Champs Begin Title Defense This Week
Feb. 8, 2010
KAJIKAWA CLASSIC - Tempe, Ariz.
Thursday, Feb. 11
#1 Washington (2009 - 51-12) vs. Auburn (2009 - 30-29), 5 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 12
#1 Washington vs. Ohio (2009 - 22-27), 3:30 p.m.
#1 Washington vs. RV Nevada (2009 - 40-19), 6 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 13
#1 Washington vs. RV Cal State Northridge (2009 - 29-21), 6 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 14
#1 Washington vs. RV Notre Dame (2009 - 43-17), 9:30 a.m.
All Times Pacific
The unanimously No. 1-ranked Washington softball team opens up defense of their 2009 National Championship this week when they travel down to Tempe, Ariz., to play in the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State. The Huskies will face three teams that advanced to the 2009 NCAA Tournament and three teams that received votes in the 2010 preseason polls. The Huskies open their season Thursday, Feb. 11 at 5 p.m. PT against SEC foe Auburn. UW will then play two games on Friday against Ohio and Nevada before single games on Saturday and Sunday against Cal State Northridge and Notre Dame, respectively.
TOURNAMENT AT A GLANCE
The Kajikawa Classic is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the country, this year featuring 26 teams, including host and 2009 World Series participant Arizona State and eight-time national champion Arizona. This year marks the eighth time the Huskies have played in the tournament, the last time coming in 2008 when UW went 2-3 in Tempe.
BECOME A HUSKY FAN ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER
Fans can follow the Husky softball team and receive updates throughout the season on the UW Softball Twitter page by logging on to www.twitter.com/UWSoftball. Head coach Heather Tarr has her own Twitter account as well and fans can follow her at www.twitter.com/CoachTarr. The Huskies can also be found on Facebook via the Washington Softball fan page at www.facebook.com/UWHuskySoftball. And to become a fan of Danielle Lawrie, click here.
YEAR IN REVIEW
The Huskies finally captured the program's first national championship in its ninth trip to the Women's College World Series, sweeping then-No. 1 Florida, two-games-to-none, in the best-of-three Championship Series. Led by WCWS Most Outstanding Player Danielle Lawrie, the Huskies blew the Gators away, 8-0, in game one before a dramatic 3-2 series-clinching victory. Lawrie, who was also named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, went 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA in the World Series and All-American senior Ashley Charters capped her career by hitting .476 in the series.The Huskies also got clutch performances from underclassmen in the final week, with freshmen Kimi Pohlman and Niki Williams and sophomore Morgan Stuart being named All-College World Series while sophomore transfer Jenn Salling started showing signs of her All-American form as the season progressed.
UW's 51 wins were the fourth-most in school history and the championship was UW's first in its 17-year history. The Huskies also finished the Pac-10 season with a 14-7 record, finishing second to UCLA, their most conference wins and highest finish since 2000.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
2009: 30-29 (NCAA Regionals, 1-2)
Series vs. UW: Washington leads, 2-0
About Auburn: The Tigers return 12 players - including five starters and all three pitchers - to a team that went 30-29 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament before falling in the Atlanta Region. Senior pitcher Anna Thompson leads the way as the Tigers' career leader with 796 strikeouts, a mark that also ranks ninth in SEC history. The Huntsville, Ala., native also ranks first in Auburn history in lowest batting average against (.179), is fourth in wins (42) and holds the Auburn single-game record for strikeouts with 18 vs. Middle Tennessee. The Tigers have advanced to the NCAA Regionals in five of the last six years.
Series History: The Huskies have won both meetings in the series, which came in back-to-back years. UW won the first meeting between the two teams, a 1-0 victory in the 1998 NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga. The next year, UW and Auburn faced off again in the Easton Showcase in Fullerton, Calif., where UW came away with a 5-3 victory.
Series vs. UW: First Meeting
About Ohio: The Bobcats are coming off a 2009 season in which they went 12-10 in the MAC, their most conference victories since 2004. Ohio returns all but three players off last season's squad, including the Bobcats' five all-conference players from a year ago. Leading that group is sophomore Alexis Zambrana, who was First Team MAC as a freshman after ranking third in the conference in hitting in MAC play. The shortstop ranked second on the team in hitting at .376 and posted 44 hits and 21 RBIs.
Series History: This week marks the first-ever meeting between the two teams
RV Nevada Wolfpack
2009: 40-19 (NCAA Regionals, 1-2)
Series vs. UW: Washington leads, 5-0
About Nevada: The two-time defending Western Athletic Conference champions boast three players named to the Preseason All-WAC team, including senior pitcher Katie Holverson, who went 28-11 in 2009 en route to earning WAC Pitcher of the Year and All-Region honors. Also returning are senior third baseman Sam Bias, a first team All-WAC selection who batted .309 with eight home runs and 34 RBI, along with junior catcher Noelle Micka, a two-time first-team All-WAC selection who earned All-Region and second-team All-America honors in 2008.
Series History: The Huskies are a perfect 5-0 against Nevada, winning a doubleheader against the Wolfpack in their first meeting by scores of 22-1 and 14-0 in 2005. The first game saw UW set school records for hits (24) and home runs (6) in a game. Nevada's program - which started back again in 2003 after a 13-year hiatus - has come a long way since then, bridging the gap in their recent meetings. UW won in 2006, 10-2 before a narrow 5-2 victory in 2007 in the Palm Springs Classic. The Huskies just squeaked by again in their most recent match-up, a 2-0 win in the 2008 Husky Classic.
RV Cal State Northridge Matdors
Series vs. UW: CS Northridge leads 6-5
About Cal State Northridge: CSUN returns eight starters, three pitchers and 13 letterwinners from a team that went 29-21 in 2009, including a 9-12 mark in league play to finish tied for fourth. The team strung together an 11-game winning streak during the year to show some potential and will look to build on that with top pitcher, junior Debbie Duran, returning to the circle. An All-Big West Honorable Mention selection, Duran finished her first year at Northridge at 18-12 with a 2.43 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 176.0 innings of work, all of which were the top numbers among CSUN pitchers. She added two saves and 15 complete games on the year and also picked up notable victories over 2009 NCAA Tournament participants Texas, San Diego State and Fresno State.
Series History: The Matadors won the first four match-ups between the teams in the mid-'90s before the Huskies have come back to win five of the last seven. UW swept a 2000 doubleheader from CSUN to start a three-game winning streak before the Matadors got a win back in a 2001 doubleheader. UW won the next two in the series, including a 10-0 win in 2002 and an 8-5 win in 2004 before CSUN took a 6-5 edge in the series with a 5-1 win in the 2007 Judi Garman Classic.
RV Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2009: 43-17 (NCAA Regionals, 1-2)
Series vs. UW: Series tied, 1-1
About Notre Dame:The Irish are coming off another solid season in which they made their 11th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Notre Dame finished second in the Big East regular season standings before winning the conference tournament, but they fell to eventual Women's College World Series participant Michigan in the Regionals. The Irish return seven starters in 2010 including All-American infielder Christine Lux, who batted .329 with 15 home runs, along with junior pitcher Jody Valdivia, who went 19-5 with a 2.28 ERA last season.
Series History: The Huskies and Irish have faced each other just twice, splitting their match-ups. UW won the first meeting between the teams, 7-1, in 1996 before the Irish came back to even the series with a 3-2 win in 2001.
LET THERE BE LIGHTS!
After spending the final three weeks of the 2009 season on the road during the postseason because Husky Softball Stadium was not equipped with lights, the Huskies were lucky enough to get some generous donations from their supporters to install lights at the field for 2010. The Huskies, who will now be eligible to host postseason games, will play the first night game in the 18-year history of the program on Thursday, March 11 when they host Miami of Ohio at 5 p.m. in the first game of the Husky Softball Classic. All told, UW will play 11 of their17 home games this year under the lights.
LIGHTENING THE LOAD
After playing one of the most difficult schedules in the country last season, the Huskies lighten there load just a skosh in 2010, but still face some tough competition. As always, the Pac-10 conference is one of the strongest in the nation, with six teams ranked in the nation's top-10, including No. 1 UW. The Huskies will play 18 teams that advanced to the 2009 NCAA Tournament and have 19 games scheduled against teams ranked in the preaseason top 25.
After taking 17 years to win their first title, the Huskies will look to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Arizona in 2006 and '07 and just the sixth team overall. The Huskies return National Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie, All-American shortstop Jenn Salling and Women's College World Series All-Tournament selections Kimi Pohlman, Morgan Stuart and Niki Williams in hopes of going back-to-back.
While the Huskies lost some key players from their national championship-winning team, they return the key cog in 2009 National Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie. Lawire, who also won the Honda Award and the WCWS Most Outstanding Player award, will look to become just the second player ever to win the National Player of the Year award twice following her record-breaking 2009 season.
The senior went 42-8 in 2009 with a 0.97 ERA and 521 strikeouts, the latter of which was one shy of the Pac-10 single-season record. She was at her best in the postseason, where she went 10-2 with a 1.51 ERA, including an epic 15-inning, 24-strikeout performance in the loser-out NCAA Regional Final against UMass where she threw 251 pitches - in her second game of the day, no less. Lawrie then went 5-1 in the World Series with a 1.55 ERA and 49 stirkeouts - and also made an impact with her bat with a grand slam in the semifinal win over Georgia - to become the first player to ever earn POY honors and win a National Championship in the same year.
With 1,365 career strikeouts, Lawrie goes into the 2010 season fifth in Pac-10 history and 13th in NCAA history. While she already owns nearly every Husky pitching record, she is still four wins shy of become the school's all-time leader in that category.
LAWRIE, POHLMAN NAMED POY CANDIDATES
Defending Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie and sophomore Kimi Pohlman were two of the 50 players named to the 2010 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year watch list. Lawrie will look to join three-time winner Cat Osterman as the only multiple winners of the award. Pohlman, meanwhile, is one of just six sophomores on the list. She was second in the squad last year with a .360 average and went 20-for-21 in steal attempts, also coming on strong at the end of the season, batting .375 in the WCWS.
The ASA will announce the 25 finalists on April 7. A player does not have to appear on this initial watch list to be considered as a top 25 finalist, however once the top 25 finalists are named the winner of the award will come from that list. Freshmen qualify for the top 25 list once they have competed at the collegiate level. Just days before the start of post-season play, a list of 10 finalists will be named and released on May 12. The final three finalists will be announced May 26 while the winner of the 2010 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced prior to the start of the 2010 NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS
The Huskies head into the season ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history, earning the top spot unanimously in the NFCA/USA Today poll while earning 17 of 20 first-place votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
UW finished last season atop both polls after winning the Women's College World Series and they return six starters from that squad including National Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie. Alabama, a WCWS semifinalist last year, is No. 2 in both polls while six of the eight Pac-10 teams are in the nation's top 12 (Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, California, Stanford, UCLA).
HUSKIES PICKED TO WIN PAC-10
The Huskies were picked to finish first in the Pac-10 conference in a vote of league coaches, receiving the maximum seven first-place votes. Arizona was picked to finish second while UCLA, last year's Pac-10 champ who received the only other first-place vote, finished third. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team to win the conference. Arizona State, the 2008 national champion, and Stanford tied for fourth while California, one of five Pac-10 teams with a World Series title, was picked sixth. Oregon and Oregon State rounded out the vote in seventh and eighth, respectively.
UW was picked to finish third last year before finishing second to UCLA with a 14-7 mark. The Pac-10 has won 22 of the 27 NCAA Division I softball championships, including the last four straight, and will look to add to that mark in 2010.
Washington has opened each of its 17 seasons with a multiple-team tournament, accruing a 64-17-1 record. The Huskies have gone undefeated in five of those tournaments (1996, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009), including a 5-0 mark in last year's Red Desert Classic, and are 13-4 in season openers after defeating Tennessee, 2-1, last year.
TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW
The Huskies started the 2009 season in record fashion en route to their first national championship, winning their first 18 games of the season to smash the previous best start of 10-0 by the 2002 team. The Huskies could challenge that mark this season as they do not face a ranked team until the 12th game of the year when they face No. 12 Oklahoma in the Cathedral City Classic. Should they get past that obstacle, they don't face another top-20 team until the 26th game of the season.
BIG SHOES TO FILL
While no one expects Kimi Pohlman to duplicate Ashley Charters' 2009 season, which was one of the greatest in Husky history, the sophomore should fill in nicely in the leadoff spot vacated by the three-time All-American. Pohlman had an oustanding freshman campaign, earning Second Team All-Region and All-Pac-10 honors, finishing second on the Husky squad with a .360 average, which included a .361 mark in conference games. Pohlman came up big for UW in the postseason as well, batting .350, including a .375 mark in the World Series to earn All-Tournament honors. The rookie wasn't fazed by pressure at any point in the season, coming up with game-winning hits in wins over then-No. 2 Florida in the Cathedral City Classic, and UCLA ace Megan Langenfeld in Pac-10 play.
A FRESH START
Last year, 2007 All-American Jenn Salling had the tough task of joining the Husky midway through the season in Pac-10 play after sitting out nearly a full year from competition. The transfer took a year off to train with Canada and play in the 2008 Olympic Games before joining the Huskies for their Pac-10 opener. While she started slowly, going 0-for-12 in her first four games, the shortstop gradually got her timing back and by the time the Huskies needed her most in the NCAA postseason, she was back displaying the skills that made her a First Team All-American as a freshman.
Salling went into the postseason with a .146 average (7x48) but went on a tear at the NCAA Regionals in Amherst, Mass., leading the team with a .571 average (8x14), reaching safely in 11 of 17 plate appearances. Overall in the postseason, Salling hit .415 (17x41) to raise her overall average to .270. Despite playing in half of the team's games, she still managed to rank tied for sixth on the squad with five doubles and seventh with 16 walks, proving she could be a huge asset to the team even while working her way back into form.
HUSKIES ON THE AIRWAVES
The Huskies will appear on television quite a few times in 2009, with UWTV broadcasting several games live throughout the year. Additionally, Fox Sports Net will televise UW's May 7 game in Seattle against Stanford. Stay tuned for a complete UWTV schedule in addition to the KKNW-1150 AM radio schedule.
STRONG ROOKIE CLASS
The Huskies lost seven players from last year's National Championship winning team - including four starters - but a talented crop of six freshmen could step right in and pick up the slack. UW's offense could receive a big boost from Chino, Calif., native Hooch Fagaly, who showed some pop in her bat in the fall. Another California native, Jerrin Fa'asua is slated to step into Ashley Charters shoes at second base and will also carry a mighty bat. There will also be some much-needed help for Danielle Lawrie in-state product Baily Harris, who will add some depth to the circle. The third Californian in the class, Shawna Wright, will look to step into Alicia Blake's spot behind the plate while Washington natives Amanda Fitzsimmons, the 2009 Gatorade State Player of the Year, and Maggie Wagner can play all over the field and hit for both average and power.
TOMORROW | 7:30pm PTLive
Thu 2/22 | 6:00pm PTLive