Missouri slugged its way into the lead Saturday with third-inning home runs by sophomore Natalie Fleming and junior Sami Fagan during NCAA super regional action at UCLA.
But the seventh-seeded Bruins didn’t panic, rallying from a three-run hole for a 7-4 victory in the opening game of the best-of-three set.
UCLA, 49-10, broke on top thanks to a RBI single by senior Ally Carda in the first inning.
The 10th-seeded Tigers, 42-15, pounded Carda for four hits and powered into the lead two innings later when Fleming led off with a solo bomb to left field and Fagan followed three batters later for a three-run shot to right-center.
A 4-1 lead wasn’t safe.
Missouri freshman left-hander Paige Lowary quickly got two outs in the bottom of the third, but the next four Bruins reached safely with senior Stephany LaRose delivering an RBI single and freshman Maddy Jelenicki knotting the game with a two-run double.
Lowary gave up a leadoff home run in the fourth to junior Mysha Sataraka as Carda settled in and shut out Missouri during the final four innings.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, Tigers sophomore Tori Finucane replaced Lowary, who took the loss after she allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings.
Finucane, who allowed one unearned run on one hit and five walks in 2 1/3 innings, promptly walked in a run and walked in another run in the fifth as the Bruins pulled away.
Carda was terrific outside of the third inning and earned the win for the Bruins. Carda allowed four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks in a complete game.
Missouri must win two games Sunday to reach the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2011. The series resumes at 2 p.m. on ESPNU.