Rachel Garcia found her groove. The two-time Player of the Year had struck out nine of the last 10 Sun Devil batters she faced entering the seventh inning.
That didn’t matter much to Makenna Harper though, as she lifted a ball to left field and saw it carry out of Easton Stadium to tie the game in the seventh inning.
Despite Harper’s best efforts, No. 2 UCLA (16-1, 1-0 Pac-12) came away with the win on Friday.
After a perfect bunt from Briana Perez to start the eighth inning, Aaliyah Jordan lined a ball into the gap and the speedy Perez scored from first to beat No. 11 Arizona State (17-3, 0-1) 2-1 in extra innings.
Garcia dominated in the circle, but the Sun Devils had their chances. Alynah Torres and Alli Tatnall singled back-to-back to start the second inning.
Harper moved them over with a bunt, but Garcia got out of it unscathed. In total, Arizona State went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Garcia tossed all eight innings, she allowed five hits, and struck out 14 batters.
With the dominance of Garcia, Trisha Ford had to be happy about the Pac-12 debuts from Lindsay Lopez and Allison Royalty.
Lopez, who started the game, truly only made one mistake against the veteran and explosive Bruin lineup.
In 3.1 innings of work, Lopez surrendered one run — a hanging pitch that Garcia homered on in the fourth — and three hits. Royalty relieved her, creating more swings and misses to get four strikeouts.
The two teams play a doubleheader on Saturday with only one game counting toward the conference standings. Arizona State’s offense will have another tough task against UCLA’s Megan Faraimo. The first game starts at 1 p.m. local time.