Huskies Begin Title Defense At Home This Weekend
May 18, 2010
Husky Softball Stadium - Seattle, Wash.
All games live on ESPNU
All UW games live on KKNW 1150 AM
Live stats for all games available via Gametracker
Tickets: All Reserved Seats Sold Out, Limited General Admission Available
Standing Room Tickets Available All Days - 15 minutes prior to game time
Friday, May 21
Nebraska (29-27) vs. North Carolina (40-18), 2:30 p.m. (Game 1)
North Dakota State (33-23) at No. 3 Washington (45-6), 5 p.m. (Game 2)
Saturday, May 22
Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 3 p.m. (Game 3)
Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 5:30 p.m. (Game 4)
Game 4 Winner vs. Game 3 Loser, 8 p.m. (Game 5)
Sunday, May 23
Game 3 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner, 2:30 p.m. (Game 6)
Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser, 5 p.m. (if nec.) (Game 7)
The No. 1 ranked - but No. 3 seed - Washington Huskies will make their 17th consecutive NCAA postseason appearance this week and first as the defending National Champions when they host one of 16 NCAA Regionals at Husky Softball Stadium. The Huskies (46-5, 17-4) are coming off one of their most successful non-conference seasons in school history, including winning the Pac-10 Conference for the third time in school history; it was their first since 2000 and the first out-right title since 1996. UW will host Nebraska, North Carolina and North Dakota State in Seattle, with the Tar Heels and Cornhuskers kicking the double elimination event off Friday at 2:30 p.m. before UW takes the field against NDSU at 5 p.m. All games during the weekend with air live on ESPNU. The winner of this weekend's Regional will advance to face the winner of the College Park Region featuring No. 14 Oklahoma, host Maryland, Syracuse and Fordham.
TOURNAMENT AT A GLANCE
The Huskies earned the No. 3 overall seed for the tournament behind No. 1 Alabama from the SEC and No. 2 Michigan from the Big 10. UW is one of seven Pac-10 teams in the tournament - equaling the SEC and Big 12 for most in the tournament - and they are one of five teams seeded from the conference, joining No. 5 UCLA, No. 10 Arizona, No. 11 Cal and No. 13 Arizona State. The Pac-10 has won 22 of the 27 NCAA Division I softball championships, including the last four straight. The 64-team tournament is made up of 30 teams that earned automatic bids while 34 teams received at-large bids. The Huskies have defeated 15 of the 64 teams (25-5 record) in the tournament including seven of the 15 other seeded teams (12-3 record).
REGIONAL TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets are going fast for this weekend's games, with all three sessions already sold out for reserved seating. Limited amounts of general admission seating is still available by calling the Husky ticket office at 206-543-5000. Additionally, fans can purchase standing-room only tickets 15 minutes prior to each game for $3.
FOLLOW THE ACTION LIVE
All games in this weekend's Seattle Regional can be seen live on ESPNU, starting with Friday's 2:30 contest between North Carolina and Nebraska and the 5 p.m. match-up between UW and North Dakota State. Cara Capuano and former USA Olympian Michele Smith will call the action all weekend. All games involving Washington, meanwhile, can be heard live on KKNW 1150 AM. As always, all games can be followed on Gametracker via the Huskies official website, www.GoHuskies.com.
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.
The Huskies earned the No. 3 seed for the NCAA Tournament, the same seed they earned for last year's tournament before going on to win the Women's College World Series. UW has been seeded No. 1 overall just once in their history, which came in 2000 but they went on to finish just fifth at the WCWS. The No. 3 seed equals the second-highest ranking for UW in school history, something they have done twice before and has brought them good luck each time. Besides last year's national-champion three-seed, UW was also picked third in 1999, going on to finish as national runner-up.
HOME SWEET HOME
UW will host a regional for the first time since 2000. The last time they hosted any postseason was the 2007 Super Regionals when they defeated Alabama to advance to the Women's College World Series. Last year, the Huskies spent the entire postseason on the road, going from NCAA Regionals in Amherst, Mass., straight to Atlanta, Ga., for Super Regionals before flying directly to Oklahoma City for the World Series. This year, UW could spend the first two weekends at home before getting on a plane to OKC in June.
With their 16-1 record at Husky Softball Stadium this season, the Huskies completed the most successful regular-season home record in school history, just edging last year's squad which went 15-1. UW won their first five games in Seattle before falling to UCLA but went on to win their next 11 in front of the home crowd. The longest home winning streak in school history is a 15-gamer held by the 1996 team, which went 18-2 overall at Husky Softball Stadium en route to its first World Series appearance. UW could break that record this year should they sweep three games in NCAA Regionals and two in NCAA Super Regionals. UW is averaging 1,332 fans per game at Husky Softball Stadium this year including back-to-back season highs their final weekend of 2,080 and 2,159.
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 cashed in on making themselves eligible for postseason by earning an NCAA Regional host site, played the first night game in the 15-year history of Husky Softball Stadium on Thursday, March 11 when they hosted Miami of Ohio in the first game of the Husky Softball Classic. The Huskies didn't disappoint their home crowd as reigning National Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie fired a perfect game to lead UW to a 3-0 win. All told, UW has played 11 of its 17 home games this year under the lights.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS
The Huskies retained the No. 1 spot in the USA Softball poll this week (the NFCA did not release one), something they have done all 15 weeks since the preseason polls were released. And after two straight weeks of feeling some pressure from No. 2 Michigan, the Huskies were the unanimous choice the last two weeks, something they've done eight times in the NFCA poll and seven times in the USA Softball poll. While they were not the unanimous pick this week, the Huskies became the first team since the USA Softball poll's inception in 2003 to remain at No. 1 all season. No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 UCLA and No. 6 Arizona have all received No. 1 votes during the season but never enough to shake the Huskies
The only poll where UW does not rank No. 1 is in the RPI, which takes strength of schedule into consideration. UW is No. 2 in that poll behind Alabama. The Huskies started the season ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history. Seven of the eight Pac-10 teams are currently ranked, with four of those seven in the top 10 (Washington, Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State).
HUSKY POSTSEASON HISTORY
The Huskies are making their 17th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, missing out only during their inaugural season in 1993. Washington has a 72-31 record in postseason (47-12 Regionals/5-4 Super Regionals/20-15 WCWS) and has advanced to the Women's College World Series nine times (1996-2000, `03, `04, `07, `09), finally winning the National Championship last year with a 2-0 sweep over Florida in the best-of-three championship series.
The Huskies had previously advanced to the national championship game in both 1996 and `99. Their 17-straight tournament appearances is tied for the fifth-longest active streak with Oklahoma, while their 72 wins in the tournament are fifth-best in NCAA history. Additonally, UW's nine WCWS appearances are tied for the fifth-most in history with Michigan.
2009 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.
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.
With a three-game sweep of Stanford two weekends ago, and with UCLA and Arizona each losing the same weekend, the Huskies clinched their third Pac-10 title in school history and first since 2000. UW then made sure it wouldn't have to share the crown when they won two-of-three from Arizona State last weekend, clinching its first outright title since 1996, the year the Huskies won their first conference championship and went on to finish as the NCAA runner-up.
The Huskies finished with a record of 17-4 in Pac-10, winning all seven series they played, three via sweep. Their 17 wins equals the most by a Husky team since the conference shifted to a 21-game format in 2000. That year, the team also went 17-4 and shared the Pac-10 title with Arizona. The 1996 team won the crown with a 23-4 record. After taking two-of-three at Arizona State last weekend, UW joined the 2000 team as the only ones in school history to win every conference season series.
The Huskies made their Pac-10 title official with a series win at Arizona State, bouncing back from a 6-5 opening loss to take the final two games, 5-4 and 9-0, the latter of which came in five innings. The Huskies rested Danielle Lawrie on Thursday but nearly had enough offense to win the game, coming back from deficits of 5-0 and 6-2 with home runs off the bats of Lawrie and Taylor Smith to make it interesting. They scored five runs in the final three innings but fell just short. On Friday, Lawrie and Smith struck again, each going yard for the second straight day, with Lawrie hitting the game-winner in the seventh while also earning the victory in the circle. In the finale, the Husky bats exploded for nine runs on 10 hits, with Lawrie going 3-for-3 with five RBI and breaking the Pac-10's all-time career strikeout record. Kimi Pohlman capped a solid weekend (6-for-9 with five runs) by going 2-for-2 with three runs and Nik Williams added her 10th home run of the year.
FAST TO 40
The Huskies won their 40th game of the season three weeks ago to reach the milestone for the 14th time in the 18-year history of the program. Now at 45-6, UW has the second-best 51-game mark in school history and just two shy of the record held by the 2000 team, which started 47-4. That team did not lose their fifth game until the 52nd contest of the season, going on to win a school-record 62 games (62-9) before finishing fifth in the College World Series. The 1996 team also had a good start, going 44-7 before winning the Pac-10 title and finishing second in the nation. Last year's Husky team was 41-10 through 51 games before finishing 51-12 and winning its first National Championship. The Huskies have won 50 or more in a season seven times.
THEY SAY DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS...
Perhaps overshadowed by Danielle Lawrie and a powerful offense, the Husky defense may be the most underrated reason why UW has been ranked No. 1 in the nation all season. The Huskies lead the Pac-10 and rank seventh in the nation with a .977 fielding percentage, making just 30 errors in 51 games. They had gone a season-high nine games without an error recently before the streak was broken against Stanford. With just the postseason remaining, UW is on pace to smash the school record for fewest errors in a season, set by the 2000 team which made 48 and also owns the highest fielding percentage in school history (.977). The Huskies have given up just six unearned runs in 51 games this season after giving up 31 in 63 games last year.
AS STEADY AS THEY GET
As a team, UW has been as consistent as they come this year, losing just six games all year and never dropping two games in succession. In fact, only once has UW lost games on consecutive weekends, which happened recently when the Huskies dropped a game at Oregon, then lost one to Cal on the road. UW lost its first game on Feb. 19 then won 18 straight before falling to DePaul. UW would win their next five before being up-ended by UCLA but they bounced back to win the next six conference games. They only slipped a bit on the road in conference play, dropping two in a four-game span, but they rebounded to win seven straight to clinch the Pac-10 title.
The Huskies defeated Arizona State, 9-0, on Saturday for their 16th mercy-rule victory this year. They had 14 last year, including four in Pac-10 play. This year, UW had five mercy rule wins in five innings in conference play, breaking last year's mark for the most in school history. Three of those wins came against ranked teams as they took down Cal, Stanford and Arizona State all in five. UW also won five games via the run-rule in 2005, but two of those lasted six innings.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
2010: 29-27, 7-11 Big 12
2009: 35-19, 9-9 (NCAA Regionals)
Series vs. UW: Washington leads, 5-3
About Nebraska: The Cornhuskers just snuck into the NCAA Tournament, earning one of 34 at-large selections as one of seven teams from the Big 12. The postseason berth marks Nebraska's 20th overall NCAA Tournament appearance - the 10th-most appearances in NCAA history - and is the 15th time the Huskers have made the postseason in the past 16 seasons. Nebraska takes a 29-27 record into the postseason after losing in the first round of the Big 12 Championship to 19th-ranked Texas A&M on Saturday. Nebraska should be prepared for the strong competition that comes with postseason play, as eight of the Huskers' last nine games have come against NCAA Tournament teams, including seven contests against teams currently ranked in the top 20. The trip to Seattle will mark Nebraska's first-ever games in the state of Washington, while the Huskies will be hosting the Huskers for the first time, after Nebraska hosted Washington in NCAA Tournament action in 2005 and 2007.
Players To Watch:
So., C, Ashley Guile (.391 BA, 15 2B, 40 RBI)
Fr., OF, Brooke Thomason (.333 BA, 11 HR, 38 RBI)
Jr., IF, Heidi Foland (.316 BA, 12 HR, 27 RBI, 47 R, 10 SB)
So., P, Ashley Hagemann (14-14, 3.62 ERA, 208 K, 191.2 IP)
Series History: The Huskies and Cornhuskers have a decent rivalry despite the distance, having faced off eight times, including twice in the NCAA postseason. Nebraska won the first two meetings between the teams in 1995 before UW took two in 1998, including a 3-1 win in the Women's Collge World Series. The Huskies went on to win again in 2000 and 2001 to make it four straight before Nebraska took a 4-1 decision in 2005. But UW got the best of the Cornhuskers the last time they faced each other, winning 7-6 on NU's home field in the 2005 NCAA Regionals, which they went on to win.
Common Opponents: Auburn (L, 2-1); Ohio (W, 5-1); BYU (L, 5-1); Arizona State (L, 1-0; L, 7-1); Oklahoma (L, 5-0; L, 8-0); Oklahoma State (L, 4-0; L, 8-0)
NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS
2010: 40-18, 11-10 ACC
2009: 47-13, 15-5 (NCAA Regionals)
Series vs. UW: Washington leads, 1-0
About North Carolina: UNC earned its eighth-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament with this year's birth and gathered 40 wins in a season for the fifth straight year. Last year, the Tar Heels hosted an NCAA Regional but fell to eventual Women's College World Series semifinalist Georgia. UNC boasts the ACC Pitcher of the Year, Danielle Spaulding, along with First Team All-ACC player Christine Knauer, while sophomore Ally Blake earned second team honors. Spaulding, a senior from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., earned the Pitcher of the Year Award for the first time in her career after receiving the ACC Player of the Year Award the past two seasons and becomes the third player in ACC history to win three individual awards in a career. She was named a Third-Team All-American in 2009.
Players To Watch:
Sr., P/1B, Danielle Spaulding (19-5, 1.32 ERA, 294 K, 179.2 IP, .356 BA, 8 HR, 33 RBI)
Sr., SS, Christine Knauer (.344 BA, 42 R, 41-45 SB)
So., C, Ally Blake (.288 BA, 7 HR, 22 RBI)
So, OF, Kelli Wheeler (.305 BA, 12 HR, 29 RBI)
Series History: The Huskies and Tar Heels have squared off just one time in their histories, a 4-0 win by UW on March 8, 2003.
Common Opponents: DePaul (L, 4-1; W, 4-1); Stanford (W, 3-0); UCLA (L, 1-0)
NORTH DAKOTA STATE BISON
2010: 33-23, 14-8 Summit League
2009: 38-20, 19-4 (NCAA Super Regionals)
Series vs. UW: First Meeting
About North Dakota State: The Bison were the Cinderalla story of the 2009 NCAA Tournament, knocking off No. 7 seed Oklahoma on the Sooners' home field to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals. While they would eventually succumb to Arizona State, NDSU made a name for itself as a powerful mid-major. The Bison advanced to this year's tournament by winning the Summit League tournament in Fargo this weekend. North Dakota State is 0-9 against the Pac-10 all-time including a 6-0 loss to then sixth-ranked Arizona on Feb. 13 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Bison are 0-4 against the Wildcats, 0-2 against Arizona State, 0-2 vs. Cal and 0-1 against Stanford. This year marks the Bison's ninth tournament appearance overall (including Division II), compiling a 27-17 record in NCAA competition.
Player to Watch:
Sr., 1B, Melissa Chmielewski (.398 BA, 19 2B, 10 HR, 59 RBI)
Jr., SS, Nicole Rivera (.378 BA, 47 R, 27 SB)
Fr., P, Whitney Johnson (26-16, 2.53 ERA, 315 K, 263.0 IP)
Series History: Friday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
Common Opponents: Portland State (W, 2-1); Cal State Northridge (W, 3-2); Ohio (W, 5-0); Arizona (L, 6-0); Purdue (L, 5-3); UC Santa Barbara (W, 2-0); Utah State (L, 11-4; W, 9-1; W, 4-2);
With five home runs two weeks ago against Oregon State - including a season-high four in one game - UW surpassed their home run total from all of last year when they hit 51 in 63 games. UW now has 59 in 51 games after hitting 40 home runs through 51 games last season. The Huskies also have 16 multi-home run games, two more than they had all of last year. In fact, the Huskies have hit three or more home runs in a game nine times this year, something they did just twice all last year. The 59 home runs are already the fourth-most in school history, trailing teams from 2003 (75), 2005 (80) and 2000 (84).
Danielle Lawrie leads the squad with 14 home runs, which would have more than led the team lead last year, and freshman Shawna Wright is right on her heels with 11, having gone yard a team-best four times in conference play. Niki Williams has also posted a career-best 10 long balls while sophomore Taylor Smith, despite starting just 16 of 51 games, is fourth on the team with eight home runs, hitting one every six at-bats. Exactly half of her 16 hits this year are for home runs.
UNDERCLASSMEN PULLING THEIR WEIGHT
In last year's Women's College World Series, UW's offense was carried mostly by underclassmen and through most of conference play, the freshmen and sophomores were once again clutch down the stretch. Sophomores Kimi Pohlman and Niki Williams and freshmen Shawna Wright and Hooch Fagaly led the way for the Dawgs, with Pohlman leading the team in average (.418), hits (28), runs (20) and stolen bases (9) and Wright leading the team in doubles (7), home runs (4), RBI (24) and slugging percentage (.629). Williams ranked second on the team with 16 RBI while Fagaly drew a team-high 17 walks and led the team in on base percentage (.484).
SECOND TO NONE
With 12 strikeouts last weekend, Danielle Lawrie broke the Pac-10's career strikeout record, moving past Arizona great Alicia Hollowell in the final game of the weekend. With 1,772 career Ks, Lawrie is now fifth in NCAA history and just two shy of taking over sole possession of fourth all-time. The No. 3 spot all-time is held by Virginia Tech's Angela Tincher, who finished with 2,149, out of reach for the Husky senior.
Lawrie is also moving up the charts in several other categories in the Pac-10 record books. With two wins last weekend, she moved past UCLA's Keira Goerl for second in victories and also moved up to No. 8 in NCAA history in that category. She also ranks No. 2 in strikeouts per seven innings, innings pitched and appearances in the conference while coming in at No. 3 in complete games and starts.
AWARDS PILING UP FOR LAWRIE
At this rate, Danielle Lawrie is going to have to buy a house just for all the hardware she's earning this year. After going 3-0 against Stanford two weeks ago, allowing one run and six hits in 20 innings pitched with 34 strikeouts while also going 4-for-9 with four RBI and a walk-off home run, the senior was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week along with both the NFCA National Player of the Week and the USA Softball National Player of the Week. The conference honor was her record-breaking seventh of the season, breaking her own mark set last year, and was the 17th of her career, extending the record she set three weeks ago. She won the award again this week to give her eight on the year, including six of the last seven weeks, and 18 in her career. She ended the Pac-10 season with a 17-2 record and 1.01 ERA with 212 strikeouts against some of the best teams in the country. In fact, her 212 conference Ks were exactly twice as many as the second-most by a pitcher in conference play, with Arizona's Kenzie Fowler fanning 106.
Lawrie also made national history with her USA Softball Player of the Week honor, becoming the first player to ever win the award three times in a single season. Last year's USA Softball Player of the Year won the award following the opening week of the season - when she also won the NFCA POW as well - and earned her second honor after going 3-0 against then-No. 2 Arizona.
While she has no one else to chase in the Husky record books, Danielle Lawrie is doing a pretty good job of chasing down her own records, most of which she set last year. With 407 strikeouts on the season, Lawrie is third on the UW single-season charts and now owns the top four spots all time, setting the record with 521 last year, as well as ranking second with 457 in 2007 and fourth with 387 in 2006. Jennifer Spediacci is the only other Husky in the top five, striking out 316 in 2000. With one more shutout last weekend, Lawrie moved one shy of her own single-season mark set last year, throwing her 20th against ASU. She also won two games to give her 35 on the season, her third-career 30 win season. That mark moves her into third on the single-season charts, behind her record 42 last year and Tia Bollinger's 36 in 2001.
Danielle Lawrie made as much noise in the preseason with her bat as she did with her arm, but once conference play started, the senior went into a bit of a funk. She went just 2-for-16 over the first two weekends with one RBI and was in the midst of a 2-for-17 funk with no RBI over her last six games going into UW's home weekend against Stanford. Lawrie then broke out by going 4-for-9 with four RBI against the Cardinal, including a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning of the second game to give UW a 2-1 win. She then went 5-for-11 with eight RBI in UW's series last weekend against ASU, hitting a home run in each of the first two games while going 3-for-3 with five RBI in the finale. Since her 2-for-17 funk, Lawrie is batting .450 (9-for-20) with 12 RBI in the last six games. Her walk-off home run broke a 21-game and 62 at-bat homerless drought. She has now hit three in her last five games to give the Huskies a big boost.
What has made Danielle Lawrie perhaps even better in 2010 than she was in her record-setting 2009 season is the lack of walks the pitcher has allowed this season. Lawrie has given up just 33 walks in 247.1 innings and 40 appearances this season, a 0.93 walks-per-seven innings ratio which ranks fifth in the nation. By comparison, Lawrie had 53 walks through 40 appearances last year and finished the season with 76. She had already reached 33 walks by April 4 and went into conference play with 28. This season she had just seven walks heading into Pac-10 play before conference batters have had a little better eye against her. Still, Lawrie has had 20 appearances without a walk this year after just 16 all last year in 52 appearances.
DON'T MAKE HER MAD
After giving up a season-high tying four runs in her third loss of the season against Oregon on April 17, Lawrie allowed just two earned over her next 63 innings pitched before ASU scored four off her last weekend. Still, since that last loss, Lawrie is 11-0 with a 0.58 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 72 innings.
Lawrie threw 25-consecutive scoreless after the loss to Oregon before Oregon State scored a run in the first inning of their first game three weeks ago. She then threw another 26-consecutive scoreless innings before Stanford All-American and USA National Team player Ashley Hansen went yard against her two weekends ago. Lawrie responded by holding Stanford scoreless over the final nine innings of the weekend and added two more scoreless innings at ASU until the Sun Devils broke out. The longest scoreless streak of Lawrie's career came early last season when she went 64.1 consecutive innings without allowing a single run and also went 90.0 straight without allowing an earned run.