STOCKTON, Calif. – Bryana Walker pitched 5.0 shutout innings to earn her 10th win of the season, and the No. 7 Huskies turned out nine runs on eight hits to defeat the UTEP Miners, 9-0, in five innings on Sunday at the Libby Matson Tournament in Stockton, Calif.
The Huskies (16-2) batted around in the top of the 1st inning to take a 5-0 lead before Walker (10-1) even threw a pitch to the Miners (6-14). Victoria Hayward led off the game with a walk and a stolen base. Then, Hooch Fagaly drove her home from second base with an RBI-single.
With two outs, Ali Aguilar singled, followed by walks to Whitney Jones and Jennie McNeill to score Fagaly from 3rd base and load the bases for Courtney Gano. All three runners came around to score on a throwing error, and Gano ended up on 2nd base.
“Whenever our offense does well, it makes it so much easier to pitch, because I have so much more freedom and ability to play my game,” Walker said.
Walker set the Miners down in order in the bottom of the 1st inning, striking out two batters. Walker finished with eight strikeouts and zero walks and struck out two batters in four of the five innings she pitched.
“It’s just about getting ahead in the count and staying ahead,” Walker said. “I attacked the zone early in counts to try to get a strike on the batter, and that gave me a lot of room to play later in counts to keep them off balance.”
The Huskies scored once in the 3rd inning on an RBI-single from Gano to score Aguilar and stretch their lead to 6-0.
Kylee Lahners and Aguilar hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the 4th, giving the Huskies a 9-0 lead. Lahners finished the day 1-for-3, with one run scored, one home run, and two RBI. The native of Laguna Hills, Calif. now has seven home runs and 30 RBI this season. Aguilar went 2-for-3, with three runs scored, one home run, and one RBI. Aguilar has now tallied three home runs and 16 RBI.
Walker retired the first nine batters she faced – six of the outs came by strikeout – before yielding a hit to the Miners leading off the bottom of the 4th inning.
Despite giving up two hits, Walker faced 16 batters, just one over the minimum thanks to an alert double-play she turned with second baseman Kelli Suguro in the bottom of the 4th.
With a runner on 2nd base, Walker snagged a line-drive and wheeled around to throw the ball to Suguro to double off the runner who had drifted away from the base.
“I got a good read on the ball right off the bat,” Walker said. “I was just trusting that Kelli was going to be there because I don’t think I even looked at her.”
The Huskies will travel to Fullerton, Calif. next to take part in the Judi Garman Classic on March 6 – 9. The Huskies open play on Thursday, March 6 vs. the No. 6/4 Michigan Wolverines (13-2) at 5:30 p.m.