Softball Punches Ticket To Women's College World Series
May 26, 2007
SEATTLE-- Clutch hitting and solid pitching lifted the No. 6 seed Washington Huskies (40-17) to the 7-5 victory over No. 11 Alabama (56-9) in front of 2,077 fans at Husky Softball Stadium Saturday as UW swept the NCAA Seattle Super Regional to advance to the program's eighth Women's College World Series and first since 2004.
"This is what we have been playing for and we couldn't be more proud of everyone that has something to do with this program," said Huskies' coach Heather Tarr. "Hats off to Alabama for coming out and coming after us this game. They gave us a huge challenge. I believe that our team deserves to be one of the top-eight teams and that we deserve a shot at the national championship. I think we're that good."
For the second straight day, Washington took the early lead only to have Alabama come back and knot the score but the Huskies used timely hitting in the top of the seventh to take the two run lead and sophomore ace Danielle Lawrie shut down the Crimson Tide hitters to punch Washington's ticket back to Oklahoma City for the first time in three years.
Washington, who has made seven previous appearances in the Women's College World Series, had not been able to get through the Super Regional since the round was added in 2005, going 1-2 against eventual national champion Michigan in 2005 and 0-2 against Texas and pitching great Cat Osterman last season.
The Huskies, who were hosting a postseason round for the first time since 2000, swept Alabama in straight games to extend its unbeaten NCAA Tournament record to 16-0 in games played at Husky Softball Stadium.
The Crimson Tide struck first, scoring a run in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI-double by Dani Woods. The hit off the left field wall scored Jordan Praytor who had sparked the rally with a single up the middle.
Neither team was able to get much going until the fifth frame when Washington exploded for five runs on three hits. Sophomore Ashlyn Watson egnited the UW offense with a one-out single down the left field line. UA starter Blair Potter struck out the next batter for the second out of the inning before hanging a change-up to senior Nicole Moojen that she blasted off the left field wall to score pinch runner Jacki Hansen.
Potter elected to intentionally walk junior All-American Ashley Charters who had gone 3-for-3 in yesterday's ballgame to face sophomore Marnie Koziol but Koziol drew a walk to load the bases. Senior All-American Dominique Lastrapes then laced a single up the middle to score two more runs.
Alabama intentionally walked senior Dena Tyson and then brought in Chrissy Owens into the circle in relief. Owens walked junior Lauren Greer to bring in a run before Alabama second baseman Michelle Menningmann made a diving stop to her right on a hard hit ground ball by Watson to get the Crimson Tide out of the inning down 5-1.
Alabama roared back in the bottom half of the fifth, scoring four runs on two hits to tie the game at 5-5. Lawrie walked Menningmann to lead off the inning and then hit Kellie Eubanks with a pitch on a 0-2 count. Brittany Rogers then doubled to left-centerfield to score a run. The next two batters reached base on an intentional walk and fielder's choice before Charlotte Morgan drove a three-run double into the right-center gap to tie the score.
The Crimson Tide threatened in the sixth, putting two runners on base with a single to Eubanks and an intentional walk to Praytor but Lawrie got out of the inning unscathed with her ninth strikeout of the game.
The Huskies scored two runs in the top of the seventh to take the 7-5 lead and eventual win. After a UW ground out, Lastrapes was struck by a pitch. Tyson then laced a single into centerfield to put runners on first and second. Owens was able to get Lawrie to pop-up to the catcher for the second out of the inning but Greer came through with the game winning hit up the middle. Greer's single scored Lastrapes and an errant throw by Rogers from centerfield to home plate allowed Tyson to score from first base to give the Huskies the 7-5 cushion heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Lawrie sat Woods and Morgan down on a ground out and strikeout before Ashley Holcombe attepted a seventh-inning miracle with a single to third base. Lawrie was able to get Mandy Buford to ground out to Lastrapes at second base, however, to seal the Washington victory.
Lawrie (29-11) earned the win as she held Alabama to five runs on seven hits and struck out 10.
Owens (24-5) took the loss as she gave up two runs on two hits in 2.1 innings.
Washington, which had sold out the stadium by Wednesday afternoon, had hundreds of fans watching the game from the east end of Husky Football Stadium and had hundreds more fans along the right field fence in the standing room only section.
The Huskies will face the winner of the Oklahoma vs. DePaul Regional in the first round of the WCWS on Thursday, May 31. DePaul upset No. 3 seed Oklahoma 3-0 today in the first game of the best-of-three series. That Super Regional will conclude Sunday. Oklahoma has been Washington's first round opponent in its last two WCWS, including 2003 and 2004. The Huskies defeated the Sooners in 2003 and lost in 2004.