The Nevada softball team's quest for an NCAA Regional championship fell short on Sunday as the Wolf Pack fell 4-3 in the title game to UCLA at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles.
The loss ends Nevada's season at 44-18. UCLA advanced to the NCAA Super Regional with the win.
The Wolf Pack led 3-2 at one point in the game and the contest was tied at 3 going into the sixth inning.
Nevada trailed 1-0, but came back to take a 2-1 lead in the third inning. Singles by Kym Silagyi and Noelle Micka put runners on the corners with two outs. Douglas High graduate Brittany Puzey delivered a double to the gap to score both runners and give Nevada the lead.
UCLA got the runs back in the bottom of the third, though the damage could have been worse. The Bruins got two runs quickly and chased Nevada starter Jordan McPherson. Richelle Villescas came on and stabilized the game, however. UCLA had the bases loaded with just one out and two runs in but Villescas got Monica Harrison to pop out to first and then induced a groundball from Jenny Schroeder to get out of the inning.
Nevada came back in the fifth to manufacture a run to tie the game. Nevada did not hit the ball out of the infield as Silagyi singled to first and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from pinch hitter Katie Stith. Silagyi went to third on pinch hitter Michelle Beach's groundout to third and then Micka scored Silagyi with an infield single to shortstop.
But Samantha Camuso led off the sixth with a home run off Villescas and that gave the Bruins the 4-3 lead.
Nevada stayed alive in the tournament with a 2-1 win over Purdue late Saturday night. Sophomore Katie Holverson tossed a three-hitter for five innings and earned the win. She moved her record to 22-6 and tied the school single-season record for victories (Jordan McPherson had 22 in 2006). She struck out seven and walked three in tossing five shutout frames.
Richelle Villescas came on for the final two innings to earn her first career save. She gave up a single run in the seventh inning but preserved the victory or Nevada, which advance to its first-ever NCAA Regional championship.
Freshman Noelle Micka collected two hits while Sam Bias and Kelsey Starr each drove in a run for the Wolf Pack.
The game was a scoreless when Nevada finally broke through in the fifth inning. Micka led off with a double and then Puzey singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Vanessa Briones then hit a ground ball to second and Micka was thrown out at the plate. After Britton Murdock walked to load the bases, Bias lifted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Puzey and gave Nevada a 1-0 lead. Kelsey Starr followed with a single to right field that scored Briones for a 2-0 Wolf Pack advantage.
San Jose State finished off a four-game sweep of Nevada, overcoming a 7-4 deficit to beat the Wolf Pack 8-7 on Sunday at San Jose's Municipal Stadium.
Nevada (31-24, 18-14 in the Western Athletic Conference finished as the WAC's No. 3 seed and will open the WAC Tournament at 5 p.m. Thursday against the No. 4 seed Spartans (31-23, 17-14) in Ruston, La.
Consecutive singles by Dayton's Matt Bowman, Jason Rodriguez and Shaun Kort gave Nevada a 1-0 lead in the first. The Wolf Pack went up 3-0 in the second as Kevin Rodland doubled and former Western Nevada College standout Tyson Jaquez scored Rodland with a double. Jaquez eventually scored on a fielder's choice.
The Spartans sent nine hitters to the plate to take a 4-3 lead in the fifth. But Nevada responded with four runs in the sixth to take a 7-4 lead.
With two outs, back-to-back doubles by Jaquez and Brian Lloyd tied the game. Sadoian followed with an RBI single and after Bowman walked, Rodriguez followed with a two-run triple that made it 7-4.
But relief pitcher Chris Garcia ran into trouble after making a costly error in the bottom of the sixth. After retiring the first two batters, Garcia should have been out of the inning after inducing a comebacker, but he threw the ball away. The next four Spartans then singled to score four runs, giving San Jose State an 8-7 lead.
Rodriguez and Jaquez led Nevada with three hits while Bowman added two hits.