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Garcia Gets The Best Of Good, UCLA Wins Game 1

(Photo Courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

LOS ANGELES-- Kate Gordon threw the first punch when she launched her 22nd home run of the season out to left center to give James Madison a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

UCLA fought back and didn’t let up.

“They threw a punch first, and the way that our team responded is probably what makes me most proud,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “We threw a punch back, and we were ready to play, and I think that set a tone of what we’ve been all year.”

The Bruins scored four runs in the third and two more in the fourth to take the first game 6-1.

In a matchup that features two of the three finalists for Player of the Year, it was Rachel Garcia who got the best of Megan Good.

Garcia finished 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs while pitching a complete game, allowing two hits, one run and striking out 12.

“Earlier in the week I was joking around with (Inouye-Perez), and I was like, all right, my goal is (opposite field),” Garcia said. “I said, every hit I’m going to get, I’m going to go (opposite field).”

After Gordon’s home run to jumpstart the Dukes, the lineup struggled to put runners on base. Madison Naujokas had the other hit for JMU in the contest.

“It was great to see Kate put us on the board early with a home run, but we faced a great pitcher tonight in Rachel Garcia and we didn’t do a good of making adjustments in later at-bats,” said JMU head coach Loren LaPorte. “We need to put tonight behind us, come out strong tomorrow and play JMU softball to force a third game.”

Kinsley Washington, who bats in the eight-spot, was the only Bruin to score twice. She finished 1-for-2 with a double and a walk.

“This is what makes UCLA softball so successful. (Washington) can go anywhere in the country, and she’s in the three-spot,” Inouye-Perez said. “She can fill the role of doing whatever it takes for this team, she has speed, she has power, she has short game.”

The Bruins and Dukes return to the field at 5 p.m. with a Women’s College World Series berth on the line.

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