Huskies Open 2006 Campaign In Las Vegas

Feb. 8, 2006

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UP NEXT: The No. 13/No. 14 (NFCA/USA Softball) Washington softball team opens the 2006 season with five games at the UNLV Alexis Resort Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., Feb. 10-12. The Huskies open tournament play on Friday, Feb. 10 vs. Kentucky at 9 am before taking on Oklahoma at 11:15 am. Washington will also play against Illinois-Chicago (11:15 am) and Long Beach State (1:30 pm) on Saturday and tournament host UNLV on Sunday at 1 pm.

SEASON DEBUTS: Washington has opened each of its 13 seasons with a multiple-team tournament, accruing a 50-14 record. The Huskies have gone undefeated in four of those tournaments (1996, 2000, 2002, 2003) and are 10-3 in season openers.

SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:

KENTUCKY (20-41, 4-25 SEC in 2005)
Series vs. UW: First meeting
Notes: The Kentucky Wildcats are picked to finish fifth in the Southeastern Conference's East Division according to a preseason poll by the league's head coaches. UK returns 12 letterwinners, including four seniors, and welcomes seven newcomers for the 2006 campaign. Senior Megan Cooper is Kentucky's top-returner after hitting .233 with nine doubles and nine RBIs last season and leading the pitching staff with a 3.19 ERA. The Wildcats also return Washington natives Katie Campbell (Des Moines) and Alli Eckan (Washougal). Campbell, a junior, hit .218 with 17 RBIs, while Eckman hit .217 as a freshman with 18 RBIs.

NO. 12/13 OKLAHOMA (50-17, 12-6 Big-12 In 2005)
Series vs. UW: Oklahoma leads 6-5
Last meeting: Oklahoma handed Washington an 8-1 loss last season in Las Vegas. Kristin Vesely led the Sooners with three hits, while Heather Scaglione had three RBIs. UW's Ashley Boek had eight strikeouts but gave up 14 hits en route to the loss.
Notes: The Oklahoma Sooners are picked to finish fourth in the Big-12 Conference. They return a pair of All-American outfielders in Kristin Vesely and Norrelle Dickson. Last season, Vesley led the Big-12 with a .451 average, which ranked sixth in the NCAA and set an OU single-season record. Dickson ranked third on the team with a .361 clip and was second on the squad with 25 stolen bases. The Sooners lost four-time All-Big-12 pitcher Kami Keiter to graduation but have five pitchers on their roster. OU will look to senior Nicole Denes to take the reigns in the circle. Last season, Denes had an 8-1 mark and struck out 100 batters in 81.2 innings.

ILLINOIS-CHICAGO (40-27, 14-4 Horizon League In 2005)
Series vs. UW:The Huskies lead 6-0
Last meeting: Washington defeated UIC 8-5 last season on March 5 in Las Vegas. Kristen Rivera drove in five runs for UW, while Aimee Minor added two. Caitlin Noble took the win as she scattered six hits over 5.1 innings and struck out seven.
Notes: Illinois-Chicago is picked to win Horizon League. The Flames lost All-American Cameron Astiazaran to graduation but will look to Nicole Shepard (.365, 17 doubles) and Brittany Dixon (.323, 17 SAC hits) for offensive production. Brittany McIntyre is UIC's top returning pitcher after boasting a 21-14 record last season with a 3.42 ERA.

LONG BEACH STATE (39-16, 19-2 Big West)
Series vs. UW:The Huskies lead 7-1
Last meeting: Washington defeated LBSU 5-1 in eight innings on March 6 last season in Las Vegas. UW scored four runs in the eighth inning, including a three-run home run by Aimee Minor. Ashley Boek earned the win for the Huskies, pitching 2.2 innings of relief and allowing just one hit and striking out four.
Notes: Long Beach State is picked to finish second in the Big West Conference behind Cal State Fullerton after winning the league title last season. The Beach lost three-time conference Co-Pitcher of the Year Meredith Cervenka and two-time conference Co-Pitcher of the Year Marcel Torres to graduation but does return Freshman Field Player of the Year Jonae Perez.

UNLV (44-19, 17-3 MVC in 2005)
Series vs. UW:The Huskies lead 4-3
Last meeting: UNLV defeated Washington 7-5 on March 6 last season in Las Vegas. Marissa Nichols led the Rebels with two hits, while Sarah Hyatt and Ashley Charters had two hits each for the Huskies.
Notes: The Rebels are picked to finish second in the Mountain West Conference in the preseason coaches' poll. UNLV returns four All-MVC players, including NFCA All-American and MWC Freshman of the Year Marissa Nichols. Nichols hit .426 with 18 home runs in 2005. The Rebels also return Caitlyn Paus, who hit .327 with nine home runs, and sophomore pitcher Shannon Crisp, who had a 14-4 record last season with a 2.11 ERA. UNLV also welcomes Washington native Christie Robinson (Clinton), who was a three-time North Cascade Conference Player of the Year.

WASHINGTON IN THE POLLS: The Huskies are ranked 13th in the preseason USA Today/NFCA Coaches Top 25 poll. The Huskies have been ranked in the poll for each of the last 155 datings. Washington's streak began with the team's No. 15 preseason ranking in 1994 and also includes smaller streaks of 66 straight top 6 rankings (2/28/96 - preseason 2001 poll) and 69 consecutive poll datings in the top 10 (preseason 1996 - 2/28/01). Washington is ranked 14th in the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25 poll.

HUSKIES ON THE AIRWAVES: KKNW AM-1150, through rights-holder Pioneer Radio & Sports, will carry 10 Husky softball games during the regular season and will carry all postseason games. Longtime baseball play-by-play man Mike Brown returns for his ninth season behind the microphone, while John Cowley delivers color commentary for his sixth season with the Dawgs. All games will air live on KKNW, and are also available over the internet at www.gohuskies.com or www.newschannel1150.com.

UW PICKED SIXTH: Washington was selected to finish sixth in the league by the Pac-10 Conference softball coaches. Head Coach Heather Tarr, who begins her second season at the helm of the UW program, returns seven starters for the 2006 campaign, including five All-Pac-10 players. The Huskies finished sixth in the conference last season with a 10-11 record after four teams tied for first place with 13-8 records. UCLA (49 points) was picked to finish first, followed by Arizona (41), Stanford (37), California (27), Oregon State (26), UW (23), Arizona State (12) and Oregon (9).

ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The 16-player Washington roster includes nine returning letterwinners and seven returning starters. The 2006 team is comprised of two seniors, six juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen. Seven players hail from Washington, seven from California, one from Oregon and one from British Columbia.

HEAD COACH Heather Tarr: Heather Tarr, a former Washington player, embarks on her second season at the helm of the Husky Softball team. In her first year, Tarr led Washington to the Super Regional where the Huskies fell one game short of advancing to the program's eighth Women's College World Series. Seven Huskies earned All-Pac-10 honors, including Kristen Rivera, who was the Co-Pac-10 Player of the Year. Three Washington players earned All-Pacific Region honors and three were named to the Pac-10 All-Academic team. The Huskies tallied 13 wins over top-25 opponents, including No. 1 Michigan, No. 3 California and No. 4 Stanford. Tarr has a 35-22 career record at Washington.

TWO HUSKIES NAMED TO POTY WATCH LIST: Washington junior Dominique Lastrapes and freshman Danielle Lawrie are among 50 Division I players named to the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year watch list. Lastrapes is named to the list for the second consecutive year, while Lawrie is the only freshman on the list. The award, given out by the Amateur Softball Association, is considered one of the most prestigious honors in women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Past winners of the award include UCLA's Stacey Nuveman, Florida State's Jessica Van der Linden and two-time winner Texas pitcher Cat Osterman.

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