May 30, 2010

By Jonathan Raber
Special to

LOS ANGELES - The bottom of the UCLA lineup may not be viewed as a group of dangerous power threats. But on Sunday, they served notice that they can't be taken lightly.

Kaila Shull broke a tie with a two-run home run in the fourth inning and Samantha Camuso and B.B. Bates added homers an inning later to lift the Bruins to a 10-1 mercy-rule shortened victory in five innings over Louisiana-Lafayette as they swept the best-of-three NCAA Division I softball Super Regionals.

"Postseason becomes really big on how the bottom half of your lineup does," Bruins coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. "We have been able to have power one through nine and even off the bench."

The win put UCLA back in the Women's College World Series after missing out last year. The Bruins are no strangers to the event as their 11 national championships rank first all-time.

UCLA will open the tournament on Thursday against Florida, the last team to defeat them in World Series play in 2008.

The loss ends the Cajuns' season at 45-18, falling in the Super Regionals for the second consecutive season.

"They don't have anything to be sad about," Louisiana coach Stefni Lotief said. "It's been a pretty good year for everything we've had to overcome."

UCLA, which secured a 10-2 mercy-rule win in Saturday's opener, again brought their big bats in eliminating the Cajuns.

After putting up seven runs in the second inning on Saturday, the Bruins achieved the same feat in the fifth a day later.

"Bruins step up in big-time moments," Inouye-Perez said. "It's really exciting to see."

Camuso, batting sixth, belted a grand slam for her seventh run batted in of the series, and Bates connected for a two-run shot from the No. 9 spot to open the nine-run advantage.

Dani Yuden had started the scoring in the inning with a bases-loaded single to bring Camuso to the plate in a dangerous spot. The sophomore outfielder delivered as she hit her 13th homer of the season, and second in as many days, to straightway center.

"That really got us going," Camuso said. "We just put it to them after that."

Bates' shot was icing on the cake as the Bruins worked through the bottom of the fifth with relief pitcher Megan Langenfeld inducing a groundout from Melissa Verde to seal the win, which set a school record as the team's 20th mercy-shorten win of the season.

Langenfeld had a fine all-around performance, picking up the victory in relief and reaching base three times with a pair of hits and a walk.

The senior right-hander replaced starter Donna Kerr with one away in the third after the Cajuns had scored their lone run. Langenfeld worked the remaining 2 2/3 innings and allowed just one hit.

"They kept us guessing and we didn't have our best at the plate," said Cajuns catcher Lana Bowers, who notched one of her squad's four hits.

Shull had rallied the Bruins in the fourth with two outs, belting her sixth homer of the season off starter Brittany Cuevas on a no-doubter to right field to make it 3-1.

"I wasn't trying to do anything special," Shull said. "I saw a good pitch and put a good swing on it."

The Bruins scratched across a run in the first inning for the early 1-0 advantage. Monica Harrison doubled with one out and moved to second on a walk to Langenfeld. Following a flyout, Yudin drove the first pitch back up the middle to plate Harrison.

The Cajuns took advantage of some aggressive base-running and an error to get on the board in the third. Erikka Murphy reached on an infield single and promptly stole second on a close play.

Two batters later, Verde bounced a ball through the legs of GiOnna DiSalvatore for an error that allowed Murphy to come home for the 1-1 tie.

But that would stand as the Cajuns last offensive threat.