Softball Heads To Lincoln, Neb. For NCAA Regional Tournament

May 12, 2003

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UP NEXT: The Washington softball team (42-14-1) earned a No. 1 seed at the 2003 NCAA Regional Tournament in Lincoln, Neb. The Huskies, who rank fifth among the 64-team field, will open play against No. 8 seed Creighton (25-22). The winner of the tournament will be the fifth seed at the College World Series, May 22-26 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Washington is aiming to for its sixth trip to the CWS after a two-year hiatus. Joining UW and Creighton at the double-elimination tournament is No. 2 seed and tournament host Nebraska (36-15), No. 3 seed Iowa (40-13), No. 4 seed Mississippi State (33-28), No. 5 seed Florida International (35-25), No. 6 seed Pacific (Cal.) (34-22) and No. 7 seed Hofstra (37-15).

UW IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: The Huskies are making their 10th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Washington has a 37-16 record in those games (12-8 CWS/ 25-8 Regionals) and has advanced to the College World Series five times, most recently in 2000, when it tied for fifth place. UW was national runner-up in 1996 and 1999.

CONSECUTIVE NCAA APPEARNACES: Washington's 10 consecutive regional appearances ties with Oklahoma for the fourth longest active string in NCAA softball. Here's a look at the top eight active streaks:

1. Fresno State 22 1982-present
2. California 18 1986-present
3. Arizona* 17 1987-present
t-4. Oklahoma* 10 1994-present
t-4. Washington* 10 1994-present
t-6. Massachusetts 9 1995-present
t-6. Michigan 9 1995-present
t-6. Nebraska 9 1995-present
* indicates 2003 No. 1 seed

WASHINGTON VS. TOURNAMENT FIELD: The Huskies have a 27-14 record versus teams in this year's NCAA field, having played Arizona, South Carolina, Minnesota, UCLA, Michigan State, North Carolina, Texas, Northwestern, Arizona State, Hawaii, Oregon State, Florida International, Pacific, Hofstra, Cal State Fullerton, Oklahoma State, Oregon, California, Michigan, Stanford, Massachusetts, Illinois.

2002 REGIONAL RECAP: Washington entered the 2002 Regional Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., as the No. 1 seed. The Huskies won their first two games versus Oakland (8-0) and Central Michigan (4-1), before dropping a pair of one-run games to Michigan (6-5) and Ohio State (2-1).

SCOUTING NEBRASKA: Nebraska (36-15, 10-8 Big 12) enters the regional tournament as the No. 2 seed after holding a No. 11 ranking in the last USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll. The Huskers, an at-large selection, are making their 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and have advanced to the World Series seven times (last, 2002). NU has tallied 11 wins this year over ranked teams, including four over top 10 teams (Texas, Oklahoma, Cal State Fullerton and California). The Huskers finished the Big 12 season with a 10-8 record to tie for fifth, its lowest finish ever in the Big 12.

The Huskers are led by sophomore second baseman Anne Steffan, who ranks third in the Big 12 with a .366 average, and senior left fielder Lisa Wangler, who ranks seventh with a .325 clip. Wrangler leads the squad with 37 runs batted in and senior shortstop Amanda Buchholz has chipped in 35.

Junior pitcher Peaches James (21-11) has a 1.49 ERA and has thrown eight shutouts. James has struck out 223 batters in 221 innings and has limited her opponents to a .175 average.

Washington leads the Huskers 4-2 in the all-time series and holds a four-game winning streak. The teams last met in 2001 with the Huskies coming out on top, 3-0.

SCOUTING IOWA: Iowa (41-13, 13-4 Big 10), the No. 3 seed, is making its 11th appearance in the NCAA Regional Tournament. The Hawkeyes have advanced to the World Series five times with their last appearance coming in 2001. Iowa received an automatic bid after winning the Big 10 Conference tournament with a 2-0 shutout over Northwestern. The Hawkeyes have posted two wins over ranked teams this season, including Texas A&M and California.

The team is led by junior second baseman Christi Schmaltz with a .364 average and 39 RBIs. Big 10 Freshman of the Year Stacy May also posts impressive numbers with a .363 average and 38 RBIs. Big 10 Pitcher of the Year Lisa Birocci is the Hawkeye ace, striking out 245 batters in 212.1 innings. Birocci has thrown 13 shutouts this season and has limited her opponents to a .136 average.

The Huskies lead Iowa 3-1 in the all-time series and have a three-game winning streak. The teams were scheduled to play this season at the Capital Classic (Sacramento, Calif.) but were rained out. The last time the Huskies and Hawkeyes played was in 2000, with UW taking the 5-1 victory.

SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE: Mississippi State (33-28, 13-16 SEC) enters the tournament as the No. 4 seed. The Bulldogs make their third appearance in the NCAA Regional in the last four seasons. MSU posted eight wins over ranked teams this year, including Texas A&M, Florida State, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana State, Alabama and Florida (twice). The Bulldogs, who finished fourth in the SEC Western Division, were an at-large selection.

The team is led by SEC Athlete of the Year Iyhia McMichael who boasts a .408 average and led the league with 63 RBIs and 18 home runs. Junior catcher Jennifer Waterman ranks second on the team with a .382 clip and 35 runs batted in. Melissa Massey (21-12) anchors the pitching staff with a 3.28 earned run average, while striking out 92 batters in 188 innings.

The Huskies have faced MSU just once, winning a 4-1 decision in 2000.

SCOUTING FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL: Florida International (35-25, 11-3 Sun Belt) is making its first appearance ever in the Regional Tournament as the No. 5 seed. The Golden Panthers, who finished second in the Sun Belt Conference, received an at-large bid for the first time in the program's six-year history. FIU posted five wins over ranked opponents this season, including Alabama, Texas A&M, Massachusetts and Louisiana-Lafayette (twice).

The Golden Panthers are led by junior third baseman Jennifer Owens with a .365 average and 37 runs batted in and senior centerfielder Nicole Dubovik with a .341 clip. Amanda Nealer headlines the pitching staff with a 1.81 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 166.1 innings.

Washington played FIU for the first time this season, defeating the Golden Panthers, 8-0, in six innings. The Huskies out-hit FIU, 10-2 with Tia Bollinger earning the win. Sarah Hyatt went 3-for-3 in the game, including a double, while Aimee Minor doubled and tripled.

SCOUTING PACIFIC: Pacific (34-22, 10-10 Big West) picks up the No. 6 seed as the Tigers make their fifth postseason appearance in six years. Pacific finished fourth in the Big West and went 3-11 against ranked opponents this season. The Tigers, who picked up an at-large bid, notched top-25 wins over Stanford, Minnesota and Ohio State.

Senior left fielder Barbara Moody leads the squad with a .343 average, which ranks fourth in the Big West. Freshman third baseman Kristen Allen is also hitting above the .300 mark with a .303 average. Senior centerfielder Estee Okumura led the conference with nine home runs and was second in the league with 39 runs batted in. The Tigers have a pair of 14-win pitchers, including sophomore Natalie King (14-9) and junior Jennifer Dacre (14-10). King has a 1.55 ERA and has struck out 119 batters in 153.2 innings, while Dacre has a .210 ERA and has fanned 79 in 163.3 innings.

Washington leads Pacific in the all-time series 8-0, including a 9-1 victory earlier this season. Kathy Fiske and Dena Tyson each homered in the win, while Ashley Boek limited the Tigers to five hits and struck out nine.

SCOUTING HOFSTRA: Hofstra (37-15, 12-2 Colonial Athletic Association) earned the No. 7 seed and an at-large bid after winning the CAA Championship. The Pride is making its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance since 1993 and its fourth in the last five years. Hofstra went 2-4 against ranked teams this season, defeating Massachusetts and Notre Dame.

The team, which set the school record with 49 home runs this season, is led by senior first baseman Amanda Hallaway with a .381 average and 43 RBIs. Senior shortstop Danielle Stewart has provided the power for the Pride with 17 home runs and 37 runs batted in. Hofstra has a trio of pitchers that have recorded 10+ wins, led by senior Sara DeAngelis (13-7) with a 1.91 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 124.1 innings.

The Huskies are 3-0 against Hofstra all-time, including a six-inning, 9-1 victory earlier this season. Kathy Fiske and Jaime Clark hit home runs in the win and Fiske collected four RBIs. Ashley Boek picked up the win as she held the Pride to three hits and struck out 10.

SCOUTING CREIGHTON: Creighton (25-22, 14-12 Missouri Valley), the No. 8 seed, makes its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1999 and seventh trip overall. The Blue Jays, who received an automatic bid by winning their conference tournament, look to snap a six-game losing streak in the postseason, dating back to 1989. Creighton has not played a ranked opponent this season.

The Blue Jays are led by junior first baseman Jenny Hunt and junior centerfielder Stacey Rybar at the plate with .287 and .268 averages, respectively. Rybar leads the team with 11 home runs (tied with Abby Johnson) and 34 runs batted in. Sophomore pitcher Tammy Nielsen (19-5), MVC tournament Most Valuable Player, maintains a 1.11 ERA with 248 strikeouts in 183.2 innings.

Washington trails Creighton in the all-time series, 1-0, after dropping a 2-1 decision in 1993.

COACH WILSON: In 11 seasons as the head coach at UW, Teresa Wilson has led the Dawgs to two Pac-10 championships, nine NCAA Regionals and two second place finishes at the College World Series. Her overall UW record stands at 527-196-1 (.729) and she is 731-357-1 (.671) all-time. Before becoming the Husky head coach in 1993, Wilson served as the head coach at Minnesota for two seasons (1990-1991) and at Oregon for four seasons (1986-89). All totaled, Wilson has coached 24 All-Americans, 69 all-conference selections and 50 academic all-conference honorees. A 1983 All-American pitcher for Missouri, she is joined by assistants Scott Centala and Steve Dailey.

CAREER RBI RECORD: Jaime Clark hit her 68th career home run versus Oregon on May 4 for her 228th career RBI. She now tops the Washington all-time chart with 235 and ranks eighth on the NCAA career list. Former Huskies Jen Cline (1993-96, 227 RBIs) and Michelle Church (1993-96, 225) rank ninth and 10th on the NCAA list.

A PAIR OF ACES IN THE CIRCLE: Washington is the only team in the Pac-10 with two 15+ game winners and two pitchers with 150 or more strikeouts. Junior Tia Bollinger is 24-9 with a team-high 189 strikeouts and boasts a 1.43 earned run average. Sophomore Ashley Boek is 17-4 with 163 strikeouts in 151 innings. Boek has a 1.92 ERA.

HYATT HITS GAME-WINNERS: Freshman Sarah Hyatt has crushed seven home runs this season, including the game-winners in two Pac-10 games. On April 5, the Huskies trailed Arizona State, 1-0 in the sixth. After a walk to Dena Tyson, Hyatt belted a two-run home run for the eventual game-winner. On April 27, Hyatt hit a walk-off three-run home run versus California in the eighth inning.

HUSKIES PACK THE HOUSE: The Huskies rank fourth in the country in home attendance. Washington has pulled in 8,002 fans over 11 home dates for an average of 727 fans per game. The top-three attendance schools are Fresno State (2,012), Arizona (1,408) and Texas (751). Michigan rounds out the top-5, bringing in 702 fans per game (see table, page 8).

HOME RUN HEROICS: Jaime Clark set the UW all-time home run record during her junior campaign with 44. Clark has now brought her career total to 70 home runs, which ranks fifth on the NCAA all-time chart. She is six home runs behind No. 4-ranked Jenny Dalton (Arizona) with 76 homers.

NATIONAL TEAM CAMP INVITEES: Washington standouts Jaime Clark and Kristen Rivera are among 45 players invited to participate in a selection team camp, June 4-8, at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. The players will compete for spots on two teams that will represent the United State in international competition this summer. The invite is Clark's third and Rivera's second. Clark was a member of the 2001 USA Blue National Team and Rivera was selected to the USA Elite Team last summer but declined participation due to injury.

TOP-25 FINALIST: Washington's Kristen Rivera was one of 25 finalists for the 2003 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award (considered the Heisman Trophy in women's collegiate softball). The initial watch list of 40 players, which included Tia Bollinger and Jaime Clark, was shrunk to 25 players on April 9.

SAVING THE DAY: With a save versus Arizona State on April 5, junior ace Tia Bollinger became the Pac-10 and UW all-time career saves leader with 11. On April 12, Bollinger recorded her 12th career save against Oregon State, which ties for 14th on the NCAA career chart. Bollinger set the school record for single-season saves last year with seven.

WALKING THE DAWGS: The Huskies drew 10 walks off of Arizona State hurler Desiree Serrano on April 5 to just fall short of the all-time single-game UW record of 11. Washington set the record against Arizona in 1996. The Dawgs have drawn 165 walks this season while only giving up 92 free trips in 57 games. UW has four players with 20+ walks, including Dena Tyson (24), Jaime Clark (22), Kristen Rivera (22) and Sarah Hyatt (20).

BACK-TO-BACK DINGERS: Washington has hit back-to-back home runs seven times this season, using five different combinations. Kathy Fiske and Sarah Hyatt teamed up for sequential dingers against Arkansas (Feb. 14), while Fiske and Kristen Rivera hit consecutive home runs versus Portland State (Feb. 28). Rivera and Jaime Clark have gone deep back-to-back three times, including twice in the Purdue match-up (Mar. 2) and once against Temple (Feb. 24). Aimee Minor and Megan Owen hit successive shots off of Texas' Cat Osterman (Mar. 14), while batting from the eight and nine positions and most recently, Minor and Hyatt hit back-to-back shots versus Illinois (Mar. 21). All totaled, Washington has posted 18 multi-home run games with Rivera (3 vs. Purdue; 2 vs. Arizona), Clark (2 vs. Purdue; 2 vs. Utah; 2 vs. Arizona) and Hyatt (2 vs. North Carolina) each recording more than one home run in the same game.

A 'FRESH' START: Washington's three freshman, Sarah Hyatt, Aimee Minor and Dena Tyson, have seen significant starting time this season. Hyatt has started 56 games, including 55 at first base and one at third base. Minor has started 45 games in right field and eight as the designated player. Tyson has notched 51 starts in left field, one in centerfield and one as the designated player. The trio has amassed 38 percent of the team's doubles (27-of-71), 38 percent of the team's triples (3-of-8) and 31 percent of the team's home runs (20-of-65).

THE LONG BALL: The Huskies have belted 65 home runs this season. Seven players have hit at least one home run, including Kristen Rivera (21), Jaime Clark (14), Kathy Fiske (9), Dena Tyson (8), Sarah Hyatt (7), Aimee Minor (5) and Megan Owen (1).

THE RUN-AROUND: With a pair of runs scored versus Hawaii on March 13, Jaime Clark became the all-time career runs leader at Washington with 190 runs scored. Her career total now stands at 216.

STEALING THE SHOW: Jaime Clark is 25-for-30 in stolen base attempts this season to rank second in the Pac-10. She is now tied with Becky Newbry (1999) for the No. 10 spot on the Husky all-time season charts. The last time a Washington player stole 25+ bases was in 2000 when Rosie Leutizinger stole 29 bags in 33 attempts. Clark has tallied 72 career stolen bases, which ranks sixth on the all-time list and she needs just nine more to crack into the top-5.

As a team, the Huskies have stolen 59 bases this season, which ranks third in the Pac-10.

TAKING IT FOR THE TEAM: Washington has been hit by 43 pitches this season to tie the school's single-season record set in 2000. Aimee Minor leads the way, being hit by nine pitches, followed by Megan Owen and Kristen Rivera who have been pegged seven times.

FIVE BLASTS VS. THE BOILERMAKERS: The Huskies had a banner day versus Purdue on March 3. En route to an 11-0 romp, Washington broke two school records, including most home runs by a team (five) and most home runs by an individual with three by Kristen Rivera. Jaime Clark hit the other two home runs against the Boilermakers.

MILESTONES: Head coach Teresa Wilson has notched two milestone victories this season, including 700 career wins and 500 Washington victories. On Feb. 22, Wilson tallied her 700th career victory with a 5-2 win over No. 15 Michigan, 5-3. On March 1, Wilson recorded her 500th win at the helm of the UW softball team with a 9-0 romp over Northwestern. She now has a 731-357-1 all-time record, which ranks 16th on the active coaches' list for most victories.

USA SOFTBALL COLLEGIATE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: After a record-setting performance at the Worth Invitational, Feb. 28-March 2, sophomore Kristen Rivera was selected as the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week and Pac-10 Player of the Week on March 4.

Rivera led the Huskies to five wins at the Worth Invitational and the unofficial tournament title as she hit .571 (8-for-14) over the five game stretch with a double, four home runs and 12 RBIs. Against Purdue, she hit three home runs in three at-bats to set a Washington record and tallied five RBIs.

She also went 2-for-3 against both Pacific and Northwestern with two runs scored and six RBIs combined. Rivera drew two walks over the course of the tournament and did not strikeout. Behind the plate, she was flawless with a perfect fielding percentage and threw out the only base runner that attempted to steal.

IN THE POLLS: The Washington softball team dipped three spots in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll on May 6 to No. 8 after losing four-straight Pac-10 games. Ranked above the Huskies are No. 1 Arizona, No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Texas, No. 4 DePaul, No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 6 Cal State Fullerton and No. 7 Georgia.

The Huskies have been ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Top 25 poll in each of the last 124 poll 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).

Overall, the Huskies have remained in the top 15 in each of the last 107 poll datings, a streak that began with the preseason poll in 1996.

Washington also fell two positions in the Softball Collegiate top 25 poll to No. 7.

PAC-10 HONORS: Kristen Rivera has received Pac-10 Player of the Week honors twice this season. Her first weekly award was on March 4 for her .571 showing (8-for-14) at the Worth Invitational. The weekend was highlighted by her three home run performance versus Purdue, which set a Husky single-game record. Rivera also received the award on March 25 for leading the Huskies to the Capital Classic title with a .471 (8-for-17) average. Over the five games, she hit two doubles, two home runs and drove in eight RBIs.

Tia Bollinger was selected as the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week on March 4 after a 3-0 mark at the Worth Invitational, Feb. 28-March 2. She gave up just 10 hits total, shutout Northwestern and allowed no earned runs in four innings of work against Purdue. Bollinger rung up 14 batters in 16 innings for a team-low 0.44 ERA and allowed only one run in three appearances. She limited No. 20 Ohio State to three hits and Purdue to only two.

CAPITAL CLASSIC CHAMPIONS: Washington won the Capital Classic championship with a perfect 4-0 record (Mar. 21-23). The Huskies defeated host Sac State, Illinois, Morehead State and Utah to be the only team to finish the tourney with an unblemished record. UW out scored its opponents 27-9 en route to the tournament title. Rita Roach was named to the all-tournament team as she led the squad with a .583 (7-for-12) average and six runs scored. Dena Tyson also led UW from the plate, hitting .545 (6-for-11), including a double and two home runs. The weekend was highlighted by Ashley's Boek's no-hitter over Morehead State (Mar. 22). It marked the second no-hitter for Boek and the 21st in Washington history.

ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The 16-player Washington roster includes 13 returning letterwinners and eight returning starters. The 2003 team includes six juniors, five sophomores, three freshmen and two seniors. Nine players hail from California, six from Washington and one from Oregon.

PERFECT AT NFCA LEADOFF CLASSIC: Despite rain that cancelled bracket play at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, Washington did play and sweep its three scheduled pool games. The Huskies defeated No. 16 South Carolina 2-1, No. 15 Michigan 5-3 and Temple 4-3 to win Pool 6. Kathy Fiske and Kristen Rivera were named to the all-tournament team for their tremendous efforts at the plate and on defense.

Fiske went 6-for-10 (.600) with a .900 slugging percentage. She drove in both of Washington's runs in the 2-1 win over No. 16 South Carolina, going 2-for-3 with a double. She followed up that performance with a 3-for-4 showing in the 5-3 win over No. 15 Michigan, including a double and three runs scored. Fiske finished the tournament going 1-for-3 with another double in UW's 4-3 win over Temple. She was perfect from the field, making 8-of-8 plays from third base.

Rivera, Washington designated player and catcher, hit .625 (5-for-8) with a 1.000 slugging percentage. She was 2-for-5 against South Carolina and Michigan, while also drawing a walk and being hit by a pitch. Against Temple, Rivera went 3-for-3, driving in two runs and hitting a solo home run in the 4-3 victory.

Washington was one of only three teams to have two players named to the all-tournament team, joining Stanford and tournament champion Massachusetts.

CHEVRON PARADISE CLASSIC CHAMPIONS: Washington opened the 2003 season with a perfect 6-0 record to win the Hawaii Chevron Paradise Classic in Honolulu, Feb. 6-9. After rain halted play on Feb. 6, the Huskies notched a pair of extra-inning wins against Santa Clara 3-2 and Oklahoma State 5-4 on Feb. 7. UW followed up with victories against Louisville 7-4 and host Hawaii 3-2 to earn the No. 1 seed for Sunday's single elimination bracket. The Huskies defeated Santa Clara in the first round 7-5 and topped Oklahoma State 3-2 to claim the tournament championship.

Sophomore Kristen Rivera was named Most Outstanding Player of the Hawaii Chevron Paradise Classic for her .476 performance at the plate, while sophomore Ashley Boek received Most Outstanding Pitcher honors after picking up three wins and a save. Also named to the all-tournament team were sophomore third baseman Kathy Fiske and junior centerfielder Rita Roach who hit .429 and .350, respectively.

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