Ole Miss runs out of magic against UCLA

Published 11:49 pm Friday, May 26, 2017

LOS ANGELES — Ole Miss got plenty of runners on base, and plenty of scoring chances in Game 2 of its NCAA softball super regional Friday against UCLA.

It never cashed in any of them, and as a result it was cashed out of the NCAA Tournament.

The Rebels went 0-for-16 with runners on base, and were eliminated from the tournament with a 1-0 loss to No. 5 seed UCLA.

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UCLA (47-13) swept the best-of-three super regional — it won Game 1 8-7 in 11 innings on Thursday — and advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the third consecutive season.

The Bruins will face either Florida State or LSU in their opener in Oklahoma City.

Ole Miss (43-20) had its remarkable postseason run come to an end. After entering the Southeastern Conference Tournament as the No. 8 seed, the Rebels won seven consecutive games to win their first conference title and reach the super regional round for the first time.

The Rebels let both games against UCLA slip away, however. They twice lost the lead in Game 1 when UCLA was down to its final out, and then in Game 2 could never get a timely hit.

Ole Miss had runners on base in every inning except the seventh, but stranded seven of them. UCLA pitchers Rachel Garcia and Selina Ta’amilo combined for nine strikeouts.

Ole Miss left 19 runners on base in the series and lost both games by one run.

The lack of hitting spoiled an outstanding performance in the pitcher’s circle by Brittany Finney.

Making her first start in nearly three weeks, the sophomore right-hander allowed only one run, on four hits and a walk, in seven innings. She struck out five batters.

Finney was filling in for Kaitlin Lee, who had thrown every pitch of the Rebels’ first eight postseason games. Lee threw 191 pitches in Thursday’s Game 1.

UCLA’s only run came in the top of the first inning. Brianna Tautalafua hit a two-out double down the left field line, and Madeline Jelenicki — who had the game-winning hit in Game 1 — drove her in with a single.

Finney retired the next six batters and didn’t allow another runner past second base the rest of the game.