No. 1-Ranked Washington To Begin Pac-10 Schedule
March 29, 2000
NO. 1 HUSKIES TO BEGIN PAC-10 WAR AT 36-3: The top-ranked UW softball team (36-3) will turn its attention to the ridiculously tough Pac-10 season this weekend, continuing its life on the road at No. 4 Cal and No. 8 Stanford. The league, which has won 14 of the 18 College World Series titles, currently has all eight teams in the top 25 and holds the top five spots. The Huskies will face the Cardinal on Friday at 2 p.m. before playing at Cal on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
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.
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. All eight squads are in the top 25, the league holds the top five positions, and another is in the top 10. Right behind the No. 1 Huskies are Arizona, UCLA, Cal and ASU. Stanford is eighth and OSU fills the 11th spot. Oregon is 23rd.
POLLING THE HUSKIES: Washington is the No. 1 team in the nation for the fifth straight 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 56 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.
STRENGTH OF THE PAC-10: If anyone still questions the strength of the Pac-10 in softball, consider this: the league has an amazing 24341-1 record (.854) so far this season, with eight of those losses coming at the hands of another Pac-10 squad and 25 defeats to top-25 opponents. Last year the conference sent all eight teams to the NCAA for the first time in history.
SPEDIACCI EARNS PAC-10 PITCHER OF THE WEEK HONORS: Senior Jennifer Spediacci maintained a 0.00 ERA through 19.0 innings of play to post three wins, including shutouts over No. 11 Cal State Fullerton and No. 19 Long Beach State, to earn Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors Mar. 28. Spediacci threw two complete games and struck out 23 batters while holding opposing hitters to a .186 batting average. Spediacci also was third on the team at the plate, hitting .364 (4-11), with one triple, two RBI and two walks. The award was her third of the season and eighth of her career.
ABOUT STANFORD: The Cardinal is off to a 30-4 start this season, a program best, and is ranked No. 8 in the country. Stanford had won 12 straight before splitting with No. 4 Cal (5-6, 2-0) in its Pac-10 opener. SU then downed UC Santa Barbara (6-2) the next day. Jessica Mendoza leads a Stanford team which is hitting .313, with a .459 average and five home runs. Robin Walker is hitting .407. Maureen LeCocq leads the pitching staff with a 0.60 ERA in 46.1 innings. Dana Sorensen, who has thrown a staff-high 109.0 innings, is at 1.16. Head coach John Rittman, a former long-time assistant to Teresa Wilson, is 141-74-1 in his fourth season.
ABOUT CAL: The Bears are 37-5 this season and are ranked fourth in the nation, having moved up in the polls each week. After beginning with a school-best 19-0 record, Cal has gone 18-5 since and most recently split with Stanford in both teams' league opener. Lisa Iancin leads the Bears at the plate with a .395 average, and Veronica Nelson (.388) has 11 home runs and 32 RBI. The pitching staff has a collective 1.17 ERA, led by Nicole DiSalvio's 0.93 in 90.1 innings. Jocelyn Forest is at 1.24 with 125 strikeouts in 113.0 innings. Head coach Diane Ninemire has a 531-279 in 13 years.
HUSKIES SWEEP PAC-10 HONORS, ROUND TWO: Jamie Graves and Jennifer Spediacci Pac-10 Player and Pitcher of the Week honors for their performances at the Kia Klassic, which helped UW win the title. It was the second time this season UW has swept the awards. Graves led the Dawgs at the plate, hitting .400 (4-10) over the weekend, including her first career home run to help the Huskies down No. 12 Oregon State in the semifinals. In that game, Graves also pitched 8.1 innings and struck out a career-best 12 batters before Spediacci relieved her to earn the win. Graves also hit two doubles, one in the midst of a three-run second inning against No. 2 Arizona in the final to put the Huskies ahead for good. She maintained a 0.00 ERA in 20.1 innings, with 20 strikeouts and two shutout wins, blanking No. 7 Fresno State and Texas. Spediacci went 5-0, including four wins over top-25 teams, four complete games and two shutouts. She allowed just one earned run in 30.2 innings, a 0.23 ERA, while striking out 46 and allowing just 13 hits. Spediacci defeated No. 2 Arizona in the final, shut out No. 16 ULL and DePaul, and handed No. 14 Iowa and No. 12 Oregon State defeats. Batters hit just .123 against her. Offensively, she hit a homer and knocked in four runs.
KIA KLASSIC WRAP-UP: The Huskies won their sixth tournament title of the season in sweeping through perhaps the toughest regular-season tournament in the nation. The Kia Klassic featured six of the nation's top 10 teams, and 11 of the 16 squads were ranked in the top 25. UW downed three ranked foes in pool play, topping No. 14-tie Iowa (5-1), handing No. 7 Fresno State its worst defeat (7-0) since 1994, and stopping No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette (4-0). Two school home run records fell against the Hawkeyes, as Jenny Topping hit her 14th and the team's 40th of the season. Jamie Graves shut out Fresno State, holding the Bulldogs hitless until the fifth inning, and Jennifer Spediacci two-hit Iowa and struck out 11. Spediacci whiffed 13, a career high, against ULL and hit a three-run homer to break open a 1-0 game. In a playoff win against Texas (6-0), Graves doubled the winning run in. UW then defeated DePaul (6-0) in the quarterfinals to break the team record for consecutive wins with 20 behind 3-for-3 hitting from Kim DePaul and a 3-for-4 performance from Kelly Hauxhurst. It was a preview of the Pac-10 season in the semifinal and final games. UW thwarted a rally by No. 12 Oregon State to win 5-2 in the 10th off a three-run homer by Jaime Clark. Jamie Graves struck out 12 in 8.1 innings and knocked her career first dinger before Spediacci relieved her. The Huskies then defeated No. 2 Arizona (6-1) for the second time of the season behind Spediacci's eight strikeouts and another homer by Clark.
THE WEEK AFTER: The Huskies suffered a bit of a letdown the week after the Kia Klassic, playing seven more games in six days in Southern California. UW, on Spring Break after tackling finals and the Kia Klassic the previous week, defeated DePaul (2-1) on Tuesday behind a great offensive and defensive performance by Jamie Graves before Northwestern toppled the Huskies, 4-1. UW came back that evening to run-rule No. 11 Cal State Fullerton (9-0) in six innings on the strength of four home runs, two by Kim DePaul. Jenny Topping went 6-for-8 and DePaul was 5-for-8 in a doubleheader win against San Diego State (4-0, 10-2) on Thursday, but No. 19 Long Beach State tripped up the Huskies on the final game of the 12-day, 14-game trip. After blanking the 49ers (4-0) in the first game, in which Spediacci struck out nine, tripled and drove in two runs, LBSU scored the only run of the game in the bottom of the ninth.
HUSKY QUICK FACTS
UW'S SITUATIONAL RECORDS
TOPPING EARNS NFCA HONORS: Jenny Topping was named the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Player of the 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.
HUSKIES SWEEP PAC-10 HONORS: Jennifer Spediacci and Jenny Topping 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.
ANOTHER TOP-25 LADEN SCHEDULE: Eighteen of Washington's 32 regular-season opponents this season are ranked in the top 25 in the polls or were at game time. With all eight Pac-10 teams in the rankings, all 21 league outings and 20 non-league games will be vs. top-25 squads.
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 47 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 played in four different time zones in four consecutive weekends and logged 15,852 air miles by the time they returned home from their Spring Break trip to Southern California.
SIX-FOR-SIX: The Huskies won all six regular-season tournaments they entered this season after sweeping the Kia Klassic with seven wins. UW swept through four other tournaments undefeated, including the Pepsi Arizona Classic, the Matador Invitational, the Red Desert Classic, a title they shared with Stanford, and the NFCA Leadoff Classic. The Dawgs also 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 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: The Huskies already have broken two school home run records at the halfway mark of the season. Washington has hit 52 home runs in its first 39 games, on pace to knock about 91 balls out of the park. That number would more than double 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 17, and freshman Jaime Clark has 12, her first coming on her second collegiate pitch.
"OVER THE FENCE CLUB": UW's "Over the Fence Club" added yet another member from the team's road trip to Southern California. Senior ace Jamie Graves hit her first career homer against No. 12 Oregon State in the semifinals of the Kia Klassic to up the membership total to 12. The Huskies have pounded a school-record 52 dingers this season, and Jenny Topping's 17 also breaks the individual season mark.
MORE ON HOME RUNS: Washington has hit home runs in all but 12 games this season, and 91 of its 247 runs have come off four-baggers. Six Huskies have hit two or more homers this season-Jenny Topping (17), Jaime Clark (12), Erin Helgeland (6), Kim DePaul (6), Jennifer Spediacci (3) and Christie Rosenblad (2). Four UW players have hit two or more four-baggers in one day: Clark (twice), DePaul (twice), Helgeland and Topping (four times).
THIS NOTE SPONSORED BY DENNY'S: Grand slam, anyone? Jenny Topping 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.
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), 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. Jamie Graves (3-0 and 0.44 ERA with 10 strikeouts and a shutout over No. 5 Louisiana State) and Kelly Hauxhurst (eight runs, two doubles, a career-first homer and two stolen bases) earned spots on the all-tournament team.
HIT INEQUITY: There seems to be an inequity in the hit category of Washington games. The Huskies have collected double-digit hits in 16 games and have five or more in all but four outings. In contrast, UW has given up more than five hits just eight times. The Dawgs pounded 15 hits in five innings against South Florida for a season high.
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, with sophomores Shannon Walsh and Bridget Wilcox, UW had the second-best staff in the nation with a 0.88 ERA. The foursome are on their way to possibly breaking that school record in 2000, with a staff ERA of 0.67.
THE GOODS ON GRAVES: Graves is 17-2, with five wins over ranked opponents. She sports a team-best 0.54 ERA, with 105 strikeouts and 19 walks in 116.2 innings. The lefty had a career-best day in the semifinals of the Kia Klassic against No. 12 Oregon State, striking out 12 and hitting her first-ever home run. She threw 8.1 innings, allowing no earned runs, before Jennifer Spediacci relieved her to pick up the win. Graves earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for her efforts during the Kia Klassic and 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 170 whiffs in 128.2 innings at about the halfway mark of the year. She is 19-1, defeating 14 ranked teams, with a 0.65 ERA and 25 walks. Spediacci has struck out 10 or more batters against six ranked opponents: No. 19 Texas (12), No. 17 Illinois-Chicago (10), No. 23 Nebraska (12), No. 8 Fresno State (10), No. 14 Iowa (11) and her 13 against No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette was a career high.
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 27 walks in 35 games this year, and 34 in 44 games in her career, she would break 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 17 home runs in 98 at-bats, which breaks the Husky season mark. The NCAA homer season record is 37, and the walks season mark is 64.
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.
LEUTZINGER STREAK TOPS SCHOOL MARK: Senior Rosie Leutzinger's current 17-game hitting streak tops the UW record of 15. Leutzinger has garnered at least one hit per game since the Mar. 4 outing against No. 23 Nebraska and had five multiple-hit outings during that span. Her batting average during the streak of .353 includes five doubles and one triple and 11 games against ranked opponents.
HAUXHURST PUTS TOGETHER 15-GAME STREAK: 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 before senior Rosie Leutzinger's current 17-game streak. 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.
CLUTCH HITTING: The Huskies have had some clutch hitting this season, with 117 of their 231 RBI-more than half-coming with two outs. Jenny Topping leads in that category with 26, with Jaime Clark adding 17 and Kim DePaul 16.
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.
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 broke the school record for consecutive wins with 23 from mid-February to mid-March. The Huskies sandwiched a loss between streaks of nine and 23 to jump out to the best start in program history...UW is 18-1 in shutouts this year and has won all nine of its run-rule games...Eleven Huskies have multiple-hit games, led by Jenny Topping's 16, Jaime Clark's 13, 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 competed 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).
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. Check in this week with Becky Simpson.
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
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 (189-55) 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
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).