bruins, won in 1995, was later vacated due to NCAA rules infractions.
Wearing black armbands with the initials of late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden and a school flag flying at half-staff in center field, the fifth-seeded Bruins batted around in the second and fifth innings while setting a championship-round record for scoring. Just days earlier, they set a World Series record by scoring 16 runs in their opening game.
The 24 runs scored in the game were five more than in any previous World Series game.
Langenfeld was unanimously voted the event’s Most Outstanding Player after going 12 for 17 with four home runs and nine RBIs. She reached base in 18 of her 23 plate appearances, also drawing four walks and getting hit by a pitch twice. The national player of the year finalist was the winning pitcher in UCLA’s first three wins at the World Series and hit the winning home run in the eighth inning of UCLA’s 6-5 victory against Arizona in Game 1 of the finals.
After that thrilling opener to the best-of-three series a night earlier, the Bruins took much of the drama out of the clincher early.
Mike Candrea — who has won eight national championships as Arizona’s coach — had indicated he wouldn’t let Langenfeld have the chance to do damage after she homered twice during Game 1, but he relented with a runner on first in the first inning.
Langenfeld made the Wildcats pay with an opposite-field shot to left for an early 2-0 lead.
When Candrea decided to pitch around her, it didn’t work either. Langenfeld was walked with first base open to load the bases in the second, and Harrison powered her 17th home run of the season into the right-field bleachers to make it 6-0.
The duo each hit a World Series-record four home runs as UCLA smashed the team record by hitting 14 over the course of the event. A total of 35 homers went out of the park in the 15 World Series games, breaking the record of 28 set last year.
All those long balls came despite the decision to move the walls in right and left field back from 190 to 200 feet and make them 2 feet taller, an attempt to counter some of the power brought into the game by composite-barreled bats.
Burney hit a line-drive, three-run shot to straightaway center in a seven-run fifth inning for the Bruins, as they responded immediately after Arizona threatened to make a comeback.
UCLA was concerned enough that Langenfeld was pulled from first base and sent to the bullpen after Aleah Macon (13-1) allowed a three-run rally by the Wildcats in the fourth inning. While Langenfeld warmed up, Macon retired the side in order to get out of the jam.
Langenfeld then smashed a one-hop single off the left leg of reliever Sarah Akamine, and the next nine UCLA batters also reached base to widen the gap to 14-4.
Kenzie Fowler (38-9), who won four straight elimination games over two days to get the Wildcats into the finals, came out after she hit B.B. Bates in the helmet with a pitch to open the second inning. By that point, the freshman had thrown 706 pitches in a week.