UCLA does it again at NCAA World Series
By Susan L. Slocum
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - In a repeat NCAA World Series championship, UCLA overpowered Cal to take home the crown for the second year in a row. Kristen Dedmon, the 19-year-old freshman hit the two-run single to take the lead and title on May 24th. It was the Bruins 10th NCAA championship and the first team since 1997 to win back-to-back titles. Claire Sua had hit a home run to tie the game earlier in the inning. Keira Goerl, the UCLA senior, is only the third pitcher to win back-to-back titles, although she allowed seven hits in the match-up, after pitching a no-hitter against Cal last year in the championship game.
The World Series began with eight teams including Oklahoma, Louisiana State, Florida State, Stanford, Washington, Michigan, Cal and UCLA. The number one ranked team, the Arizona Wildcats, was ousted in the first round of the Regional Playoff, losing 3-2, to the University of Oklahoma. In the first round of play, UCLA beat Stanford 8-2, with Keira Goerl striking out seven batters and Lisa Dodd going 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and a double. LSU defeated Michigan in a 3-2-marathon victory that went 13 innings. Cal's first round win came against Florida State, when junior 2B Jessica Pamanian hit a two-run triple to give Cal the final 4-2 lead. Oklahoma defeated Washington 6-2 in their first round game.
In the second round of play, UCLA had a four-hit shutout, defeating LSU 2-0. Cal took eight innings to beat Oklahoma, winning on an error that brought the final score to 2-1. In the loser's bracket, Florida State defeated Washington 2-0 and Stanford defeated Michigan in a tight 5-4 victory.
Severe thunderstorms postponed third round play, interrupting the Stanford v Oklahoma game in the 6th inning with the Sooners leading 2-1. When the game was resumed the following day, junior Meghan Sickler hit the single that brought in the winning run for Stanford. The final score was 3-2. The LSU Tiger's defeated Florida State 2-1 when LSU's Kristin Schmidt struck out 13 batters.
In the fourth round, UCLA faced Stanford in a 12-inning drama that took nearly 4 hours to complete. Caitlin Benyi opened the game with a lead-off home run and Lisa Dodd provided an RBI in the 12th and followed it in with a run off of Stephanie Ramos's single giving UCLA a 3-1 win. In a double header, LSU beat Cal 4-1, only to lose in a rematch 1-4 in their semifinal game the same day. This second game victory provided Cal with a place in the championship game.
The final game of the series included the 2002 champions versus the 2003 champions. On May 31, fans across the country watched a replay of last year's championship game on ESPN. Last year UCLA pitched a no-hitter, winning 1-0 and capturing the crown. This year, UCLA had a tougher opponent. The Bears dominated the game from the beginning, with two hits and a run in the first inning off a single by Jessica Pamanian. UCLA went without a hit until the 5th inning, when they scored three runs, a home run by Claire Sua and two runs off a single by Kristen Dedmond. Cal had a total of seven hits for the day, but couldn't turn any of them around for the win.
Early in the month, Caitlin Benyi from UCLA was named first-team NFCA Louisville Slugger All-American along with Vicky Galindo from Cal. Overall Cal had the most All-American nominees of any school, totaling an additional two second team and one third team nominations.