Softball Heads To Georgia To Compete In NFCA Leadoff Classic

Feb. 25, 2004

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THIS WEEKEND: The fourth-ranked Washington softball team (11-2) travels to Columbus, Ga., this week to compete in the NFCA Leadoff Classic. The Huskies will face Texas and Army on Fri., Feb. 27 and Florida State on Sat., Feb. 28. Bracket play will begin Saturday afternoon based on pool play performances and will continue through Sunday. Washington holds the 14-3 advantage in the all-time series against its pool, including a 14-4 mercy-rule victory over Texas two weeks ago.

LAST TIME OUT: Washington went 1-1 last week at the Campbell/Cartier Classic, dropping a 1-0 game to Long Beach State and defeating San Diego State 7-0. The Huskies had three games rained out on Saturday and Sunday, including match-ups against Fresno State, Auburn and Hawaii. Kristen Rivera led the Huskies with an .800 average (4-for-5) and a 1.400 slugging percentage. She notched five RBIs against SDSU, including a three-run home run. Tia Bollinger threw a one-hitter against the Aztecs, not allowing a base runner until the seventh inning.

SCOUTING TEXAS: The No. 15 Texas Longhorns have an 8-4 record, with all four loses coming to teams ranked in the top 25. Texas has lost to Cal State Fullerton 10-3, Washington 14-4, Arizona 7-0 and Oregon 4-1. Amber Hall leads UT's offense, hitting .543 (19-for-35), while successfully stealing seven bases in eight attempts. Chez Sievers is hitting .390 (16-for-41), has notched four doubles and driven in eight runs. Amy Bradford (7-2) maintains a 2.23 earned run average and has fanned 61 batters in 47 innings. Washington leads the all-time series 9-1.

SCOUTING ARMY: The Black Knights open their 2004 campaign this weekend at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Army returns 15 letterwinners and nine starters, including six players that were selected to the all-league second team. Shortstop Lauren Gobar returns after leading the squad in batting (.310), runs (27), triples (7) and stolen bases (20-21). Ashlie Christian was the Black Knight's workhorse on the mound (148.2 innings) in posting a 2.07 ERA and picking up 13 of Army's 20 wins last season.

SCOUTING FLORIDA STATE: No. 11 Florida State (12-1) went 2-1 last week, splitting a pair of games against Jacksonville and defeating Florida A&M. The Seminoles are led by Jessica van der Linden both at the plate and on the mound. She boasts a .481 (13-for-27) average, including five doubles and 10 runs batted in. From the circle, van der Linden has tallied a 6-1 record, thrown a pair of no-hitters and has struck out 80 batters in 41.1 innings pitched. Hurler Casey Hunter has also record six wins for FSU, while holding her opponents to a .108 batting average. The Huskies hold the 4-2 advantage over the Seminoles in the all-time series with Florida State winning the last match-up 3-2 in 2002.

EASY AS 1-2-3: Washington has three players hitting above .400, including leadoff Dominique Lastrapes (.420), No. 2 hitter Rita Roach (.417) and No. 3 hitter Kristen Rivera (.455). Senior Amanda Oleson is on the cusp, hitting .395.

HYATT HITS 'EM IN: Sophomore Sarah Hyatt leads the team with 13 RBIs. Last season, Hyatt hit in 19 runs in 64 games played.

FIESTA BOWL RECAP: Washington went 6-0 at the Fiesta Bowl Classic Feb 13-15, out scoring its opponents 50-11. The Huskies defeated Syracuse 11-1, No. 10 Texas 14-4, Texas Tech 6-0, No. 18 Texas A&M 4-2, Dayton 10-2 and Massachusetts 5-2. UW had seven players hit .400 or better, led by freshman Dominique Lastrapes with a .565 average. Highlights of the weekend included a two home run, seven RBI night for Sarah Hyatt vs. Texas, Kristen Rivera's 4-for-4 performance vs. UMass and Lastrapes's extension of her 11-game hitting streak.

HITTING IT DEEP: Junior catcher Kristen Rivera has belted four home runs this season to move into the No. 2 position on the Husky career chart. She trails school record holder Jaime Clark (73) by 28 home runs. She opened the season on a high note, hitting a solo home run against San Diego State in her first at-bat of the year. Last season, Rivera set the UW season record with 25 home runs, which tied for the national lead.

STREAKING START: Freshman Dominique Lastrapes made her collegiate debut with an 11 game hitting streak. She has notched a base hit in 12 of 13 games this season and has picked up six multi-hit games, including two games in which she recorded three hits. The school record is a 21 game hitting streak set by Rosie Leutzinger in 2000.

HYATT HIGHLIGHTS WIN OVER TEXAS: Sophomore Sarah Hyatt stole the show in the 14-4 mercy-rule victory over 10th-ranked Texas on Feb. 14. Hyatt hit two home runs in the game, including a game-ending grand slam. She picked up seven RBIs to fall one short of the school record. Hyatt is just the eighth player to hit a grand slam at Washington.

HUSKIES OPEN STRONG: Washington had a 10-1 record after the first two weeks of the season to tie for the second-best start in the program's history. Last season, UW set the school record with a 19-0-1 start and the 2002 squad posted a 10-1 start to the season.

MERCY-MERCY ME: The Huskies have invoked the mercy-rule four times this season. UW forced game-ending scores against San Diego State (8-0 in five innings), Texas (14-4 in six), Texas Tech (11-1 in five) and Dayton (10-2 in five).

RECORDS WATCH: Amanda Oleson and Kathy Fiske are on the verge on breaking into the Husky career record book. Oleson has collected 62 walks in her career and needs just one more to take over the No. 10 spot. Fiske has tallied 23 doubles in her career and is just one out of the No. 10 position. Tia Bollinger sits third on the UW career wins list with 90. She is one win away from the No. 2 ranking and nine wins away from the school's record.

TWO NAMED TO WATCH LIST FOR USA SOFTBALL COLLEGIATE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD: All-Americans Tia Bollinger and Kristen Rivera were among 40 college players named to an initial watch list for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. The award, which is considered the Heisman Trophy in women's collegiate softball and is the only national player of the year award, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Last season, Bollinger and Rivera were named to the top 40 list, with Rivera being named a top 10 finalist.

NATIONAL RANKING: The Washington softball team maintained its No. 4 ranking in this weeks USA Today/NFCA Coaches Top 25 poll released on Feb. 25. UW trails Pac-10 foes No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Arizona and No. 3 California. The Huskies have been ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Top 25 poll in each of the last 128 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 111 poll datings, a streak that began with the preseason poll in 1996. Washington is also ranked No. 4 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate top 25 poll.

USA SOFTBALL REPRESENTATIVES: Junior catcher Kristen Rivera is one of 14 players named to the 2004 Women's National Elite team by USA Softball. The team was chosen from the USA player pool and will represent the U.S. in the 2004 Canada Cup, U.S. Champions Cup and other events to be scheduled. Former Husky standout and three-time All-American Jaime Clark was one of three alternates to join the 15-member USA National Team roster that will compete at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

NFCA NAMES TOP ALL-TIME TOP 50 TEAMS: The National Fastpitch Coaches' Association released its all-time top 50 poll with Washington ranking No. 3. The poll was complied using weekly rankings from the 1995 season to the 2003 final poll. Joining the Huskies in the top 10 are five other Pac-10 teams, including No. 1 Arizona, No. 2 UCLA, No. 7 California, No. 8 Arizona State and No. 10 Stanford.

CHALLENGING SCHEDULE: The Huskies have played three games against teams ranked in the top 25 and have come out with a 2-1 record. UW defeated No. 10 Texas 14-4, No. 18 Texas A&M 4-2 and lost to No. 1 UCLA 5-3. Washington is scheduled to face 12 other teams currently ranked in the top 25, including No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 California, No. 7 Stanford, No. 11 Florida State, No. 17 Oregon, No. 18 Arizona State, No. 19 Iowa, No. 21 Pacific, No. 24 Cal State Fullerton and No. 25 Oregon State.

HEAD COACHES: Former Washington assistant coaches Scott Centala and Steve Dailey take over the reigns as co-head coaches for the 2004 season. Centala enters his eighth season on the UW coaching staff and has helped develop Washington's program into one of the nation's elite teams. Since joining the program in the 1997 as a defensive specialist, the Huskies boast a 359-120-1 record with an incredible .749 winning percentage. All totaled, Husky players have earned 20 All-America certificates, 45 selections to All-Pac-10 squads and 31 All-Conference academic honors during Centala's tenure.

Dailey begins his second season with the Huskies as the offensive coach. Last season, Dailey helped cultivate Washington's offense into one of the most powerful line-ups in the country. The Huskies pounded 75 home runs, including 25 by Kristen Rivera to set the UW record and tie for the national lead. Washington out scored its opponents by nearly double (313-161) and invoked the mercy-rule 11 times, including three times at the regional tournament to set a Washington postseason record. Dailey also helped the Huskies become more selective at the plate, increasing their number of walks and decreasing their number of strikeouts.

ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The 14-player Washington roster includes 10 returning letterwinners and nine returning starters. The 2004 team is comprised of four seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen. Ten players hail from California, three from Washington and one from Oregon.

2003 SEASON RECAP: Washington sprinted out to its best start in the program's history and was the last undefeated team in the country with a 19-0-1 mark last year. The Huskies peaked in May, splitting their final Pac-10 games against top-ranked Arizona in Tucson to earn the No. 1 seed at the regional tournament in Lincoln, Neb. Washington powered its way through its regional competition, sweeping the field 4-0 and out scoring its opponents 35-1, including three mercy-rule victories, to advance to its sixth Women's College World Series. The Huskies opened the series with a 3-1 win over Oklahoma before dropping a pair of one-run heartbreakers to Arizona and UCLA to finish the season tied for fifth place. Kristen Rivera was a first team All-America selection and Tia Bollinger was named to the second team.

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