No. 1 Huskies Head For Southeast Showdown

March 4, 2009

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EASTON SEC/PAC-10/BIG 12 CHALLENGE - TUSCALOOSA, ALA.

UGA Softball Stadium • All Times Pacific

Friday, March 6
No. 1/3 Washington vs. No. 24 Baylor, 11:00 a.m.
No. 1/3 Washington vs. No. 3/1 Alabama, 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 7
No. 1/3 Washington vs. No. 11/12 Georgia, 9 a.m.
No. 1/3 Washington vs. No. 3/1 Alabama, 11:30 a.m.

Sunday, March 8
No. 1/3 Washington vs. No. 11/12 Georgia, 9 a.m.

All games available via Gametracker

THIS WEEK
The No. 1/3 Washington Husky softball team hits the road again to face some tough competition as they play five games - all against ranked teams - in the Easton SEC/Pac-10/Big 12 Challenge in Tuscaloosa, Ala. In what is arguably the best four-team tournament in the country this season, the No. 1 team in each national poll will face off twice over the weekend, with the No. 1 Huskies (ESPN.com/USA Softball) and No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (USA Today/NFCA) going toe-to-toe at Alabama's home stadium twice. The Huskies will also face No. 11/12 Georgia twice as well as No. 24 Baylor, which defeated No. 2 Florida earlier this season.

Over 2,000 fans are expected to pack UGA Softball Stadium in a potential Women's College World Series preview. The Tide, which advanced to the WCWS last season, will be looking for a little revenge after getting knocked out of the 2007 postseason by the Huskies in Seattle while also falling to UW at the Husky Softball Classic as the No. 1 team in the land last spring.

FOLLOW THE ACTION LIVE
All Husky games this weekend will be available via Gametracker on www.gohuskies.com, while live audio will be available at www.rolltide.com. Additionally, fans can chat live and follow an in-game blog on GoHuskies.com.

Fans can also follow along for occasional updates during the season on the UW Softball Twitter page by logging on to www.twitter.com/UWSoftball. The Huskies can also be found on Facebook via the Washington Softball fan page at the following link:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Washington-Husky-Softball/46364349899

NUMERO UNO
The Huskies 17-0 start has given them their first No. 1 ranking since the 2000 season. UW used a 5-0 weekend in the Cathedral City Classic two weeks ago, which included a 1-0 win over No. 2 Florida, to move into the top spot in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. With a 3-0 mark in last weekend's rain shortened Husky Softball Classic, UW stayed at No. 1 for the second consecutive week. It is the first time the Huskies have ever been ranked No. 1 in the ESPN.com poll, which has been in existence since 2003.

UW made a steady rise up the polls over the first three weeks of the season, going from No. 15 to No. 7 to No. 3 to No. 1 in the ESPN.com poll while improving from No. 21 to No. 10 to No. 7 to No. 3 in the NFCA/USA Today poll since the preseason.

The Huskies finished the 2008 season unranked - the first time since the program's inaugural season in 1993 UW did not finish the season ranked - but they are now up to their highest ranking since they went into the 2000 Women's College World Series as the top team in the land.

SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:

No. 3/1 Alabama (13-1 2009, 58-8 2008)
Series vs. UW: UW leads 3-0
About Alabama:The Crimson Tide are the No. 1 ranked team in the NFCA/USA Today Top 25 poll, holding onto that spot since the second week of the season. The Tide went 58-8 last season and advanced to the Women's College World Series before falling to eventual champion Arizona State.

Alabama returns eight starters this season, including All-American Brittany Rogers, who leads the team with a .448 average. The Tide also returns All-American Kelsi Dunne to the circle, who has a perfect 6-0 record this season with a 0.56 ERA. Two more All-Americans sit in the middle of the lineup in Charlotte Morgan and Kelley Montalvo, who have each gone yard three times this season. Alabama's lone loss came to No. 3/4 UCLA, 4-1, in the Cathedral City Classic but the Tide bounced back to defeat No. 5/6 Oklahoma, 4-3.

Series History: The Huskies have had Alabama's number in the team's three meetings which have all come in the last two seasons. UW swept the Crimson Tide in the 2007 Super Regionals in Seattle, defeating then-No. 11 Alabama, 4-3 and 7-5. Last season, the Crimson Tide came to Seattle again for the Husky Softball Classic, this time as the No. 1 team in the country. On the strength of Ashlyn Watson's grand slam, the Huskies knocked off the Tide, 6-3.

No. 24 Baylor (17-3 2009, 23-22 2008 )
Series vs. UW: Series tied 1-1
About Baylor: The Lady Bears, 2007 Women's College World Series participants, are off to a strong start at 17-3 this season which includes a win over No. 2 Florida, the only team besides Washington to beat the Gators this season.

Baylor is led by Alex Colyer, who is hitting .443 this season, one of four Lady Bears hitting over .400. All-American Brette Reagan, meanwhile, has supplied the power, knocking five balls out of the park in 2009. Freshman Whitney Canion has been solid in the circle, going 10-2 with a 1.03 ERA and 117 strikeouts.

Series History: The teams played twice during the 2006 season in Waco, Texas, the only two meetings between the Bears and Huskies. UW dropped the first game, 6-5, on March 4 before coming back to shutout BU, 2-0, on March 5.

No. 11/12 Georgia (12-1 2009, 46-24 2008)
Series vs. UW: UW leads 4-1
About Georgia: The Bulldogs nearly advanced to their first Women's College World Series last season before falling to UCLA in the NCAA Super Regionals. Their returnees include sophomore Alisa Goler who is hitting an incredible .615 (24x39) this season with nine home runs in 13 games.

Christie Hamilton and Sarah McCloud have shared most of the duties in the circle with each winning five games, while Hamilton has a team-best 0.45 ERA.

Series History: Prior to their Super Regional sweep of Alabama in 2007, the Huskies had to first get past Georgia in the Regionals in Lincoln, Neb. UW won the first game, 8-0, but on elimination Sunday, the Bulldogs forced a third-and-deciding game with a 2-1 win in nine innigs on a walk-off home run. In the deciding game, the Huskies advanced with a 1-0 victory on Alicia Blake's walk-off single and Danielle Lawrie held the Bulldogs to just four hits in the contest.

The Huskies won the first two meetings between the teams in 2001 (7-4) and 2004 (3-1), the latter of which also came in the NCAA Regionals to send UW to the Women's College World Series.

LAST WEEK
The Huskies made their home debut last weekend, hosting the fourth annual Husky Softball Classic. UW went 3-0, defeating Seattle, 8-0, and Portland State, 11-1, by the mercy rule while earning a second victory over Portland State on Sunday, 8-2, in a game shortened to five innings due to rain. UW's final game against Boise State was rained out.

UW had seven players hit over .400 on the weekend, led by Morgan Stuart, who batted .714 (5x7) with a run and three RBI, along with seniors Alicia Blake (.625, 5x8, 4 R, 7 RBI), Ashley Charters (.600, 6x10, 5 R, 1 HR) and Ashlyn Watson (.444, 4x9, 4 R, 2 RBI). The Huskies also got contributions from their freshmen, as Felecia Harris went deep twice over the weekend - including a grand slam - and Kimi Pohlman also went deep. The Huskies twice hit back-to-back home runs and batted .417 as a team. Danielle Lawrie earned all three wins in the circle, allowing no earned runs and just four hits in 14.0 innings while striking out 26.

THE STREAK IS OVER... KIND OF
While Danielle Lawrie still has not allowed an earned run in 66.1 innings, she will have to start a new streak if she's going to challenge the Pac-10 or NCAA record. Lawrie allowed her first runs in 64 innings Sunday when Portland State managed to score two unearned runs off the All-American.

Lawrie retired the first batter of the third inning against the Vikings and looked to have the second out when she struck out her fifth batter of the game, but the ball snuck by catcher Alicia Blake, allowing the Vikings batter to reach first. After an error by Lawrie and the second out of the inning, Jackie Heide ripped what would turn out to be PSU's only hit, a two-run triple to right center. Lawrie settled down and did not allow a hit the rest of the way to earn her 12th win. She has not allowed an earned run since giving up two against Loyola Marymount on Feb. 7.

QUITE A STREAK
Lawrie's streak of 64.1 consecutive scoreless innings ties Cat Osterman with the 16th longest streak in NCAA history. In the Pac-10 annals, it ranks as the seventh-longest streak behind such names as UCLA's Lisa Fernandez and Cal's Jocelyn Forest.

As impressive as it was, she was still far from either the Pac-10 or NCAA records for scoreless innings streaks. The NCAA record is 105 held by Massachusetts' Danielle Henderson (3/16-5/2, 1999) while the Pac-10 record is held by Debbie Doom, who went 102 consecutive innings without allowing a run in 1984.

During the streak, Lawrie went 11-0 with eight complete-game shutouts and struck out 119 batters while walking just 11.

ROLLING, ROLLING, ROLLING
The Huskies' current 17-game winning streak is the third-longest in school history and the longest since the 2000 team won a school record 23-games in a row. The 2000 team - also the last Husky squad to be ranked No. 1 - went 9-0 before falling to LSU, then won 23 in a row to start the season 32-1.

NEARING A K OF Ks
With 977 career Ks, Lawrie is in rare company as she and Stanford senior Missy Penna are the only active pitchers in Division I softball with 900 or more strikeouts. She needs just 23 more to reach the 1,000 milestone and 165 more to break into the NCAA Top-25 career leaders in Ks. Lawrie's 11.1 strikeouts per seven innings ratio is No. 5 all time, behind such names as Cat Osterman, Monica Abbott and Angela Tincher.

BLAKE STARTING TO RAKE
Alicia Blake led the Huskies last year witha .345 average and seven home runs and after a slow start to the season the senior has been swinging a hot bat for the Huskies.

In the last nine games, Blake is batting .560 (14x25) with three three-hit games. She has also scored 10 and driven in 10 in that span, including two games where she drove in three runs. In those nine games, Blake has raised her average from .261 to an even .400. She is second on the team in runs (11), hits (20) and RBI (13) and her average ranks third. Most importantly, she has been a steady force behind the plate, calling all the pitches for ace Danielle Lawrie.

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