No. 1 Huskies Head To Oregon For First-Place Showdown With Ducks
April 15, 2010
No. 1 Washington (33-3, 5-1) at No. 17 Oregon (29-6, 5-1)
Howe Field - Eugene, Ore.
Friday, April 16 - 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 17 - 1 p.m.
Sunday, April 18 - 12 p.m.
Live stats for all games available on GoHuskies.com
The No. 1 Washington softball team (33-3, 5-1), coming off a huge weekend sweep of then-No. 2 Arizona, hits the road for the first time in conference play this week to face No. 17 Oregon (29-6, 5-1) in a three-game series at Howe Field in Eugene, Ore. The series features the top two teams in the conference as both the Huskies and Ducks have just one blemish on their Pac-10 records through the first two weeks of play. The series kicks off Friday night at 6 p.m. before a 1 p.m. contest on Saturday and a Noon match-up on Sunday. Oregon has already surpassed their conference win total from three of the last four seasons, while the Huskies will look to stay in first in hopes of their first conference title since 2000 after finishing second last year.
Live stats will be available via GoDucks.com with a link also available on GoHuskies.com Additinally, fans can view a live webcast with commentary via the Oregon website, which is avilable for a $9.95 montly subscription. Please note, subscriptions auto-renew every month so be sure to cancel your subscription following the weekend's games.
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 and National Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie have their own Twitter accounts as well and fans can follow them at www.twitter.com/CoachTarr and www.twitter.com/daniellelawrie5. The Huskies can also be found on Facebook via the Washington Softball fan page at www.facebook.com/UWHuskySoftball. To become a fan of Danielle Lawrie, search Facebook for Danielle Lawrie.
HUSKIES NEARING PROGRAM MILESTONE
With three wins last weekend, the Huskies are now just two wins shy of the 800th win in program history, which they could reach this weekend. The Husky program began in 1993 with a 31-27 record and since then, UW has made 16 consecutive NCAA postseason appearances, winning at least 40 games in 13 of those campaigns. The Huskies won a school-record 62 games in 2000 and won 51 in their national-championship winning season last year, the sixth 50-win season in program history. UW has already reached 30 wins this season, something the program has done every year of its existence. The Huskies have averaged 45 wins per season over the 17-year history of the program.
LEADERS OF THE PAC
After sweeping the series from Arizona last week and taking two of three from UCLA over the opening weekend, the Huskies sit atop the Pac-10 standings with a 5-1 record. The last time the Huskies started 5-1 in country's toughest conference was 2004 when UW won two games apiece from Arizona State and UCLA before dropping one game to Oregon but bouncing back to defeat Oregon State twice to start 6-1. The 2000 team started 9-1 in conference, the best in program history, before finishing 17-4 to tie for the Pac-10 title.
In addition to tying Alicia Hollowell's Pac-10 record for Player of the Week honors, Danielle Lawrie is also chasing down the Arizona legend for the conference career strikeout record. With 39 strikeouts last weekend, she went over the 1,600 mark and now has 1,627 to put her just 13 shy of California legend Michelle Granger for third in Pac-10 history and seventh in NCAA history. Lawrie is also 43 behind Arizona State's Katie Burkhart for second and sixth, respectively, and 141 behind all-time conference leader Hollowell, who is fifth in NCAA history with 1,768 Ks.
2010: 29-6, 5-1
2009: 16-34, 3-18
Series vs. UW: Washington leads, 43-14
About Oregon: The Ducks are well on their way to one of the biggest turnarounds in recent NCAA history as they have nearly doubled their win total from last season and have two more Pac-10 victories after two weeks than they did all last year. Under new head coach Mike White, Oregon is leading the conference in average (.338) and ERA (1.50). The Ducks are coming off a three-game sweep of Cal last weekend, their first series sweep in five years. Junior Monique Fuiava drove in the game-winner in two of the three games to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week honors and sophomore pitcher Samantha Skillingstad earned two victories to improve to 9-4. Freshman Jessica Moore has also been strong in the circle with a 13-2 record and 1.12 ERA and fellow rookie Sam Pappas has been a menace at the plate, leading the conference with a .477 average and posting team highs in home runs (11) and RBI (40).
Series History: The Huskies swept the season series from the Ducks last year, 3-0, their second in the last three years. UW has won the season series in five consecutive seasons against Oregon, going back to UO's last series win in 2004. The Ducks also won the series in 2003 to snap a 10-game losing streak to the Dawgs. UW won last year by scores of 2-0 in Eugene and 11-0 and 8-2 in Seattle. Danielle Lawrie struck out a seven-inning season high 18 in the finale.
The Huskies made program history over the weekend with their first-ever season-series sweep of Arizona. The Huskies won all three games in the match-up between the nation's No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams. Danielle Lawrie shut down the country's highest-scoring offense all weekend, winning all three games and allowing just four runs in 21 innings while striking out 39. Freshman Shawna Wright continued to come up with the big hits, driving in a team-high five RBI over the weekend with all three of her hits going for extra bases. She hit a two-run home run off Arizona ace Kenzie Fowler in the second inning of game two, putting UW ahead 2-0 and they never looked back, winning 7-0. On Sunday, Wright went 2-for-3 with three RBI, blasting two doubles, one a two-run double in the third inning to put UW up 3-0 and the second an RBI double in the fifth to make it 5-2. Friday's game was the nail-biter everyone expected, with UW squeezing out a 2-1 win, but the Husky offense dominated Arizona's pitching the rest of the weekend, giving UW series wins over Arizona and UCLA in the same season for the first time in school history.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS
The Huskies retained the No. 1 spot in both national polls this week, something they have done all 10 weeks of the season since the preseason polls were released. They also returned to their unanimous standing in both polls, receiving all 30 first-place votes in the NFCA poll and all 25 in the ESPN.com poll after a weekend sweep of then-No. 2 Arizona.
The Huskies started 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. Seven of the eight Pac-10 teams are now ranked, with five of those seven in the top 10 (Washington, Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State and Stanford).
Looking at the statistics, it's maybe not surprising the Huskies are 5-1 in conference play but is a bit surprising they outscored UCLA and Arizona, 28-8, in those six games when some of their best hitters for the majority of the season have yet to click against conference pitching. Three of UW's most reliable hitters - Niki Williams, Danielle Lawrie and Morgan Stuart - are hitting a combined .140 (7-for-50) with just five RBI through the first two weeks of Pac-10 play. Jenn Salling, meanwhile, is hitting well in conference but her .296 average is nearly .100 points shy of her overall season average. Thankfully, a trio of underclassmen have picked up the slack as freshmen Shawna Wright and Hooch Fagaly and sophomore Kimi Pohlman have led the way, totaling 17 hits between them while the rest of the team has 20 hits in conference play combined. The trio is hitting .370 (17-for-46) with 10 runs and 11 RBI in the first two weeks against some of the best teams in softball.
LAWRIE TIES PAC-10 RECORD, EARNS NATIONAL RECOGNITION
With her fourth Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honor this week after holding No. 2 Arizona in check, Danielle Lawrie racked up her 14th career conference honor, moving her into a tie for the conference record with Arizona great Alicia Hollowell. Lawrie is now also just two shy of equaling her own single-season record of six weekly honors set last year.
Lawrie was also named the USA Softball National Player of the Week this week for her performance against the Wildcats. She shut down the nation's highest-scoring offense three times, allowing just four runs in 21.0 innings while striking out 39 and walking just four. She threw one shutout and held Arizona scoreless for 12 consecutive innings over the three games at one point, shutting down the Cats in the final inning Friday, throwing seven scoreless Saturday and holding Arizona without a run through the first four innings on Sunday. The Langley, B.C., native struck out at least 12 in every game, including a high of 14 on Friday before backing it up with 12 on Saturday and 13 on Sunday, while not walking a batter in the final game.
As head coach Heather Tarr predicted, the Huskies have been hitting home runs at a high rate this year, belting 45 in 36 games after hitting 51 in 63 games all last year. UW had just 31 home runs through 36 games last season and it took until their 57th game of the season in the NCAA Super Regionals on May 24 to reach the amount they have this year already. The Huskies have hit at least one home run in 24 of 33 games and have 13 multi-home run games after just 14 all last year. In fact, the Huskies have hit three or more home runs eight times this year, something they did just twice all last year. They had not gone more than two games without a homer this year until UCLA kept them in the park for all three games and Arizona held them without a home run the first game of their series, but they jacked two homers in the second game to break the distance drought.
HUSKIES REPRESENT IN NATIONAL STATS
The Huskies appear highly in national statistical rankings, most notably ranking 10th in fielding percentage (.975) and 12th in scoring average (6.58/game). The Huskies also come in at 13th in ERA (1.61), 18th in home runs per game (1.325), 19th in slugging percentage (.522) and 24th in average (.317). Individually, Jenn Salling is ranked 11th in the country in runs per game (1.14) while she and Kimi Pohlman are tied for 18th in the country in triples (4).
WRIGHT HITS AT THE RIGHT TIME
Freshman Shawna Wright has shown a knack for getting her hits when it means the most. The rookie, who hit a game-winning, pinch-hit home run for her first career hit, still has more RBI (35) than hits (31) with her 35 RBI ranking second on the team. The more runners are on base, the better Wright gets as she is hitting .265 with the bases empty, .328 with runners on base and .333 with the bases loaded. She is also batting .500 (6-for-12) with a runner on third and less than two outs.
Wright has really picked up her game in conference play, leading the team through the first two weeks with a .400 average (6-for-15) and nine RBI with all six of her hits going for extra bases. She had three doubles against UCLA - including a game-winning two-run double in a 3-1 win in the second game - then added two more doubles and a home run against Arizona last weekend. Through two weekends, she leads the conference in doubles in Pac-10 games and also ranks second in RBI (9), third in slugging percentage (.933) and fifth in average (.400). Overall for the season, she is tied for the conference lead in sacrifice flies (3) and ranks fifth with 10 doubles.
Where freshman Shawna Wright has been equally as impressive in her rookie year has been behind the plate, where she's been working well with Danielle Lawrie and has been tough to run on. Earlier this season, Wright gunned down Purdue's Lianne Horiuchi to snap her streak of 63 consecutive stolen bases, which was the longest active streak in then nation and is the fifth-longest in NCAA history. The freshman has caught six of 15 would-be base stealers and has also picked three runners off the bases, both of which lead the Pac-10 conference.
A WALK IN THE PARK
Freshman Hooch Fagaly has apparently struck fear in the hearts of conference pitching, or she just has a keen set of eyes. Fagaly has drawn eight walks in six conference games this year, which ranks second in the league.She has drawn at least one walk in all six games and going back to the end of non-conference play, Fagaly has an eight-game walking streak. She has drawn two walks in a game three times this year, including her second-career game back in February. Overall, the rookie has drawn 16 bases on balls this year to rank third on the team. When she is pitched to, Fagaly has proven to be a solid hitter, batting .313 with four doubles and 12 RBI. She is hitting .333 in conference play, including three hits and two RBI last weekend in UW's sweep of No. 2 Arizona.