UCLA rallies to beat Florida State in WCWS

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kylee Perez doesn’t usually swing for the fences. She did on Thursday night, and it paid off for UCLA.

The senior hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to help the Bruins rally past Florida State 7-4 in the Women’s College World Series.

Perez’s homer gave the Bruins a 5-4 lead.

”I’ve been here (at the World Series) for the past three years,” she said. ”So, I mean, I’m not going down looking. I’m not going down without a bang. I was doing my best. Honestly, I was going for it. I don’t do that much. I’m more trying just to get base hits. I was going for it.”

Perez’s blast gave the Bruins all the momentum they needed.

”We have a little saying, things we focus on being able to be in the moment,” UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. ”And they knew. They knew they could rally back. They have each other’s backs. There’s a strong belief.”

UCLA’s Rachel Garcia, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, pitched a complete game to earn the win. She gave up four hits and struck out 15.

Garcia held Florida State hitless through four innings before the Seminoles broke through in the fifth. Cali Harrod walked, stole second, moved to third on a throwing error and scored on a single by Dani Morgan. Later in the inning, Sydney Sherrill sent a hard shot in the air toward the left-field line with the bases loaded. UCLA left fielder Kinsley Washington misplayed the ball, and three Seminoles scored on the double to make it 4-0.

”I don’t know if you could have scripted it any better for our hitters to come out and score some runs against one of the best pitchers in the country,” Florida State coach Lonni Alameda said. ”She was flinging it tonight, (Rachel) Garcia was, and we got after her.”

Perez’s homer highlighted a six-run inning that gave the Bruins the lead for good.

”I think Kylee does an outstanding job of just keeping the team very loose, and being able to back it up and come up with that big three-run home run,” Inouye-Perez said. ”But if you felt the energy in the dugout, there was never any doubt. And we had time.”

UCLA advanced and will play Florida on Friday.

”They’re going to throw punches,” Inouye-Perez said. ”We’re going to throw punches. But I’m really excited about that. That’s what we’re here for. But it’s really not about who we play. I have a strong belief that if we play our game, then great things can happen. So I look forward to it. I look forward to being in the winner’s bracket and getting after a game tomorrow night.”

Florida State will play Georgia on Saturday in an elimination game.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

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