Delanie Wisz helps push UCLA past Duke and into the Women’s College World Series

Delanie Wisz left Saturday’s game with a different uniform than the one her UCLA teammates were wearing. She earned that sticky, dark blue fabric.

Wisz led the fifth-seeded Bruins to their seventh consecutive Women’s College World Series appearance on Saturday with two hits and three RBIs in an 8-2 super regional win over No. 12 seed Duke at Easton Stadium. The Bruins (47-9) will travel to Oklahoma City to begin the World Series on Thursday.

The third baseman/catcher is eight-for-16 in the postseason with 12 RBIs and caught three runners stealing but saved her best for Saturday’s critical game. She brought home the go-ahead run in the fourth with a double off the centerfield fence, caught Duke’s Rachel Crabtree stealing to end the sixth, then busted the game open in the seventh three-run double that opened the floodgates for a five-run inning.

The bucket of blue Powerade her teammates dumped on her during an on-camera interview with ESPN was a well-deserved reward.

“The girl is on fire,” said coach Kelly Inouye-Perez, who wrapped Wisz in a sticky hug after postgame interviews. “She epitomizes being clutch under pressure.”

After throwing 106 pitches, striking out 10 and driving in the game-winning runs on Friday, pitcher Megan Faraimo earned her seventh save of the year with three scoreless innings, fanning seven, including the game-ending strikeout. After Duke’s Kavel Jameson swung through the last pitch, Wisz spiked the ball to the ground and ran into Faraimo’s arms.

“Just [an] absolute thrill,” Wisz said of the emotions in the moment. “The goal from the beginning is always to get back to OKC and win it so just to get this last win under our belt and get back to OKC is really cool.

Saturday’s victory was the latest high mark in Wisz’s unlikely path to stardom that started at Loyola Marymount.

While assistant coaches Lisa Fernandez and Kirk Walker thought seriously about recruiting Wisz to UCLA, Inouye-Perez said she didn’t know much about the third baseman as a recruit. Coming out of high school, Wisz “just wasn’t that player for us,” Inouye-Perez said before the postseason.

Wisz admits she was a late bloomer on the recruiting trail out of Santa Maria Righetti High. Fernandez told her she knew Wisz was a good player, but by the time the prospect had proven herself, UCLA’s 2018 recruiting class was already set. Instead of following her older sister to UCLA, she went to Loyola Marymount.

Wisz made an impact as a freshman, earning All-West Coast Conference honorable mention, then got even better when All-WCC second-team honors as a sophomore. But she didn’t feel challenged there.

Now surrounded by All-Americans, Wisz says she’s challenged every day.

“It has without a doubt made me 10 times the player I was in my old school,” said Wisz, who earned her first All-Pac-12 first team honor this season.

Wisz recalled the feeling of looking at Loyola Marymount’s conference rival Brigham Young, which has won 12 consecutive conference titles, and once thinking the Cougars were a juggernaut. Now playing for the most decorated softball team in the country, Wisz is the one drawing envious glances as she pulled on a World Series cap and posed with an oversized “ticket” signaling UCLA’s admission to the Women’s College World Series.

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