No. 1-Ranked Washington To Vie For Sixth Tournament Title At Kia Klassic
March 8, 2000
Tue., Mar. 21 vs. No. 22 DePaul*, Noon
IN THE POLLS (Mar. 7)
NO. 1 HUSKIES LOOK TO CONTINUE ROLL IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The top-ranked UW softball team has its sights on its second major regular-season tournament title of the season Mar. 15-19 at the Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif., against a 16-team field that includes 11 squads ranked in the top 25 in the nation. In the tournament's third year with Kia as the sponsor after Pony held that title for many years, pool play will be Thursday and early Friday, with playoffs beginning Friday evening. Four pools of four teams each will play a round-robin schedule to determine the pairings for the 16-team championship bracket. On Thursday, Washington will play No. 14 Iowa at 1 p.m. before a rematch of the NFCA Leadoff Classic title game against No. 7 Fresno State at 5 p.m. On Friday the Huskies will meet No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette, who downed UW, 5-4, in a spectacular, 12-inning epic in last year's quarterfinals. The semifinals and final will be played Sunday.
POLLING THE HUSKIES: Washington is the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation for the second straight week and holds the top spot for the third week in the USA Today/NFCA poll 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 55 weeks dating back to the first weekly poll in 1996. UW has been in the top 25 every year since late in its inaugural year.
LAST WEEKEND: The Huskies swept through its fourth tournament of the year in winning the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., by shutting out No. 7 Fresno State, 1-0, in the final. One of two championship-style tournaments which features most of the teams in the top-25 poll-the second is the Kia Klassic, which UW will compete in next weekend-the Leadoff Classic put several factors in the Huskies' path to their title, including four top-25 teams, a marathon day and extreme weather patterns. Washington opened with a 8-0, six-inning win over Utah, behind the pitching of Jamie Graves and homers by Christie Rosenblad and Jenny Topping. But lightning got the final word of the day, postponing the Illinois-Chicago game, which UW lead 2-0 with two outs in the top of the seventh, until the next day. Friday started at 10 a.m. with a 6-1 win over Florida. UW used 13 singles and doubles to down the Gators, just the fifth game of the year a Husky didn't hit a dinger. At 3 p.m., Washington used just nine minutes to finish off No. 17 UIC, including getting Jenny Topping's third grand slam of the year and her second homer of the game. Jennifer Spediacci struck out 10 batters, using nine pitches to whiff the side in the first frame. The quarterfinal game against No. 23 Nebraska, scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m., didn't get underway until 9:45 p.m. and concluded the next day at 12:30 a.m. The Huskies upended the Huskers, 10-2, off a five-run fifth inning, including a three-run blast by Shannon Walsh. Topping and Kelly Hauxhurst added bombs in the midnight madness. The semifinal against No. 8 Louisiana State marked the third outing against the Tigers in 15 games. UW prevailed for the second time, 3-0, behind Graves' five-strikeout performance. In the final, Spediacci struck out 10 and allowed just one hit, and Topping sent a ball over the fence for the lone score.
WEEKEND NUMBERS: All totaled, UW collected eight home runs, 12 doubles and 20 walks offensively, hitting .346 in six games, four against top-25 opponents. From the circle, the staff threw four shutouts and maintained a 0.34 ERA, with 50 strikeouts in 41 innings.
ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS: Jenny Topping hit five homers, including two game-winners, to earn MVP honors at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. She hit .667 (10-15) over the weekend, with two doubles, 12 RBI and five walks for 1.800 slugging and .750 on-base percentages while playing first base, catcher and designated hitter. Jennifer Spediacci (0.29 ERA, 3-0 against top-25 squads, one save and 36 strikeouts in 24 innings) and Kelly Hauxhurst (eight runs, two doubles, a career-first homer and two stolen bases) earned spots on the all-tournament team.
HUSKIES SWEEP PAC-10 HONORS: Jennifer Spediacci and Jaime Clark earned Pac-10 Pitcher and Player of the Week honors for their performances at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.. Topping earned the honor for the first time in her career, while it was Spediacci's sixth such honor.
Jaime Clark: Pac-10 Player of the Week (2/15), NFCA Player of the Week (3/1)
TOPPING EARNS NFCA HONORS: Jenny Topping was named the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Player of the Week last week after the NFCA Leadoff Classic. She won the tournament's "triple crown," leading the Classic in batting average (.667 on 10-for-15), home runs (five) and RBI (12). Topping's solo home run was the difference in UW's 1-0 win over No. 8 Fresno State in the title game. Topping follows shortstop/outfielder Jaime Clark with the honor.
PAC-10 MOVING UP IN POLL: You've never had to look far to find Pac-10 representatives in the USA Today/NFCA poll, and now your search will be even shorter. Seven of the eight squads are in the top 10, and all have been represented twice in the polls. Right behind the No. 1 Huskies are UCLA, Arizona and ASU. Cal is sixth, and Stanford and OSU fill the ninth and 10th spots. Oregon comes in at 25th.
ANOTHER TOP-25 LADEN SCHEDULE: Eighteen of Washington's 31 known opponents, not counting possible Kia Klassic playoff foes, are ranked in the top 25 in the polls, or were at game time. With all seven Pac-10 teams in the rankings, 18 league outings and at least 18 non-league games will be vs. top-25 squads.
STRENGTH OF THE PAC-10: If anyone still questions the strength of the Pac-10 in softball, consider this: the league has an amazing 160-24-1 record (.868) so far this season, with four of those losses coming at the hands of a Pac-10 squad and 15 to top-25 opponents. Last year the conference sent all eight teams to the NCAA for the first time in history.
POSSIBLE KIA KLASSIC PLAYOFF OPPONENTS: The 12 other teams vying for the Kia Klassic title besides UW, No. 7 Fresno State, No. 14 Iowa and No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette are No. 2 Arizona, No. 4 Arizona State, No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 11 Cal State Fullerton, No. 21 Hawai'i, No. 22 DePaul, Cal State Northridge, Northeastern Louisiana, Notre Dame, UNLV and Texas.
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 45 games-about 73 percent of their regular-season schedule-on the road before gracing the fields of Husky Softball Stadium. Washington does not open at home until mid-April and will play 13 home contests by mid-May.
ZONING OUT: The Huskies have played in four different time zones in the past four weekends and will have logged 15,852 air miles after the Kia Klassic.
FIVE-FOR-FIVE: The Huskies have won all five tournaments they have entered this season after winning the NFCA Leadoff Classic title last weekend with six wins. UW has swept through three other tournaments undefeated, including the Pepsi Arizona Classic, the Matador Invitational, and the Red Desert Classic, a title they shared with Stanford. The Dawgs brought home the Texas Invitational title, avenging a loss in round-robin play to No. 7 LSU in the championship game.
JAIME CLARK DEBUTS WITH PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS: Freshman shortstop/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 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: 34 hits and 13 doubles. Her one triple is tied for the team lead, she has nine homers, and she has struck out just three times in 77 at-bats.
CLARK EARNS NATIONAL HONORS: Freshman Jaime Clark earned Louisville Slugger/NFCA Player of the Week honors after her .706 (12-17) performance at the Red Desert Classic. In five games, Clark turned in four home runs and three doubles for a 1.588 slugging percentage. The shortstop/right fielder maintained a 1.000 fielding percentage while collected 10 RBI with one walk and no strikeouts.
LONG BALL RECORD WATCH: OK, I'm thinking we're well enough into the season to make legitimate trend analyses, especially since the Huskies have tied two school records barely more than a third of the way through the season. Washington has hit 39 home runs in its first 25 games, on pace to knock about 109 balls out of the park. Although I realize it's a big one, that number would break the NCAA record of 100 and would almost triple the previous 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. Redshirt Jenny Topping leads the squad with a program record-tying 13, and freshman Jaime Clark has nine, her first coming on her second collegiate pitch.
"OVER THE FENCE CLUB": UW's "Over the Fence Club" grows almost every weekend. The Huskies have pounded a school record-tying 39 dingers this season in just five weekends, and Jenny Topping's 13 also ties the individual season mark. Membership now stands at 11, with the addition of Kelly Hauxhurst, Christie Rosenblad and Shannon Walsh from the NFCA Leadoff Classic.
MORE ON HOME RUNS: Washington has hit home runs in all but six games this season, and 67 of its 178 runs have come off four-baggers. Five Huskies have hit two or more homers this season-Jenny Topping (13), Jaime Clark (9), Erin Helgeland (5), Kim DePaul (4) and Jennifer Spediacci (2). Four UW players have hit two or more four-baggers in one day: Clark (twice), DePaul, Helgeland and Topping (four times).
THIS NOTE SPONSORED BY DENNY'S: Grand slam, anyone? Jenny Topping already has served up three this year and Kim DePaul two, doing what only three other Huskies had ever done before. DePaul, a Tomball, Texas, native, debuted in the Lone Star State by hitting a bases-loaded home run in the second game against Southwest Texas State and added another against Utah. Topping also slammed Utah at the Red Desert Classic, her second in as many days after serving up No. 25 Oklahoma State the previous day. Topping's latest came at the hands of No. 17 Illinois-Chicago at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.
HIT INEQUITY: There seems to be an inequity in the hit category of Washington games. The Huskies have collected double-digit hits in 11 games and have five or more in all but three outings. In contrast, UW has given up five or more hits just seven times. The Dawgs pounded 15 hits in five innings against South Florida for a season high.
THREE OVER FOUR HUNDRED: Washington has three hitters who have an average over .400 for the first time this late in the season in at least three years. Redshirt freshman Jenny Topping has a .519 (28-54) with 20 walks and three strikeouts, freshman Jaime Clark is at .442 (34-77), with seven walks and three strikeouts, and junior Christie Rosenblad has a .436 (24-55).
HER REPUTATION PRECEDES HER: Redshirt freshman Jenny Topping had made only 32 plate appearances in her collegiate career prior to this season. 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.
TOPPING THE RECORDS: At the current rate, Jenny Topping could own just about every offensive record at Washington, both season and career, along with a few national marks. Realizing her career is young and the numbers are gaudy, consider: with 20 walks in 21 games this year, and 27 in 30 games in her career, she would obliterate the NCAA career record for walks, which is 178. UW hitting coach Jen Cline, coincidentally, is second on that list with 175. Topping also has 13 home runs in 54 at-bats, which ties the Husky season mark. The NCAA homer season record is 37, and the walks season mark is 64.
HAUXHURST STREAK TIES SCHOOL RECORD: Junior Kelly Hauxhurst put together a string of 15 games in which she collected at least one hit, tying the school record in that category. Hauxhurst hit at least one single in every outing from games against Cal State Northridge (2/12) through Utah (2/26). She was 17-52 during that streak, hitting .327. Her average for the season is .309 with 12 RBI and a dinger while hitting in the second slot.
ROSENBLAD'S STREAK ENDS AGAINST FRESNO STATE: Junior Christie Rosenblad has made the most of her hitting opportunities this season and has become a steady fixture in the offensive lineup after hitting part-time a year ago. Rosenblad's .436 average, third on the squad, has been bolstered by a 14-game hitting streak, which ended against Fresno State in the title game of the NFCA Leadoff Classic. The second baseman hit .475 (19-40) during that streak, including 10 runs, three RBI, three doubles and a homer.
CLUTCH HITTING: The Huskies have had some clutch hitting this season, with 87 of their 167 RBI-more than half-coming with two outs. Jenny Topping leads in that category with 18, with Jaime Clark and Kim DePaul having collected 13 each.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PITCHING?: With all this talk about the Husky hitters, one might forget UW has one of the best pitching staffs in the nation. Seniors Jamie Graves and Jennifer Spediacci each have earned All-America honors, and last year UW was the second-best staff in the nation with a 0.88 ERA. They are on their way to much the same again in 2000, with a staff ERA of 0.88.
THE GOODS ON GRAVES: Graves is 13-0, with four wins over ranked opponents. She sports a 0.81 ERA, with 64 strikeouts and nine walks in 69.0 innings. The lefty was named to the NFCA Leadoff Classic all-tournament team after shutting down Utah and No. 5 Louisiana State in the semifinals.
"SPED-ING" TOWARD ANOTHER STRIKEOUT RECORD: Jennifer Spediacci already holds the UW career strikeout mark-she established that record two-thirds of the way through her junior season. But she could break her own season mark of 250 this season. Spediacci has 101 whiffs in 79.0 innings, just over a third of the season this year. She is 11-1, defeating eight ranked teams, with a 0.97 ERA and 16 walks. Spediacci has struck out 10 or more batters against four opponents: No. 19 Texas (12), No. 17 Illinois-Chicago (10), No. 23 Nebraska (12) and No. 8 Fresno State (10).
FOUR STRIKEOUTS IN AN INNING?: Three strikeouts in an inning just isn't enough for Jennifer Spediacci. In the fifth inning against No. 23 Nebraska (at approximately 11:45 p.m.), Spediacci fanned four batters. How? On third strikes, if the catchers drops the ball, the batter must be thrown out at first or will be called safe, which is what happened.
THREE PITCHES AND YOU'RE OUT: Jennifer Spediacci needed just nine pitches to strike out the side in the first inning against No. 17 Illinois-Chicago at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. She followed that by striking out the next two batters and struck out two in the final inning. All totaled, she whiffed 10 Flames.
U-DUB DRIBBLES: UW opened with nine straight wins, matching its best-ever start from 1996, and after a loss has won 14 more...The 24-1 mark is one win shy of matching the program's best-ever start...UW is 11-0 in shutouts this year and has won all eight of its run-rule games...Ten Huskies have multiple-hit games, led by Jaime Clark's 11 and nine by Rosie Leutzinger and Jenny Topping...UW 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...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.).
BIG INNINGS: Washington has put together some high-scoring innings during its first 25 games. The Huskies scored seven runs in the sixth inning against Southwest Texas State and Utah, and got six in the first frame versus South Florida. UW put five runs across against San Diego State(first inning), Cal State Northridge (fourth), Southwest Texas State (fifth), No. 19 Texas (second), No. 25-tie Oklahoma State (fifth) and No. 23 Nebraska (fifth).
HUSKIES NO. 2 IN PAC-10 COACHES POLL: 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 ASU (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 league 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 have won 77 percent (177-53) 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).
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. 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. Tune in this week to hear from Kelly Hauxhurst.
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
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.
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).
HUSKY QUICK FACTS
UW'S SITUATIONAL RECORDS