No. 1-Ranked Huskies Shoot For Fourth Tourney Title Of The Season
Feb. 23, 2000
IN THE POLLS (Feb. 20)
HUSKIES' NEXT STOP-ST. GEORGE, UTAH: The top-ranked UW softball team, 13-1 and fresh off its third tournament title of the season, will compete in the Utah Tournament in St. George, Utah, this weekend. The Huskies will play five games between Friday and Sunday, with the tournament winner based on winning percentage. UW meets Brigham Young and Oklahoma State at noon and 2 p.m. MT, respectively, on Friday, then Saturday will face Southern Utah at 11 a.m. and Utah at 2 p.m. MT. The weekend will conclude with a bout against Tulsa Sunday at 11 a.m. MT.
POLLING THE HUSKIES: Washington received 16 first-place votes to help propel it to No. 1 in the first weekly USA Today/NFCA poll of the 2000 regular season after appearing in the second spot in the preseason rankings. The Huskies have been ranked No. 1 three other weeks in program history, all late during the 1996 season, and have been ranked in the top six in the nation the past 53 weeks dating back to the first weekly poll in 1996. UW has been in the top 25 since late in its inaugural year.
THREE FOR THREE: The Huskies dropped a game but won their third straight tournament title last weekend at the Texas Invitational in Austin, Texas. UW defeated No. 19 Texas in the semifinals and No. 7 LSU in the final. The Dawgs downed South Florida and UT earlier in the tournament after falling to LSU in the opener. Washington swept through its first two tournaments in winning the Pepsi Arizona Softball Classic and the Matador Invitational.
LAST WEEKEND: UW was upset by No. 7 Louisiana State to start the tournament, 4-2, before shutting out South Florida (10-0) and No. 19 Texas (5-0) in the round robin portion of the tourney. The Dawgs bounced back nicely from its first loss of the year, collecting 15 hits in five innings against South Florida. The Huskies then blanked UT for a second time, 6-0, in the semifinals before exacting revenge on LSU with a 4-1 thriller. The Tigers, in their first defeat of the year, scored their lead-off runner in the opening inning before Jamie Graves proceeded to strike out 10 batters and allow just one more hit during the game. But the Huskies didn't get a runner past second base until the sixth inning when, with one out, Kim DePaul singled, Jenny Topping walked and Jaime Clark was hit by a pitch before a sac fly by Melissa Downs on a full count evened the score. Graves then walked to set up a two-out, two-RBI single by Shannon Walsh to put UW up, 3-1. Another run came in the final frame. Washington began the trip by outscoring Southwest Texas State, 22-3, in sweeping the doubleheader.
ANOTHER PAC-10 LADEN POLL: You don't have to look far to find Pac-10 representatives in the latest USA Today/NFCA poll, and you'll find all eight league teams in the rankings. Right behind the No. 1 Huskies are UCLA and Arizona. Arizona State comes in a is ranked fourth, and Cal's eight-place ranking gives the league five of the top 10 spots. The rest of the league comes in as follows: Stanford (11th), Oregon State (12th) and Oregon (tie for 25th).
ANOTHER TOP-25 LADEN SCHEDULE: Seventeen of Washington's 31 known opponents, not counting possible regular-season tournament foes, are ranked in the top 25 in the first regular-season poll. With all eight Pac-10 teams in the rankings, 21 league outings and at least 13 non-conference games will be vs. top-25 squads.
STRENGTH OF THE PAC-10: If anyone still questions the strength of the Pac-10 Conference on the softball diamond, consider this. The league has an amazing 84-14-1 record (.854) so far this season, with one of those losses being to a Pac-10 squad and eight to top-25 opponents. Last year the conference sent all eight teams to the NCAA tournament for the first time in history.
ABOUT BRIGHAM YOUNG: The Cougars are in their first season as a Division I softball team and have gotten off to a good start. BYU is 4-3, with wins over Sacramento State (3-2), San Jose State (7-4) and San Diego (2-1, 11-0) and losses to Cal (7-0), San Jose State (6-3) and San Diego State (2-1). Emily Fernley leads BYU offensively with a .556 batting average. Meghan Pricer's 2.11 ERA, 18 strikeouts and 21.1 innings leads the staff. Head coach Mary Kay Amicone is in her first year as a Division I head coach.
ABOUT SOUTHERN UTAH: The Thunderbirds are winless after seven outings this season against the likes of UNLV (8-0, 14-1), Notre Dame (8-0), Florida International (9-1), Fordam (3-2), Loyola Marymount (6-1) and Cal Poly (7-2). Second-year head coach Laurel Simmons is 10-55-1. UW won the teams' only meeting on the diamond.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE: The Cowgirls are 10-2 this season and riding a six-game winning streak. After dropping their first game of the season to Auburn, they reeled off four and six consecutive wins separated by a loss to Northwestern State. Most recently, OSU has handed two losses each to Southwest Missouri State, Drake and Panhandle State. In their only game against a ranked opponent, OSU downed No. 22 Illinois-Chicago, 1-0. Jenny Kipp and Shelly Graham are batting .409 and .400, respectively, pacing the team to a .340 average. Ace Lauren Bay has yet to allow an earned run in 26.1 innings, and the staff is at 1.00 ERA collectively. Head coach Sandy Fischer has an 801-314-3 mark in her 23rd season. Washington holds a 7-2 edge in the series.
ABOUT UTAH: The Utes are 6-4 thus far and have pinned losses on No. 11 Oregon State (7-6) and Oregon (1-0). Utah won six straight before falling to Notre Dame (2-1) on Sunday. Other wins have come against Mississippi State (8-6), Kansas (6-5), Loyola Marymount (6-1) and Virginia (4-3), with losses to Cal State Fullerton (8-0), Oregon State (11-3) and Wisconsin (15-1). Niki Hayhurst (.379) and Sunny Smith (.370) lead the team offensively, with Smith posting three home runs and nine RBI. From the circle, Kristin Arbogast has a 2.71 ERA in 51.2 innings, with 24 strikeouts. Head coach Mona Stevens is 114-70 in her fourth year at Utah. The Huskies lead the series, 4-1.
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 44 games-about 64 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.
JAIME CLARK DEBUTS WITH PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS: Freshman short stop/right fielder Jaime Clark burst on to the collegiate scene with power and consistency, earning the season's first Pac-10 Player of the Week honor. In seven games, three against top-five opponents, Clark hit .444 (8-18) with a 1.167 slugging percentage. She knocked her second collegiate pitch-against first-team All-American Courtney Blades, no less-out of the park at the Pepsi Arizona Softball Classic. In that tournament, in which No. 2 Washington defeated No. 5 Southern Miss twice and No. 4 Arizona once, Clark registered a home run, a double and three walks. Clark leads the team in two offensive categories, with 14 runs and 15 hits. Her five home runs, five doubles and one triple are tied for the team lead.
THE RETURN OF THE LONG BALL: Is 14 games enough to start making trend analyses? The Huskies have hit 18 home runs in their first 13 games, on pace to knock about 88 balls out of the park. That figure would more than double UW's program record of 39 set in 1995. The long ball hasn't figured prominently in Washington's success the past couple of years, with just 26 a year ago and 15 in 1998. Two Huskies have five homers each this year: freshman Jaime Clark, whose first came on her second collegiate pitch, and redshirt freshman Jenny Topping, who has five in 10 games.
HER REPUTATION PRECEDES HER: Redshirt freshman Jenny Topping had made only 32 plate appearances in her collegiate career. Yet her first three of the 2000 season were walks, two of them intentional, against first-team All-American pitcher Courtney Blades. Topping hit .533 (8-for-15) in her first six games as a freshman before tearing her ACL in the eighth game of the season. She hit three homers, knocked in 11 runs and walked seven times a year ago. This year she has 10 walks in 10 games. At this rate (again, realizing this is a far-off computation), she would obliterate the NCAA record for walks in a career, which is 178. UW hitting coach Jen Cline, coincidentally, is second on that list with 175. Topping also has five home runs in 25 at-bats and could reach Cline's season record of 13 by the start of conference play.
HIT INEQUITY: There seems to be an inequity in the hit category of Washington games. The Huskies have collected double-digit hits in four games and have five or more in 12 outings. In contrast, UW has given up five or more hits just five times. The Dawgs pounded 15 hits in five innings against South Florida for a season high.
THIS NOTE SPONSORED BY DENNY'S: Junior Kim DePaul did what only two other Huskies have ever done-smacked a grand slam. The Tomball, Texas, native debuted in the Lone Star State by hitting a bases-loaded home run in the second game against Southwest Texas State to join UW assistant coach Jennifer Cline and Tori Storseth in that category. DePaul hit .429 while in Texas, with seven RBI, eight runs and nine hits.
U-DUB DRIBBLES: UW opened with nine straight wins, matching its best-ever start from 1996...UW is 6-0 in shutouts this year and has won all four of its run-rule games...Nine Huskies have multiple-hit games, led by Kim DePaul and Rosie Leutzinger five each. Jaime Clark and Melissa Downs check in at four...The Huskies are 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...UW 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.).
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).
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.
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.
UW SOFTBALL ON THE AIRWAYS
UCLA MATCHUP TIME CHANGED TO ACCOMMODATE TV: 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.
DEAR DIARY...: Wonder what goes on behind the scenes and in the minds of Husky softball players and coaches? You'll have two opportunities to read a more personal account of Washington softball. Head coach Teresa Wilson will post bi-monthly diary submissions to the cnn-si.com site every other Thursday, starting Feb. 17, while one Husky player per week will write about the team's fortunes on and off the field. Those will be posted on www.gohuskies.com each Tuesday, beginning Feb. 15.
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).
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.
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.
Name (Years at UW), current status
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. Newbry recently won Seattle Post-Intelligencer's 1999 Female Seattle Sports Star of the Year award.
HUSKY QUICK FACTS
UW'S SITUATIONAL RECORDS