Husky Softball Team Begins 2000 Season Where It Ended Last Year: No. 2 In The Nation
Feb. 1, 2000
IN THE POLLS (Preseason)
HUSKY QUICK FACTS
HUSKIES OPEN 2000 SEASON AT ARIZONA TOURNEY: The No. 2 Washington softball team begins its quest for its fifth-straight College World Series berth this weekend at the Arizona Softball Classic in Tucson, Ariz., against two other top-five and 1999 CWS teams. UW meets No. 5 Southern Miss at noon both Feb. 4 and Feb. 5, the second outing followed by a matchup against No. 4 Arizona at 2 p.m.
ANOTHER PAC-10 LADEN POLL: The Huskies are picked second in the USA Today/NFCA preseason coaches' poll. Defending national champion UCLA tops the list, and fellow Pac-10 member Arizona is ranked fourth. All totaled, seven of the eight Pac-10 schools which sponsor softball are ranked in the top 25, and the other, Oregon, earned enough votes to be just four spots out of the running. Also ranked from the league are Arizona State (ninth), Oregon State (11th), California (12th), and Stanford (21st).
ANOTHER TOP-25 LADEN SCHEDULE: Washington is slated to face 15 of the top 25 teams at least once during the regular season, and another five could be regular-season tournament opponents. With six other Pac-10 teams in the rankings, 18 league outings and at least 11 non-conference games will be vs. top-25 squads.
HUSKIES NO. 2 IN PAC-10 COACHES POLL AS WELL: The NCAA runners-up Washington softball team earned three first-place votes from Pac-10 coaches and was picked to finish second in the powerhouse Pac-10 Conference this season behind UCLA. UW picked up 44 points, just three behind the Bruins' 47. Arizona finished third in the poll with 38 points, followed by Arizona State (28), Stanford (23), Oregon State (19), California (13) and Oregon (12).
RADIO SCHEDULE RELEASED: Eight Husky softball games will be aired on KKOL 1300-AM this season, with Mike Brown handling play-by-play for the third-straight season. UW is one of the few softball programs in the nation with regular-season games broadcast by a local radio station. The schedule is noted at right. Times listed indicate time of the pregame show, which precedes the game by 30 minutes except when noted.
USA SOFTBALL TEAM TO PLAY IN HUSKY SOFTBALL STADIUM: The USA Softball women's national team will make Seattle one of its 31 stops across America in preparation for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. The squad, which won the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games, will play an exhibition game at Husky Softball Stadium on July 16 against players from the Women's Pro Softball League's Akron Racers. Stay tuned for more details.
UCLA MATCHUP TIME CHANGED TO ACCOMMODATE TV COVERAGE: A College World Series title game rematch will be aired on Fox Sports Net when the network broadcasts the Apr. 22 game between Washington and UCLA at 1 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for 2 p.m.
HUSKIES TRADITIONALLY FARE WELL ON OPENING WEEKEND: Washington has a four-game winning streak in its first outing of the season and is 5-2 overall. The Huskies are 27-11 (.711) on opening weekends, going undefeated in 1996 in six contests, despite playing 18 ranked foes.
THAT'S QUITE A ROAD TRIP: Washington opens the season with a very long road trip, of sorts. Although the Huskies return home between each trip, they will play at least 46 games-about 73 percent of their regular-season schedule-on the road before gracing the fields of Husky Softball Stadium. UW does not open at home until mid-April and will play 13 home contests by mid-May.
PAC-10 SCHEDULE FEATURES SINGLE-GAME WEEKENDS: The Pac-10 schedule will have a different look to it this season. In the past, teams have played home-and-away weekend doubleheaders with each conference foe. This season, single games will be played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with each team playing the other three times in a home-and-away format. For instance, when UW travels to the Bay Area, it will face Stanford on Friday and Cal on Saturday and Sunday. When those teams come to Seattle, UW will play Cal on Friday and Stanford on Saturday and Sunday.
SEXTET OF SENIORS: The Dawgs will be a veteran group this year, led by six seniors who already have stamped their marks on the program. Melissa Downs, Jeanine Giordano, Jamie Graves, Erin Helgeland, Rosie Leutzinger and Jennifer Spediacci have taken the Huskies to three straight College World Series semifinals, finishing second in 1999, and won 74.6 percent (153-52) of their games while wearing the Purple and Gold. The group includes three All-Americans (Graves, Leutzinger, Spediacci), five UW record holders (Giordano, Graves, Helgeland, Leutzinger, Spediacci), three WPSL draft picks (Giordano, Graves, Spediacci) and two Washington natives (Downs, Helgeland).
FOUR HUSKIES CHOSEN IN WPSL DRAFTS FOR 2000 SEASON: Four current or former members of the Husky softball team were drafted by Women's Pro Softball League teams in preparation of the 2000 season, which runs June through August. Former All-American and current assistant coach Jennifer Cline went seventh in the Elite/Supplemental Draft, chosen by the Tampa Bay FireStix. Cline played for the Virginia Roadsters last season. Seniors Jamie Graves, Jennifer Spediacci and Jeanine Giordano were picked 19th, 20th and 22nd, respectively, in the Senior Draft. The Akron Racers snagged Graves and Giordano, and Spediacci will join Cline with the Tampa Bay FireStix. Former Husky Sara Pickering, who played with the Virginia Roadsters last summer, is now a member of the Akron Racers. The revamped league consists of four teams located in national training centers planned for Akron, Ohio, and Plant City, Fla. The Akron Races and the 1999 WPSL champion Tampa Bay FireStix remain as the foundation of the league. The Ohio Pride will share Firestone Stadium with the Racers, while the Florida Wahoos will join the FireStix in Plant City Stadium. The season includes 64 league games, 12 regular-season exhibitions, a best-of-three WPSL Championship Series, and two season-ending all-star exhibitions. ESPN2 has agreed to increase its WPSL television coverage from nine to 10 games for the 2000 season.
A LOOK BACK AT THE 1999 SEASON: After finishing third in the Pac-10 Conference, Washington turned it up a notch in the NCAA tournament, skating undefeated through its own regional and defeating three Pac-10 squads to advance to the College World Series final for the second time in four years. The Huskies clicked on all cylinders during the postseason, batting 40 points higher as a team in the playoffs than in the regular season and lowering their ERA by 36 points. UW hosted and won the No. 3 Regional by downing Colgate (8-0 in six), Tennessee (12-1 in five), Cal State Fullerton (1-0 in nine) and Hawai'i (3-0). At the World Series, the Dawgs then topped Arizona State (4-1), Arizona (3-0) and Cal (3-0) before a two-out, seventh-inning rally fell a run short against UCLA (3-2).
NEWBRY LONE STARTER LOST FROM '99 SEASON: Becky Newbry is the only starter lost from last season, but the three-time All-American will be difficult to replace. Newbry saved her best season for her last, earning first-team All-America honors while hitting .436. That average ranked second in the Pac-10 and 17th in the nation. She finished her career ranked in UW's top 10 in every offensive category, including first in triples (16) and second in games played (266), runs (181) and hits (286). The Olympia, Wash., native became the program's first three-time All-American and broke the unofficial position record, playing at every spot in the field except pitcher in her career. All of that came after Newbry joined the team as a walk-on in 1996.
U-DUB DRIBBLES: Washington is one of only two teams which has a current four-year streak of appearances at the College World Series. Arizona is the other...UW is tied for sixth all-time in CWS wins with 11 and was the youngest program to win a game in the NCAA CWS...The Huskies will compete in six regular-season tournaments in five different states this season: Arizona Softball Classic (Tucson, Ariz.), Matador Invitational (Northridge, Calif.), Texas Invitational (Austin, Texas), Utah Tournament (St. George, Utah), NFCA Leadoff Classic (Columbus, Ga.) and Kia Klassic (Fullerton, Calif.
USA TODAY/NFCA POLL (Preseason)