The Dolphins (44-16), who downed Bethune-Cookman earlier in the day, trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning before a two-run single by sophomore Olivia Kline to give JU a 3-2 advantage.
GiOnna DiSalvatore hit a two-run homer for the Bruins (35-18) in the fourth inning to start the comeback, while UCLA scored four runs with two outs in the fifth inning to keep JU at bay.
“This is a tough way to go out,” said JU head coach Amanda Lehotak. “UCLA is a strong team and they proved that today.
“Overall, I’m proud of the way our kids played today and this year. This is what we have worked for to do for more than five seasons so it was a fun the fruits of our labor. Our seniors are the reason we are here in the NCAA Tournament and I wish them nothing but the best as they moved forward.”
UCLA starter Donna Kerr (14-9) earned her second win against the Dolphins after allowing three unearned runs on two hits and two strikeouts in four innings. DiSalvatore and Andrea Harrison each finished with four RBI pace the Bruin offense.
Junior Sarah Sigrest (27-7) took the loss, allowing four runs on 10 hits and a strikeout in 3.2 innings. Kline and senior Jackie Samuels each logged an inning plus of relief.
Offensively, junior Kayla Ouellet had a triple and scored twice for JU, while senior Katie Kelly and senior Annike Don each scored a run.
The Bruins took a 2-0 lead in the third inning as Harrison got to Sigrest again for the second straight day with a one-out, two-run home run over the right field fence.
B.B. Bates and Kellie Fox each followed with singles for the Bruins, while Samantha Camuso walked to load the bases. Freshman Karson Tuck caught a line drive at second and threw out Bates leaning to far at third to avoid any more UCLA runs.
In the bottom of the third inning, Kelly walked for JU and reached second by beating the throw on a bunt attempt by Balding. Junior Brittany Eppley moved both runners up a base on a sacrifice bunt and Ouellet reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Junior Amanda Schmidt hit a ground ball back to Kerr, but she threw it high to home which allowed Kelly to score for JU’s first run. After a pop out, Kline laced a single through the left side to score two runs to give JU a 3-2 advantage.
JU’s lead would be short lived as DiSavtore hit a two-run homer to center off Sigrest to put UCLA up by a run, 4-3.
With two outs in the fifth inning, the Bruins had three straight RBI hits and plated a run on a wild pitch to take an 8-3 lead.
Ouellet tripled with one out in the fifth inning and scored on a sacrifice fly from Schmidt, but the Bruins tacked on two more runs in the sixth to quash any comeback.
Despite the loss, the 2011 season will be one of the best campaigns in JU’s short history.
The Dolphins put together a 15-game winning streak at the end of the schedule to win the A-Sun regular season and tournament titles. They also set a new program records in wins (44) and home victories (22).
JU was ranked in the top three in the nation in ERA and finished with the second-highest biggest average along with way.
With the success, Lehotak earned A-Sun “Coach of the Year,” while Sigrest received “Pitcher of the Year” accolades. Sigrest also earned first team all-conference honors along with Schmidt, Kline and sophomore Sarah Simon. Kelly earned second team all-conference honors, while Jacey Warner made the all-freshman team.
The contest marked the final game for the senior class of Kelly, Samuels, Don, Brie Carmack and Katarina Engler. The group leaves JU with more than a 100 wins under its belts, while Kelly set program records for hits, RBI, doubles, at-bats and total bases wearing the green and gold.