The Bruins beat the Bulldogs 7-0 in FS' season opener and won the 2019 National Championship.
After throwing 133 pitches in game 1 en route to her nation-leading 14th shutout of the season, Hailey Dolcini again took the circle for the Bulldogs against the Bruins. The senior pitcher worked her way in and out of jams all afternoon at Easton Stadium.
M1 | 𝙂𝙤 𝙊𝙛𝙛, @haileydolcini 👏👏👏— Fresno State Softball (@FresnoStateSB) May 22, 2021
Dolcini strikes out the side to get out of a bases-loaded situation. 'DOGS ARE UP! #GoDogs | #PrideOfTheValley | Watch on ESPNU | @NCAAsoftball pic.twitter.com/XrLqE1cO2y
The Dogs struggled to find hits against Rachel Garcia, a redshirt senior named to the 2019 US Olympic team, but what looked to be the biggest hit of the game came in the fifth inning. Freshman Avery Lawley (Buchanan HS) doubled off the wall in left field to drive in the game's first run.
Anything can happen in the postseason! @bhs_sports13 grad Avery Lawley with an RBI double off USA Olympic pitcher Rachel Garcia. @FresnoStateSB leads No. 2 Bruins 1-0 in Top6. Hailey Dolcini STILL working she has 5 K’s. A Bulldog parent yelled out they weren’t expecting this 😂 pic.twitter.com/1Esq5Q3A51— Bri Mellon (@BriABC30) May 22, 2021
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Down to their final two outs, the Bruins tied the game thanks to a Garcia RBI single off the wall in right. She then shut down the FS offense to send the game into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, the UCLA offense finally broke through on Dolcini scratching across three more runs. Interim head coach Jodie Cox then pulled Dolcini after 144 pitches, 11 hits and 4 earned runs.
Hailey Dolcini threw 133 pitches in Friday's shutout win over #24 Minnesota.— Stephen Hicks (@StephenABC30) May 22, 2021
Less than 24 hours later her 140th pitch is hit into the gap in right center to give #2 UCLA a 3-1 lead over @FresnoStateSB in extras. @ABC30
The Bruins scored one more off of sophomore Dariana Orme to take a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the 8th. Down to their final two outs, Miranda Rohleder drove in a pair to make it a 5-3 game. It was the first time since June 4, 2019, that Garcia allowed more than one earned run in an outing.
The Dogs then loaded the bases and a fielder's choice scored a run to made it a 5-4 game, but Garcia struck out Julianna Martinez (Clovis West) to end the game.
There are a pair of Central Valley connections to this Bruins team. Bubba Nickles, a Merced native who was named to the US Olympic team in 2019, sat out Saturday's game with an injury. Maya Brady, the daughter of former FS All-American Maureen Brady and niece to NFL quarterback Tom Brady, was named Softball America's Freshman Player of the Year in 2020.
Day two at the NCAA LA Regional! @FresnoStateSB Hailey Dolcini is starting after her two hit shut out last night. Valley ties against the second ranked team in the country. Merced Native Bubba Nickles is out with an injury in the Bruins dugout. @ABC30 #NCAASoftball pic.twitter.com/XyxIBlF5T2— Bri Mellon (@BriABC30) May 22, 2021
The Bruins now advance to the championship game, which will be played Sunday at 3:00 PM, while the Dogs fall to the elimination bracket to take on the winner of Long Beach State and #24 Minnesota later tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 PM on Saturday night.
RELATED: Fresno State softball tops #24 Minnesota in LA Regional
It's FS's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2017. The team won the national championship back in 1998.