Victory over UCLA brings Cardinal and Canada into the semifinals

OKLAHOMA CITY – Stanford is the last remaining team within the Pac-12.

NiJaree Canady recorded eight strikeouts and walked the remainder of the best way because the Cardinal defeated UCLA 3-1 on Sunday night, reaching the semifinals of the Women's College World Series and eliminating the Bruins.

Stanford won the last game between the Pac-12 teams before the league split. UCLA might be within the Big Ten next season, while Stanford joins the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Canady said the standard of the ultimate was appropriate.

“I think what made it even more special was that it was just a really good game on both sides, just to show once again the power that Pac-12 softball has,” she said. “It was really cool that it was a really good game.”

Canady allowed just three hits and no walks for the eighth-seeded Cardinals (50-16), who reached the semifinals for the second 12 months in a row.

“They're tough,” said UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “NiJaree is tough. They showed up tonight and performed. I wish them the best because they're the last in the Pac.”

Megan Grant’s solo home run was the highlight for No. 6 UCLA (43-12).

UCLA won all three regular season matches.

“Our series against UCLA during the regular season was kind of a turning point in our season where we didn't play the way we wanted to play,” Stanford coach Jessica Allister said. “It felt like we got punched in the gut. From there, we had to fight our way back. I think as far as the season went, that was probably the lowest point of our season.”

The Cardinal improved their record in elimination games this season to 5-0.

Stanford will play No. 1 Texas within the semifinals on Monday. The Cardinal have to win twice to advance to the best-of-three championship series, while Texas needs only one win to advance.

Canady, the nation's top college softball player, beat Oklahoma State on Friday but injured her leg on a pitch late in the sport, leaving her status uncertain.

She was greater than ready. She threw strikes on 71 of her 97 pitches.

Grant's solo shot within the second period opened the scoring.

Stanford helped Canada rating just a few runs within the third. Taryn Kern's RBI double tied the sport, then Kern scored on an Ava Gall single to present the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.

Stanford got back-to-back bunt singles from Emily Jones and Kaitlyn Kim at the underside of the batting order to start out the fifth. Pinch hitter Allie Clements' sacrifice fly brought Jones home to make it 3-1.

On her last strike, UCLA's Savannah Pola was hit within the hand by a pitch, then Thessa Malau'ulu singled to place two players on base with two outs. Canady grounded out pinch hitter Ramsey Suarez.

Now Stanford is popping its focus to Texas.

“They're good in all three phases of the game,” Allister said. “They can pitch, hit and defend. A great pitching staff with a lot of variety. They've put together a strong, competitive ball club. There's a reason they were No. 1. We've got to play good softball tomorrow.”


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