UCLA headlines Judi Garman Softball Classic

FULLERTON, Calif. – The 2024 Judi Garman Classic commenced at Cal State Fullerton on Thursday, Feb. 29, and concluded on March 3. This early-season tournament provided a prime opportunity for top-level matchups in a west-coast venue before the onset of conference play.

The tournament included 11 teams, with the top team being Oregon State who put the finishing touches on an unblemished, 5-0 weekend.

Photo credit: Robert Clarke/News4usonline

The person for whom this prestigious event is named is the esteemed champion and legendary figure, Judi Garman. She helmed the Fullerton Titans from 1980 to 1999, amassing 913 victories and guiding her team to the National Championship title in 1986.

This achievement was secured with a 3-0 victory over Texas A&M in the championship game in Omaha, Nebraska.

Following her retirement in 1999, Garman boasted the highest win total in the history of the sport. Her remarkable career tally of 1,124 victories with 211 wins achieved during her tenure at Golden West College.

She also significant leadership at Golden West, when Garman yielded four consecutive National Junior College Softball Championships for Huntington Beach, with her team clinching the title each season from 1976 to 1979.

The influence she left on the softball community was profound, and this weekend’s iteration of the Judi Garman Classic featured some unforgettable matchups.

On Day One of the Judi Garman Classic, UCLA shined in a matchup against Michigan, where the Bruins won 10-0 in a blowout and fierce performance from freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Terry.

Terry picked up her first mercy-rule shutout victory and sophomore teammate pitcher Taylor Tinsley stated, “She wasn’t just perfect, she was on fire to the max.”

Terry struck out six Wolverines and allowed only four hits. She has now thrown 10.2 consecutive scoreless innings in this tournament, including the most recent one UCLA attended, the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on February 24, 2024.

Photo credit: Robert Clarke/News4usonline

This game put the Wolverines on a “wakeup call” which is what Head Coach Bonnie Tholl stated in a post-game interview after she saw how her team didn’t lock in on stopping easy hits that went through center outfield.

However, this led to a comeback streak for the Wolverines and that started against the Florida Gators the next day. On March 2, the Michigan Wolverines triumphed over the Florida Gators with a resounding 10-2 victory.

The highlight of the game came in the electrifying 3rd inning, where the Wolverines showcased their dominance by scoring an impressive 6 runs. Adding to the spectacle, star pitcher Erin Hoehn not only delivered a stellar performance on the mound but also contributed 3 runs herself during that inning.

Cather/1st Base for the Wolverines, Keke Tholl, commented that Hoehn impacted the team’s focus on how to utilize positivity when looking at each inning down the stretch of the game.

“She holds this team together and the focus has definitely increased this weekend,” Tholl stated. “She improves all of us and I see that the most when working with her on each dynamic pitch she calls on the mark.”

Photo credit: Robert Clarke/News4usonline

Another spotlight matchup was the highly anticipated game on the final day of the tournament which was Oregon State vs Cal State Fullerton.

On the Titan’s home pitch in Fullerton, the Beavers seized the opportunity to capitalize on quick plays. They made a strong start in the first inning when senior Charity Sevaaetasi hit a double to center field which brought junior outfielder Gottlieb home, securing the game’s first run and establishing early momentum for their team.

However, The Titans refused to fade quietly, igniting a surge of energy in the sixth inning with two quick outs that hinted at a potential game-changing moment. In the following inning, they found themselves in a prime position to score three runs with the bases loaded, only to be thwarted by back-to-back strikeouts. This turn of events ultimately solidified the Beavers’ five-game winning streak.

The Judi Garman Classic Tournament is a staple in softball, and Head Coach Bonnie Tholl stated, “It only elevates the talent for each one of these teams. We all love the game and we cherish being a part of something so iconic.”

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