Softball Comes Oh-So-Close to Title
May 24, 1998
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Although the Washington softball season ended a day sooner than the staff and players intended, the teams run to the semifinals of the College World Series despite starting seven freshmen and sophomores is certainly impressive.
The Huskies downed Fresno State, 3-1, in their opening game on Sunday to force a repeat matchup just 30 minutes later for the chance to battle Arizona for the national title. The Bulldogs came out on top of the do-or-die outing, 6-1, ending UWs season at 52-15 and with a third-place finish.
Washington collected eight hits in the first game and capitalized on two Bulldog errors, while sophomore pitcher Jennifer Spediacci (27-6) limited FSU to just three hits while whiffing six batters. Sophomore Rosie Leutzinger started off with a single down the left field line to set the tone of the game. The runs then followed in the third.
Leutzinger reached first again, this time on an error, and a single by freshman Kelly Hauxhurst moved Leutzinger to second. Sophomore Erin Helgeland was pegged in the back by the catcher after a bunt, landed safely on first on the error, and scampered to second. Leutzinger scored on the throw and Hauxhurst advanced to third. Senior Eve Gaws fielders choice put Hauxhurst out at home and Helgeland on third before a single by Spediacci sent Helgeland home. Freshman Amber Engen, pinch running for Gaw from second, crossed the plate on junior Becky Newbrys double to right field to end the scoring.
The Huskies got four other hits in the final four frames but could not get anyone past second base. Fresno State managed only two hits in the first six innings before Amanda Scott blasted a shot over the left field fence for her 14th homer of the season and FSUs only run.
The nightcap, however, proved to be a reversal of fortunes. This time it was UW who came up dry at the plate, with only a trio of hits, and committed an uncharacteristic five errors to help Fresno State take command. The Bulldogs scored twice in the top of the first inning and UW answered with one in the bottom, leading fans to believe the game would be a scorcher. Hauxhurst singled and scored on a double to the right center fence by Gaw, but the Huskies had only one hit the rest of the game.
FSU scored two more runs in both the fifth and sixth innings off three hits and four Husky errors to put the game away. Sophomore Jamie Graves (18-8) had the loss for UW, pitching five-plus innings before being relieved by Spediacci.
"I guess for a team full of young pups--Im very proud of this team," UW coach Teresa Wilson said. "We battled a lot this year and had only two seniors and two juniors. Hopefully that means we have a bright future in front of us. We played a great first game. Jen pitched another incredible game. But in the second game we didnt execute at the plate or on defense. You shouldnt have five errors in a game at this point of the season. Our defense has been our strong point all year, but we just didnt get it done today."
Game One Washington 003 000 0 -- 3 8 1 Fresno State 000 000 1 -- 1 3 2
Jennifer Spediacci and Jeanine Giordano; Amanda Scott, Lindsay Parker (5) and Amber Wall.
WP-Spediacci (27-6). LP-Scott (24-4).
2B-UW, Newbry. HR-FSU, Scott.
Game Two Fresno State 200 022 0 -- 6 8 2 Washington 100 000 0 -- 1 3 5
Jamie Graves, Jennifer Spediacci (6) and Jeanine Giordano; Lindsay Parker and Amber Wall.
WP-Parker (21-4). LP-Graves (18-8). 2B-UW, Gaw.